Metalhead’s Riff: Destruction In Kobe (Full Review + Look At What’s Next)

Second Destruction show on the menu today plus a look forward at the upcoming King of Pro Wrestling event, so without further ado:

Yohei Komatsu and Sho Tanaka defeated David Finlay and Jay White in 5:00 via submission:

Good match from all 4 Young Lions despite the limited time they were allowed. It seems Komatsu and Tanaka have been Young Lions forever no, and they, once again, showed they are ready for bigger things. Same can be said of Jay White and even David Finlay Jr, who had a shaky start in NJPW, has been gaining confidence in recent weeks and now shines as brightly as thee three others. I hope Gedo was watching, each of those guys could add something to the Junior Heavyweight division. All four of them together and we could have a division that comes very close to its former glory. Single leg crab from Tanaka on White, while Komatsu held Finlay at bay with the same move to finish this. Short but very enjoyable opener.

Yuji Nagata, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV defeated Juice Robinson, Captain New Japan & Manabu Nakanishi in 8:44 via pinfall:

Take a couple of minutes away from this one, add them to the first match and you really have something. Not much to write about, really, with Nagata working most of the match while Liger and Tiger Mask were taking a nap, another Nagata/Nakanishi confrontation and Juice Robinson allowed some ring time with Nagata. The same Nagata pinned Robinson with a backdrop hold for the win. Fairly typical NJPW multi man tag match.

Rocky Romero, Beretta, YOSHI-HASHI and Tomohiro Ishii defeated Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe in 7:48 via pinfall:

Star of the match was Mascara Dorada so, of course, he took the fall. OK, someone had to, and all others (except Tagushi who is protected) have something going on at King of Pro Wrestling, but it still felt a bit disappointing that the wrestler who made the match ended up being pinned. That being said, this was entertaining, with Ishii and Makabe (briefly) going at it, Honma and YOSHI-HASHI having some interaction and Dorada wowing the crowd. RPG Vice hit their finisher on him at the end. In January this year Dorada signed a one year deal with NJPW. Despite some great performances, NJPW hasn’t done much with him, aside from a title shot at Invasion Attack. If they plan on pushing him in any way (and they should) they should start working on it, because time is growing short.

Matt Sydal, Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Kenny Omega, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson in 10:52 via pinfall:

All hail Matt Sydal who was absolutely awesome here. TenKoji had some fun exchanges with Gallows and Anderson, but the highlights of the match, even of the show so far, were the interactions between Omega and Sydal. Sydal pinning Omega after an awesome reverse rana and shooting star press made it official. Their match for the Jr Heavyweight title will happen at King of Pro Wrestling and is already one of the most anticipated match on the card.

Tetsuya Naito defeated Katsuyori Shibata in 11:50 via pinfall:

This was good but perhaps not as good as expected. Their clash during the G1 was better, and after a very good build-up towards this match, I kind of had the the feeling this lacked something. Of course this would partly be explained post-match, with Naito destroying Jay Whyte and a cameraman only for Shibata to go at him again so this feud is far from over, but the post-match segment actually felt more heated than the match itself. Still it’s Shibata and Naito so this WAS entertaining, make no mistake about that and Naito was awesomely heelish here. Couple of low blows and a Destino from Naito to take the win. Not great but good.

Kazushi Sakuraba, Toru Yano and Kazuchika Okada defeated Cody Hall, Tama Tonga and AJ Styles in 12:18 via submission:

Pretty much the same as with the Okayama tag match, you got flashes and teases of the awesomeness that will be the Styles/Okada re-match at King of Pro Wrestling. For the rest, Tama Tonga continues to show how good he is, despite being under-utilized, Yano amused again with his antics (pretending to be scared shitless by Tonga and Hall shows slow improvement. Sakuraba scored the win for his team with a Kimura on Hall. Good stuff from all involved.

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship: reDragon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (c) defeated The Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA) in 16:17 via pinfall:

First of all, what a great match this was. Secondly what a bad week this has been for KUSHIDA. But first the match. Great pacing, great action, lots of back and forth, this was very enjoyable to watch. I like a car crash match as much as the next guy, but the over-abundance of three and even four ways for this title in the first part of the year, made the whole scene seem rushed and without much direction. So more of this, please, NJPW. The result, well, many have been complaining about the Jr Tag Team title being hot-potatoed between several teams, so a long reDragon run is certainly not a bad thing and the fact this match was put this high up the card is also positive. Besides O’Reilly and Fish are extremely talented so no problems with that. Then again, the booking of KUSHIDA this week has been strange to say the least. On a roll during the summer, he lost the Jr Heavyweight title on Wednesday and seemingly only reformed his tag team with Shelley to lose this match. Again nothing against reDragon being depicted as dominant but what the hell is going on with KUSHIDA? Fish pinned Shelley after Chasing the Dragon. Post-match, RPG Vice came out and attacked everybody. So they’re the next challengers. Should be good, but I don’t know if that will solve anything for this division.

