One of the great things about living in Europe is that I can watch those NJPW shows while sipping my morning coffee. Yes, I know, but life is all about those little things. Anyway, another batch of interesting matches from our NJPW and ROH friends, so let’s get right into things:
Jay White defeated David Finlay Jr in 7:58 via submission:
Very good Young Lions match to start off the show, those two can always be depended upon to put together an opener that will get the crowd into the spirit of things. Fast-paced match with some very good exchanges White went over when he demonstrated the various ways you can apply a Crab submission. Interestingly, the crowds are more and more getting behind White which bodes well for his NJPW Future. For those who are keeping track, White now leads 2-1 in their televised encounters. Post-match, Finlay refused to shake White’s hand. An actual storyline to complement future Young Lions matches? Wow, Gedo is starting to spoil us here. Good, fun opener.
Jushin Thunder Liger and Matt Sydal defeated Gedo and Delirious in 7:53 via pinfall:
One thing about these matches is that Sydal visibly enjoys teaming up with one who is not only his idol but also the inventor of the Shooting Star Press he employs as his finisher. For the rest, about what you’d expect, Delirious goofed off A LOT (including stealing a woman’s purse to use as a weapon) Gedo tried to keep things together and Sydal finished things off with, you guessed it, a Shooting Star Press on Delirious. Fun for what it was
Dalton Castle defeated Frankie Kazarian in 11:07 via pinfall:
The best thing that can be said here is that Castle and his Boys were over with the crowd, to the point that they even encouraged said Boys to go refresh castle whenever he was in trouble. Unfortunately, Kazarian had a much tougher time connecting as an heel. Can’t say this was bad, the match was designed to put Castle over, and in that aspect, they succeeded, but Kazarian’s lack of heel heat (except when he dared attack the Boys) hurt this one a bit. Solid stuff, some entertaining Castle shenanigans and that was that.
Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto and reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) defeated Bullet Club (Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Tama Tonga, and Bad Luck Fale) in 10:22 via pinfall:
Everybody was clearly intent to make Anderson’s and Gallows last appearance a special one, including the booking team since the weakest of the 8 (Fale by a wide margin) was only involved in team situation. So we got treated to Anderson going toe to toe with the likes of Shibata and O’Reilly one last time. Gallows also got a lot of ring-time and really worked his ass off to make help make this one a very good, if a bit bittersweet, NJPW 8-man tag. But new storylines were also a theme in this watch, with Tonga once again being booked strongly and the continuation of the Shibata/Goto storyline, with poor Goto once again receiving a Shibata wake-up call in the form of an ultra-stiff kick to the back when he got himself in trouble (again). Those “wake-up calls” are starting to get ultra-over with the crowds by the way. I was actually rooting for a Bullet Club win here, given the circumstances, but, OK, it did make sense to put Shibata over here. Post-match Tonga and Fale saluted the departing warriors. Anderson and Gallows then paid their respects to the crowd, who rewarded them with a rousing ovation. Great moment there, especially for Anderson who has spend so many years in the promotion and was known for giving it his all whatever the situation. End of a chapter also for Gallows, who, despite his limitations, deserves kudos for working his ass off every-time he entered the ring. A visibly touched Anderson then left a NJPW ring for the last time. Thanks guys and I wish you the best in WWE.
KUSHIDA and Moose defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI) in 08:21 via pinfall:
Very entertaining and well booked tag match, whose objective was (again) to put Moose over. And mission accomplished as the crowd had lots of fun chanting “Moose” everytime he did his hand-gesture and popped hugely for his power-moves. Naito was his usual despicable self here which worked like a charm against the babyface. KUSHIDA and Moose also had a good big guy/small guy chemistry going on here, with KUSHIDA selling like mad which alloed Moose comebacks to look even more impressive. The Moose top rope dropkick on Naito got an huge reaction, and, one spear on BUSHI later, the faces could celebrate. Very fun stuff.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong defeated CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) in 15:47 via pinfall:
Fun started pre-match with Ishii going face to face with Strong and shoving the ROH TV title in the former champion’s face. Ishii is always awesome when it comes to pissing off his opponent. Hilarious segment at the start, with Tanahashi borrowing Moose’s hand-gesture to get the crowd to chant “ACE”. I wonder what Okada thought of that one. Good stuff all around, as expected, even if Tanahashi again took a back-seat to the action, which is logical given his injuries. The spotlight was on Ishii and Strong, of course, but also with some good interaction between Elgin and Okada, Elgin and YOSHI-HASHI and, well, Elgin and pretty much everyone. In the closing stretch of the match YOSHI-HASHI had some great offense against against, even pulling off an heart-sopping near-fall. But in the end, Big Mike set the record straight by Power-bombing YOSHI-HASHI into oblivion. Post-match, Strong actually taunted Ishii, which is like waving a red flag in front of an already enraged bull. Wild pull-appart brawl which indicates things are far from over between these two (as if there ever was any doubt). Good stuff.
