NJPW Destruction in Kobe Review

The New Japan camera people always catch this shot perfectly. Credit: NJPW

The Destruction tour comes to an end and it’s safe to say that in an incredible year for New Japan, these shows won’t be making the scoreboard. It’s had its moments, but it has been a B tour through and through, and 90% of the cards were made up of tag matches. That doesn’t stop us rating them, though. Let’s dish out those stars.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Hirai Kawato defeated Katsuya Kitamura and Tomoyuki Oka

Oka brings the suplexes. Credit: NJPW

The three jewels of New Japan’s Young Lions in the same match and, apart from a bit of confusion between Oka and Tenzan on the Mountain Bomb, they did a good job. No one is going to be talking about this tomorrow, never mind next week, but these young talents are heading towards stardom, and the more time they spend in the ring with people like Tenzan the better.

Verdict: Two Stars

Togi Makabe, Ricochet, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Takashi Iizuka)

It’s a big old knee. Credit: NJPW

I could probably copy and paste this review from previous shows. Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell. Taguchi did some arse related stuff. Ricochet is amazing. This was to build towards Makabe vs. Suzuki – and Makabe did pick up the win – but with Suzuki in America and Makabe spending most of the match hiding on the outside, it didn’t do a great job. Skip it.

Verdict; One And A Half Stars

CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto) defeated Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens)

Goto tries to remind everyone he still exists. Credit: NJPW

The most interesting thing about this match was Kevin Kelly hinting that New Japan had plans in Australia and New Zealand. That scene is producing a small army of talented wrestlers, and NJPW is in the best position geographically to take advantage of it. The match itself was most definitely a match. They seem to be heating up Goto and YOSHI for World Tag League, but once again, it was Chase Owens who impressed me. The guy has something and I’d like to see him given a chance to prove it.

The match itself was most definitely a match. They seem to be heating up Goto and YOSHI for the World Tag League, but once again, it was Chase Owens who impressed me. The guy has something and I’d like to see him given a chance to prove it.

Verdict: Two Stars

Beretta defeated Yujiro Takahashi

A heavyweight suplex. Credit: NJPW

I have been in favour of this feud since the start, and this brought it to its natural conclusion as Beretta picked up the win. The match was never going to be a classic, but from a storyline perspective, it worked. Yujiro dominated most of the action and hit Beretta with a couple of big moves, but the new heavyweight refused to lose. I’m not sure where Trent goes from here, but this at least suggests that New Japan has plans for him.

Verdict: Three Stars

Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr and Vance Archer) defeated War Machine (Raymond Rowe and Hanson) and Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa)

Seriously, those bloody Japanese tables. Credit: NJPW

This match benefited from the tornado tag rules. It allowed the brawling to be a bit more fluid and when the action got to the ring it was very good. If this had been the first time we’d seen it, you might have even called it great. Sadly, it wasn’t, but there were still some cool moments. The Davey Boy table spot was sickening as it didn’t so much break as explode underneath him, while War Machine continue to be great. I’m genuinely a bit gutted to see them lose the belts, but Hanson’s post-match rant at least suggests that we’ll be seeing them versus K.E.S. somewhere down the line. Whatever happens in the future, this was the best match of the tour from these three teams.

Verdict: Three Stars

Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated David Finlay and Kota Ibushi

‘I want to play with Kota.’ ‘No, I want to play with Kota.’ Credit: NJPW

There were two things you could guarantee in this match. That David Finlay was going to eat the pinfall, and that it was probably going to be quite fun. As is the case with these tag matches you couldn’t expect a classic, but the hints we saw of Tanahashi and Ibushi did nothing to lower my excitement for that feud. I also can’t be the only one who’d like to see Ibushi and Elgin butt heads at some point down the line. This was four fantastic professional wrestlers having a match, it was never going to be bad.

Verdict: Three Stars

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Rocky Romero and Toru Yano) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada and Bushi)

This one will be good. Credit: NJPW

Much like the match above, this was unlikely to stink. It was setting up Ishii and Naito and they’re doing a great job with that. When it’s a straight fight between the two, Ishii is the winner, but the second Naito gets an inch, he takes a yard, and the damage he is doing to Ishii’s leg gives him a target heading into the match. Elsewhere, we got a bit of Rocky vs. Bushi and Yano did Yano stuff which I can’t even be bothered being angry about. All in all, a nice way to spend a bit of time.

Verdict: Three Stars

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Evil and Hiromu Takahashi)

He shoots, he scores. Credit: NJPW

Evil wrestles Okada like a man who has been watching him defend his title for the last year. Everything Okada does he has an answer for. From the Rainmaker to the dive over the barricade. New Japan and Evil are doing a fantastic job of putting that smidgen of doubt in the fans’ minds. Of convincing you that maybe, Evil can be the guy to beat the guy. On the other halves of these teams, Takahashi has lost his aura since losing the belt, but he is still one hell of a wrestler. They’ve confirmed Ospreay vs. Kushida, but I really hope it’s not the end of his involvement in this feud.

Verdict: Three Stars

Kenny Omega defeated Juice Robinson to retain the IWGP US Title

The Young Lions’ face says it all. Credit: NJPW

All the respect in the world to Kenny Omega. Everything I’ve read suggests that guy should be nowhere near wrestling, never mind wrestling to that high a level. This was a big night for Juice, and it would have been easy for Omega to take it easy, but he did nothing of the sort and put in another big performance.

It was also a fantastic chapter in the story of Juice. Once again he gave everything he had in a big match against a better wrestler but didn’t quite have enough to get the job done. This time, we even saw him develop a more vicious side to his game, as he altered the plan to go after that knee. Juice is the good guy, but he knew to win the title he was going to have to do take advantage of the opportunity presented to him.

The final stretch of this match, from the insane suplex to the floor onward, was fantastic. Both men gave it everything they had and when Juice hit the Pulp Friction (which no one had kicked out of) I suddenly believed that he could win the belt. Ultimately, he took one risk too many and Omega caught him with the One Wing Angel from the second rope. However, as is becoming the norm, Juice Robinson came out of this match looking better than he did going in.

Verdict: Four Stars

Overall Show

Making Takahashi go all weak at the knees. Credit: NJPW

There were a lot of three-star matches on this show followed up by a great main event. It wasn’t good enough to put it up there with the best shows of the year, but it was a very easy watch. Don’t miss Juice vs. Kenny, but you can pick and choose with the rest.

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