I have to thank a reader whose email handle told me nothing, and who did not sign his email, but who read my last 10 Thoughts on the Super Showdown and thought I needed a lift. So he sent me this show.
It has been well over 6 years since I last saw Japanese wrestling. I had no idea what the commentators were saying, who the faces or heels were supposed to be, so I was just watching a show purely for the joy of watching some wrestling.
Well… this was quite the decent antidote for what I watched the other day. Now, I apologise in advance for any mistakes I made in writing down the names of the competitors. To be honest, I had no idea who the vast majority of the Japanese wrestlers were, and so I need to apologise for that as well.
Anyway, ten thoughts.
(1) Jon Moxley defeated Shota Umino in a very short little match that was essentially a squash. What a weird way to start the show.
(2) “The Dragon” Shingo Takagi defeated Satoshi Kojima in around ten minutes. Started as a match to see how often they could hit each other (forearms and chops), then became a wrestling match. While it was fine and there were certainly a number of bits I enjoyed, it felt disjointed and oddly paced. The final two moves – a pump handle power bomb and some sort of weird driver – were quite impressive leading to the pinfall win.
(3) Yoshi-Hashi & Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr (British champ of something) in about 10 minutes. Nifty little good, old-fashioned tag team match. No doubt who the heels were; Liger’s wake-up kick to his partner was cool; Suzuki had great facials. Yeah, I liked it.
(4) Ryusuke Taguchi, “The Flamboyant” Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens & Jay White (with Gedo), Chase Owens in about ten minutes. Bit of a mess of a match, and the final move that got the pin looked rather lame, made worse in the slow motion replay.
(5) Tomohiro Ishii defeated Taichi in a little over 10 minutes to become the new NEVER Openweight Champion (whatever that is… sorry). It started off slow, then built up gradually to a damn fine ending which led to a brainbuster by Ishii for the pin. A really good match.
(6) Guerrillas of Destiny (Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) defeated “Cold Skull” Sanada & Evil to retain the IWGP Tag Team Titles in around fifteen minutes or so. It was just a match. Not bad, not brilliant, not dull, just a match. It lacked something that’s hard to put my finger on. The ending came with a tights-assisted pin.
(7) Will Ospreay defeated Dragon Lee to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in around 20 minutes. THIS is what I’d been hoping for. What a freakin’ match. I saw some things I have never seen before – Lee rana’ed Ospreay from the apron to the floor… but Ospreay somersaulted completely in the air and landed on his feet! There were other moves into counters into counter-counters it would take me paragraphs to describe. And the best Spanish fly I have ever seen. This was just a great match. No shenanigans, no interference, just two guys putting it all on the line to win that title. New contender for my personal MOTY and definitely MOTN. And post-match Lee straps the title around Ospreay’s waist. Watch this!
(Apparently Ospreay has a match against Eagles next. Great. One of my least favourite Aussie wrestlers.)
(8) Tetsuya Naito defeated Kota Ibushi to become the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion in a little over 20 minutes. So how do you follow that last match? By doing something a little different. This was a lot harder hitting and looked a little nastier in some of the bumps taken (German suplex to the edge of the apron?!). Another very good match, and another one well worth catching.
(9) Kazuchika Okada defeated Chris Jericho to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in around 25 minutes. Another really good match, on a par with the one it followed. And, again, it was different, more “sports entertainment” than we’d seen on this show up to now. Again, I enjoyed it, and a lot of that was because it was paced well, the babyface comebacks at just the right time, the heel turnarounds before it looked like a win. And then, post-match, Jericho goes all poor loser on Okada, Pilmanizing his head and neck on the outside, until Tanahashi, who has been on commentary, makes the save.
(10) Okay, it started off slow and awkward, but the last three matches made this worth the price of admission alone. Especially Ospreay/Lee. This was a good show – not as good as the AEW show, but better than all WWE shows I’ve seen this year. I am really glad it was sent to me.
Look, I am not an aficionado of puroresu. My exposure to it, even in all the years I have been watching this sport, has been rather limited. And when I watch it, I watch it like I watch older wrestling shows – I don’t care who wins, I just want to be entertained. If I am, even without knowing anything about what I am watching, then the wrestlers/bookers/etc. have done a good job. NJPW did a good job. I’m ready for the next show…
And there’s yet another 10 Thoughts done. Did anyone else actually watch this show? Does anyone have other NJPW shows they can recommend I try to find? Sound off in the comments below!
Tags: Chase Owens, Dominion 2019, Dragon Lee Will Ospreay, EVIL, Guerilla's of destiny, Ibushi, IGWP, ishii, Ishimori, Jay White, Jericho, Jon Moxley, Juice Robinson, Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Kojima, Minoru Suzuki, naito, njpw, Okada, Sanada, Taguchi, Taichi, Takagi, Tanahashi, Umino, Yoshi Hashi, Zack Sabre Jr.