10 Thoughts On … NJPW Strong Style Evolved March 25, 2018 (Young Bucks Versus Golden Lovers, Will Ospreay Versus Jushin Liger, Rey Mysterio)

Thought Zero – So I saw a good portion of the NJPW event on AXS television last night. I’m not going to dwell on it, but I thought I would mention it since so many Ring of Honor wrestlers appeared on the show. Just a few thoughts , no numbers needed, on it:

  • The show was super long (like 4 hours long), but honestly it did not seem as tedious as even most 3 hour Raws. Maybe it is because I don’t see these guys all the time, I am not sure. But I was still awake by the main event, and that is saying something.
  • Speaking of the main event, the main event of the Golden Lovers versus the Young Bucks was excellent. Matt Jackson must be taking acting lessons because his facial expressions, emotional outbursts, and more were just fantastic. Also, by this point, I don’t know if his back is hurting seriously or not.
  • The Young Bucks are definitely starting to show their influences stronger now. Matt Jackson seems to be Matt Hardy to Nick’s daredevil Jeff Hardy. And, while they both sell well, last night’s match really made me think that Matt Jackson is Ricky Morton to Nick’s Robert Gibson hot tags and saves.
  • In other actions, Jay White still needs a scrunchie. But he is convincing as a heavyweight now. The extra muscle he has put on in the past year, in addition to his continued growth in the ring, has done a lot to help him look more like a main eventer. I’m not sure what a feud with David Finley does for him, but he looked very much a champion tonight.
  • Speaking of the NJPW United States title, if Hangman Page does not break out as a huge star this year, I will be shocked. The progression of Page’s persona and skill since I’ve started watching him in Ring of Honor is just unbelievable. The dude has always had some very impressive, and fan friendly, offense, but his mean streak and wildness has blossomed this past year and I would have been 100% okay if he took the title from Jay White last night. Excellent showing from him.
  • Rey Mysterio was there last night, torn rotator cuff and all. Of course, he was not able to compete, but he did promise to return and wrestle for NJPW. I guess that WWE negotiation isn’t going as well as hoped.
  • Mysterio’s replacement, Will Ospreay, defeated Jushin Thunder Liger in a non-title match. Now, I understand keeping Ospreay strong, he’s the future and Liger is like 1000 years old, but if they were going to have him win anyway, why not make it a title defense?
  • Now, even though Liger is old as dust, the dude can still go. Seriously, this was a super fun match and I found myself really wanting Liger to pull the upset here. After the match, Ospreay even complimented Liger for being so awesome at 53! Honestly, I am not sure anyone would have guessed the legend behind that mask was 53 if you didn’t know he’s been around since they invented wrestling boots.
  • In addition, if you didn’t already know Marty Scurll was awesome, he attacked Ospreay from behind to remind you. Then he pulled the mask off Rey Mysterio and started wearing it half on and half off. He ran from Liger, but just because he doesn’t support elderly abuse like Ospreay.
  • Scurll was also involved in a Bullet Club versus Bullet Club match earlier. He and Cody teamed up against the Guerrillas of Destiny. After some Cody shenanigans to begin (and Cody has finally found a way to make the NJPW crowd boo him at least), the G.O.D. kicked Cody around and to the floor. Scurll then did a very funny and over the top display of cheering for the G.O.D. and yelling at Cody outside the ring so he wouldn’t suffer the same fate. It didn’t help, but it was entertaining.
  • Tama Tonga was SUPER OVER with this crowd tonight. And justifiably so. I’ve talked about how quick he is in the past, but it is nuts. Every single move of his looks like it is a snap version. The dude really should be a huge star. And Tanga Loa, while still not great, has gotten better and is showing some nice flashes of personality.
  • I haven’t mentioned it yet, but the camera work was not great. It was almost as if the cameras were too close, or they had a zoom lens on them. You couldn’t see the whole ring, they missed a lot of spots, etc. It was annoying.
  • Rappongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) teamed with Rocky Romero to defeat SoCal Uncensored. I didn’t care about this match and was not too spectacular. Kazarian flubbed a springboard legdrop early on which the crowd notcied. He did try to play up a potential leg injury after that though, so kudos for trying. I just don’t care that much about any of these guys except Daniels.
  • David Finley and Juice Robinson defeated Hirooki Goto and Gedo, and I just don’t really get the love for Juice Robinson. I mean, he’s okay, but I don’t see “star” in him. Maybe it is just me.
  • Killer Elite Squad defeated Toru Yano and Chuck Taylor (sorry, I just have a hard time calling him Chuckie T). Taylor is not bad, but I tend to not love his comedy stylings. And Yano annoys the ever-loving shit out of me. So I am going to pass on speaking about this one except to say that somehow Lance Archer has made himself into a believable monster.
  • In one of those NJPW huge tag matches where one faction faces off against another, Los Ingobernales de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Bushi, Sanada, and Hiromu Takahashi) defeated Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kushida, and Dragon Lee). Naito got the pin on Taguchi, which is pretty much how it should have gone down. Not having EVIL there lowered the excitement level for me a tad, but everyone worked hard. Nothing changed with how you viewed everyone though, as you come away from the match still feeling that Naito and Tanahashi are superstars, Kushida and Lee are two of the best light heavyweights in the world, and Takahashi is super fun but underutilized.
  • Also on the card was the first meeting between Kazuchika Okada and Zack Sabre, Jr., albeit in a tag match with Tomohiro Ishii and Minoru Suzuki also involved. Now, as someone who does not watch a ton of NJPW, I came into this match without expectation. I know they are building to Sabre versus Okada, and I can see why. Sabre is pretty damn awesome and Okada is arguably the best in the world right now. But watching this match, and I recommend you do, is for one main reason only – to see Suzuki and Ishii beat the snot out of each other! At first, I was thinking, eh, these two “badasses” are throwing pretty weak looking forearms and elbows at each other, but that changed quickly. You could actually see the intensity and strength of their blows increasing as they got more and more into the match. Suzuki and Sabre also had some cool double team stretches and submission holds during the match. Violent and fun. The only issue I have is that the match made me want to see a singles match between Suzuki and Ishii more than a singles match between Sabre and Okada. I don’t think that is what they wanted the result to be.
  • They announced they will be returning to the United States in July, so that’s cool.
  • Maybe I am just getting grouchy in my age, but I am not enjoying Jim Ross on play-by-play any more. Josh Barnett is pretty lame on commentary as well. I would much rather listen to Kevin Kelly work these shows, but I know JR is a bigger name, etc. It just seems like he misses so much or miscalls so much these days. I don’t know, maybe I just need a Snickers.
  • Finally, Kenny Omega ended the show by chasing off Cody after he came out to berate the Young Bucks for losing. Nick wound up shaking hands with Omega, but Matt was not so quick to forgive, which was an excellent beat. Finally, Omega put over NJPW, talked about them coming back, and dropped in a line about him possibly having a broken orbital bone. I’m not sure when in the match he injured it, but it did look like it was starting to swell up and discolor badly by the end of his speech. If he does have a broken orbital bone, I wonder how that will affect the upcoming Bullet Club showdown between he and Cody. I mean, I can imagine they can get some play out of it with Cody offering to loan him his old phantom-looking mask, etc., but he could be out a while. Since I am already over the Bullet Club, anything that might prolong this storyline is not a friend of mine.

I’ll be back in a little bit with 10 Thoughts about Ring of Honor television this week and a new Fantasy Book later this week to ruminate on Wrestlemania possibilities. Until then…


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