NEVER Openweight 6-man Championship Match – The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks) with Cody Hall defeated Toru Yano and The Briscoes (c) in 14:55 via pinfall:
Omega came to the ring wearing a New Day T-shirt and calling out Austin Creed (Xavier Woods) which was rather funny. Apparently those two have a rivalry going on for the UpUpDownDown Show (don’t ask, I have no clue). Still New Day vs Elite would probably be better than anything The New Day has done on Raw. But I digress. I said before that they needed to do something different with those belts than simply put Yano and Co against B-teams, if they wanted them to have any relevance at all, and, this kind of match is exactly what the titles needed. First of all, it was a great match and secondly, I really dig this Elite thing. Omega and the Bucks have great chemistry together and, when teaming up, they are smart enough not to go over the top with their shenanigans, but, on the contrary, put the emphasis on their in-ring talents and teamwork. And it worked like a charm. The Elite concentrated on Yano which allowed them to demonstrate all kinds of triple-team moves which Yano sold as if there were no tomorrow. Yano is often under-estimated as just a comedy character, but his work here, more than anything else, really put The Elite over. Briscoes would be cut off from the ring, mostly, and, eventually, outsmarted by The Elite whenever they entered. In the end, Yano would unleashed his patented low-blows and The Elite hilariously treated those “injuries” with Omega’s hair-spray. Double Indie Taker on the Briscoes and Triple Bang For Your Bucks on Yano ended the match and The Elite now have Tag Team gold to put some glitter on their name. Recommended viewing because it was so entertaining on all levels.
ROH World Championship Match – Jay Lethal (c) defeated Tomoaki Honma in 15:32 via pinfall:
Good news for Lethal, he is really getting over with the Japanese crowds, as there were even dueling Honma/lethal chance. Not bad against someone as popular than Honma and what a difference with WK10’s apathy. Lethal came to the ring still wearing Naito’s baseball cap, which would become relevant at the end of the match.This was a good main event with Lethal bringing his A-game against Honma’s Kokeshi-based offense. Of course, the result was never in doubt as Honma isn’t Ishii and there was no way they were gonna put the ROH title on everyone’s favorite loser. But they still managed to spring a surprise on us and Naito, EVIL and BUSHI would interfere towards the end, just before Lethal finished things with the Lethal Injection. Post-match Lethal (with Los Ingobernables) offered an hand-shake which the gullible babyface accepted before being sprayed by BUSHI’s Green Mist Of Doom! Truth Martin then stated Lethal and Los Ingobernables together are unstoppable and Naito official presented Lethal as the newest member of his group, saying he was “his amigo”. Great stuff.
This was another good show. Not on WK or Dominion’s level, but, then, it was never intended to be. The main goal with these two shows was to put over certain ROH wrestlers and, aside from the Castle/Kazarian thing where I’m not quite sure what the intend was, they accomplished this. Indeed, Moose and Lethal got great reaction which, undoubtedly, will mean more NJPW appearances for them in the future, which is great for the wrestlers (more paychecks and exposure) and the promotions (more possibilities for both). Fro ROH, it also helps when WWE is after one or more of their top stars, because those added NJPW paychecks are a big incentive for talent to stay put (see The Young Bucks). But NJPW is also working on some major storylines in the future. The Shibata/Goto thing is very much on, and, when those two explode (with Goto probably joining CHAOS), it will open up the field for a full on SHIBATA (probably accompanied by reDRagon and a few others)) CHAOS feud that will eventually lead to a showdown between the NEVER champion and the IWGP Champion. Also, by attacking Honma, Los Ingobernables has opened the door to a feud against Tag team Champions GBH. Speaking of Los Ingobernables, with lethal now joining them, how long will it take before the group starts looking in the direction of CHAOS? And finally, The Elite has firmly established themselves as a, well, elite among the current NJPW pecking order. Add to that the red-hot Ishii/strong feud and teases of Michael Elgin against just about everyone and this might very well become the most exciting year yet for NJPW since their early 2000’s slump.
Next week, some of NJPW’s top stars will be present at ROH’s 14th anniversary, and after that, on March 3, NJPW’s annual new Japan Cup will start, more on both those events right in on Inside Pulse in the coming week
Tags: bullet club, Dalton Castle, Delirious, doc gallows, Frankie Kazarian, Gedo, hiroshi tanahashi, Jay Lethal, Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Karl Anderson, Katsuyori Shibata, kazuchika okada, Kenny Omega, Kushida, Matt Sydal, Michael Elgin, Moose, njpw, redragon, Roderick Strong, ROH, Ryusuke Tagushi, Tama Tonga, Tetsuya Naito, The Briscoes, Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, Yoshi Hashi, Young Bucks