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Bad Luck Fale in 16:37 via pinfall:

This one is for Tanahashi’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 contract. And I have to start with some humble pie here. I’ve been on Fale’s case a lot lately, even putting him in my TRA Negative Five, but credit where credit is due, he did well. Of course Tanahashi has something to do with that, but Fale proved to be an effective and even entertaining road-block on Tanahashi’s road to WK10. I will still say Fale would be better utilized as a tag team wrestler (with Tama Tonga for example) than as THE NJPW monster heel, but OK, this was a much better performance from Fale than expected. Tanahashi was amazing, as usual, and while the result was a forgone conclusion, they did assemble a very entertaining match. Great crowd also for this one. High Fly Flow for the finish. Post-match, Tanahashi calls out Naito (the only other wrestler who beat him during the G1) and wants to fight him. Hilariously Naito just sits on a chair, acting completely uninterested before leaving. So Tanahashi vs Naito is next. I can’t wait.

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Hirooki Goto (c) in 22:56 via pinfall:

Great match. Some of their previous outings had suffered from a slow start, but not here, as both went all out from the start. Lots of back and forth, good story and great selling from both. Easily the best match of their series, best match of this show and a more than worthy NJPW main event. Nakamura’s Boma Ye regained its effectiveness and was ultimately the difference-maker. Post-match, Karl Anderson (who beat both Nakamura and Goto during the G1) came out and challenged the new Champion. Nakamura’s answer? YEAOH!

 

Destruction in Kobe was a very good show, with some great matches and angles who quites nicely set things up for King of Pro Wrestling. That being said, NJPW still seems to be stagnating and the problem seems to be the same people being put in the same spots over and over again. Let’s take a closer look and do a short preview of the King of Pro Wrestling card at the same time.

One of the matches at King of Pro Wrestling is very telling about NJPW’s current situation. It will feature Captain New Japan, Kota Ibushi, Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata against Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi. That’s right the three losers of the Destruction shows will team up with professional loser Captain New Japan against a team of veterans, and since the good Captain is in there I don’t have to tell you who will lose this one. This is worrisome to me. I, of course, have nothing against Nakamura regaining the IC belt, I’m a Nakamura fan, but, let’s face it, he doesn’t really need the belt. It’s more the other way around. Goto had a good chance of getting closer to the very top of NJPW, with a lengthy reign and feuds against Anderson, Elgin and Nagata, but it now seems like he has lost most of his momentum. In short, this title change doesn’t realy help anyone.

That’s even more obvious when looking at the Ibushi situation. I resumed Ibushi’s year elsewhere, and it was a strange one, but having him lose on Wednesday against Makabe makes no sense at all. Again, NJPW had the chance to completely refresh the NEVER title scene, and please the quite large group of Ibushi fans. Instead he finds himself in a meaningless match and we now get Makabe vs Ishii at King of Pro Wrestling. Again. And don’t get me wrong, I love watching Ishii’s matches, but this has been done to death already. Stagnating? It’s more like moving backwards at this point.

Shibata at least has his feud with Naito, the other two will probably have to wait until the World Tag League to have something even remotely interesting to do.

The Junior Heavyweight tag team scene is also becoming problematic. And this is not about KUSHIDA losing, although he HAD made great progress this year and now also seems to have lost all momentum, but about how it’s booked. ReDragon is dominating that scene, nothing wrong with hat but it makes it very predictable. Mark my words, ReDragon will retain until the next Multi Team affair where they will lose to the Young Bucks (most likely) while avoiding being pinned. Again. While this will give us some spectacular matches, one has to question the booking wisdom here.

Matt Sydal vs Champion Kenny Omega is also on for king of Pro Wrestling. Sydal’s first tour in NJPW has been already won the Japanese crowds over (and he’s only been there for a couple of weeks) and there is no doubt in my mind this match will be great. But who wins. Sydal? Why take the belt of KUSHIDA then? Omega? Another wrestler loses momentum if that happens. See what I mean about stagnating?

Styles vs Okada has been expertly handled it must be said. And even if the upcoming Tanahashi vs Okada will also be a repeat, at least it is one that makes sense.

In other matches, Hiroshi Tanahashi will face Tetsuya Naito in what should be a very interesting clash.

Tomoaki Honma will battle YOSHI HASHI in what should be a fun outing.

Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson will tangle with Kazuchi Sakuraba, Toru Yano and Shinsuke Nakamura, in a match designed to put Nakamura vs Anderson over.

and in the opener David Finlay, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu will go against Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA,Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tiger Mask. Poor KUSHIDA, from title holder, to title contender to opening ten man tag team match. Talk about a roller-coaster ride.

NJPW shows remain great to watch with plenty of action and awesome matches, but, lately the booking has been called into question by many. At King of Pro Wrestling, NJPW has a chance to prove everyone wrong again, by launching new feuds and starting to give us hints at what the rest of the WK10 card will look like. Make no mistake, this is an important one for NJPW, It’s up to them to show us there is a plan behind it all.

That’s all from me this week, see you all later and have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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