In a strange way, the pressure was off Destruction in Hiroshima. The first Destruction show was New Japan’s worst outing this year and it’s lowered the expectations for this tour. The wrestlers booked here won’t have to do much to impress, as it isn’t hard to improve on crap. Let’s dish out those stars.
CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto and Jado) defeated Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask and Hiroyoshi Tenzan
This was standard New Japan opening fare. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t that good. I’d have honestly preferred a Young Lion match, as at least that would have felt less pointless. Jado continues to suck and Goto and YOSHI continue to deserve better. There’s not much else to say.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Juice Robinson and David Finlay defeated Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale and Leo Tonga)
Leo Tonga is a big boy, but he is working at a level below even New Japan’s Young Lions. There is a lot of work to go before he is anything more than fine. Fine was about what this match was too. I still like Juice and Finlay, and they seem to have a blast teaming up together, but in the ring with a rookie and Fale, there was only so much they could do.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) defeated Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens)
I’ve seen a lot of people down on the Takahashi and Beretta feud, but I’m sticking with my initial assessment that it’s a nice way to introduce Trent to the Heavyweight division. It’s an easy win and it keeps him busy.
This was a nice moment for Roppongi, who will be missed in the Junior Tag Division. Sadly, the emotion wasn’t enough to raise it above mediocrity. To throw in a positive, however, Chase Owens continues to impress me. For a lower card job guy, he has some really nice offence, and he’s fun to watch, which is half the battle.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Kota Ibushi, Michael Elgin and Togi Makabe defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku and Takashi Iizuka)
I resent Suzuki-gun’s ability to make me dread a match involving Large Michael and Kota Ibushi. That should never happen.
Believe it or not, the trolls attacked before the bell; why don’t teams see that coming? It’s probably not even worth complaining about it anymore, they do it every show, they’re not going to stop.
When the trolls weren’t trolling it was actually alright. Suzuki and Makabe facing off was fun, but just as it looked like we were going to get a taste of Minoru vs. Kota they unleashed the shenanigans again. I’m glad to see Ibushi pick up the win, particularly with what happened later. It appears we’ll see more of Makabe vs. Suzuki too, which is… fine? I guess.
Verdict: Two Stars
Funky Future (Ricochet and Taguchi) defeated Suzuki-gun (Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) to retain the IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles
Funky Future are my new favourite tag-team. I love wrestlers who are enjoying themselves, and they look like they have a blast. There’s a lot of repeated spots, but they always make me laugh.
For those counting, we made it about ten seconds before shenanigans. It’s the laziness that annoys me. Taguchi and Ricochet are fantastic wrestlers, and yet they end up having another Suzuki-gun match. They’re all the same.
Things picked up after Ricochet’s hot tag, as Suzuki-gun had a couple of nice near falls. The match went a lot longer than I expected, so there were a few moments when I was certain it was done.
Ricochet’s tope to the outside in the build-up to the finish was a thing of beauty, and the coach came through to pick up the win. The final stretch elevated this past its poor beginnings and, despite my complaints, it ended up being an alright match.
Verdict: Three Stars
War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe) defeated Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr and Lance Archer) and Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga) to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
If Davey Boy is going to inherit something from his dad, can he not make it the jeans? Very few – if any – can pull off wrestling in jeans.
I’d resolved to try and ignore that this was the second of the three times we will see this match, and review it on its own merits. Unfortunately, it was too similar to the last one for that to be possible. I love War Machine, think K.E.S. are decent and G.O.D. are good on their day, but for some reason, these matches are doing nothing for me. The three-way format is restrictive, and it inevitably dissolves into a chaotic brawl. Chaotic brawls can be fun, but the same chaotic brawl time after time gets boring.
On the upside, War Machine are fantastic, and I’m glad to see them pick up the win again. Rowe and Hanson are the most cohesive team in wrestling not called Jackson, and I could watch them do their thing for hours on end. Sadly, I can’t see them winning again, and I think they’re being set up to drop the belts on the third go-round, despite having now pinned both of their opponents.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Los Ingobernabes de Japon (EVIL, Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi) defeated CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Gedo and Toru Yano)
It’s LIJ vs. CHAOS, these are always at least decent. As a general rule, it was at its best when the three major feuds were in the ring, and at its worse when Yano was. Naito and Ishii had a fun stretch and I have no doubt that their single match will be a MOTY contender.
New Japan seems to be building the idea that Evil has Okada’s number. I can’t see him winning the belt, but every time he goes in there and mixes it up as Okada’s equal, he comes out looking better. On top of that, having him get the visual pinfall was a striking image.
I would have liked a bit more of Takahashi vs. Ospreay, but this was still an entertaining tag match and was easily the best thing on the show at this point.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Kushida defeated El Desperado to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
This match would sink or swim on the shenanigans. If there were a lot of them, it would flounder, drowning as the sharks circled. If they were kept to a minimum, there was a chance it could skim along the top of the water, returning gloriously to shore.
Well, there was no skimming, but there wasn’t any drowning either. Desperado was bending the rules but in a classic heel style, rather than full-blown Suzuki-gun crap. In a shocking move, two talented wrestlers were allowed to wrestle and did damn well
These two are more in the mould of classic New Japan juniors. They can both do the spectacular, but they’re equally adept on the ground. In fact, it kind of became Stretch Muffler vs. Hoverboard Lock. This worked in their favour, as it gave this a different vibe to the Junior Title matches we’ve seen recently. It was slower, but not in a bad way. Both men had a plan, and they were intent on seeing it through.
It wasn’t enough for Despy, though, as Kushida picked up the win. It was the right call. He should lose the belt on the biggest stage after taking it off Hiromu and Desperado is far from the top of the Junior pecking order.
Verdict: Four Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Zack Sabre Jr. to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Title
This match was so close to being a classic as Zack and Tanahashi told an interesting story. The Former Ace decided to try and play the technical master at his own game – and while he did a lot better than might be expected – he was constantly caught by the better wrestler.
It was only when Tanahashi took a risk that he was able to assert his dominance. He created the distance and flew from the top rope to the floor with a picture perfect High Fly Flow. He followed up with a second one in the ring and was going for the third… when Suzuki-gun struck. Rather than a satisfying finish, one which taught us that Sabre could hang with Tanahashi, but was caught at the end, we got more bullshit.
Thankfully, said bullshit was short-lived and didn’t play into the finish, but it still took something away. During the G1, Sabre was the Suzuki-gun member who did it without the gang. MiSu’s matches were riddled with interference, but ZSJ did it by himself. Suzuki’s interference here ruined that. Zack’s story was changed from him losing this match to one of New Japan’s best, to losing the match to their best, despite all his mates helping him out.
This was still a very good match. If you don’t like Sabre’s style, then it won’t be the one to change it, but if like me, you take pleasure in watching him inflict pain, you’ll be in heaven. Plus, it ended with Tanahashi calling out Ibushi, and who in their right mind is going to complain about that?
Verdict: Four Stars
This was a big improvement. We had a decent Junior tag Match, a fun LIJ vs Chaos ten man and two great main events. They were dumb enough to have this be a Suzuki-gun heavy show, but smart enough to prevent them from ruining it.
One of the biggest faults was actually the crowd, who felt a bit flat. Even with that in mind, this was a return to form and much closer to the New Japan we all know and love.