This was one hell of a card. New Japan’s last major show of the year was stacked, as every title match not involving a bull rope looked like a guaranteed success. Throw in some intrigue over the debut of Switchblade and Wrestle Kingdom beginning to take shape, and this was unmissable. Let’s dish out some stars.
David Finlay defeated Katsuya Kitamura
The forgotten former Young Lion vs the Young Lion who is set to be a star. I feel sorry for David Finlay, the poor guy can’t catch a break and the fact that a few people thought Kitamura might win this says everything you need to know about his current standing.
This was another solid showing from the terrifying trainee that is Kitamura. He is heading in the right direction and you can see that New Japan has a bit of faith in him. It won’t be long till he actually is beating David Finlay.
Verdict: Two Stars
The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defeated Dragon Lee And Titan
This is how you open a show. Flippy shit for everyone. The Bucks came into this feeling fresh after taking a bit of time off from Japan. Throw in the fantastic Titan and Dragon Lee, and you’ve got yourself a tasty recipe.
This was fantastically fun pro wrestling as both teams spent more time in the air than they did on the ground. It did everything that it needed to do and heated the Bucks up for their role later in the night.
Verdict: Three Stars
KUSHIDA, Juice Robinson, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask and Hirai Kawato defeated Suzuki-gun (Taka Michinoku, Taichi, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Zack Sabre Jr)
You’ll never guess what those dastardly Suzuki-gun members did? They attacked before the bell! Can you believe it?
This was the get everyone on the card match, and it most definitely did that. The only intrigue surrounding it came from Juice Robinson deleting his social media, a mystery we were provided with no answer to; although him teaming with Sami Callihan at WTL might be a hint.
KUSHIDA got the victory over Taka, and this was most definitely a match.
Verdict: Two Stars
Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) and Togi Makabe defeated The Bullet Club (Cody Rhodes, Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi)
Could you imagine Okada travelling to America to work a multi-man tag on the undercard of an ROH show? No, because he wouldn’t.
This was another match. The babyface team had a combined age of 138, and you could tell. They moved around the ring with all the urgency of an irate turtle. Throw in a B-list Bullet Club line-up and, well, yea. I like Chase Owens and that’s about as nice as I can be.
The question coming into this was why Cody was there and whether we’d find out here or later in the show. The answer turned out to be neither as he confronted Ibushi post-show. Could he not have done a video package and avoided the jet-lag?
Verdict: Two Stars
Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH) defeated Super 69 (ACH and Ryuskue Taguchi)
I bet Taguchi and ACH find their tag team name hilarious. Funky Future was good, but Super 69 is a more believable unit, and I guarantee they spend 90% of their time together giggling.
This was another impressive showing from Roppongi 3K. On the whole, the Junior Tag Tournament has been great. Packed with entertaining and fresh matches. More importantly, Roppongi 3K has been made to look dominant.
This was at its best when it sailed into the higher gears. Taguchi had his game face on, and it’s worth pointing out that he’s had a solid year in the mid-card. Taguchi Japan never fail to deliver, and a lot of that is down to the coach.
In the end, Roppongi 3K would confirm their status at the top of the division as they took advantage of ACH’s injured ribs to pick up a pretty trophy. They should have a great match with The Bucks at Wrestle Kingdom.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii and Gedo) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, SANADA, EVIL and Hiromu Takahashi)
Gosh, we’ve never seen this before. I wonder what gave Gedo the idea?
All joking aside, CHAOS vs LIJ is a New Japan staple, and they throw it out there at least once a month. It’s always entertaining, but it’s for the fans in the arena to see the big names rather than for us at home.
Once again, it was fun. Okada survived Naito’s attempts and came out looking dominant. There’s not much more to say.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Minoru Suzuki defeated Toru Yano to retain the NEVER Title in a Bullrope match
Yano somehow managed to look scarier than Suzuki which is something I never thought I’d say.
This was garbage and it managed to plummet through my rock bottom expectations. It was boring as hell, and at one point Iizuka walked down the ramp just to stand around for a while.
I know some people like Yano, and maybe this was interesting to them, but it wasn’t to me. Suzuki’s NEVER title run is somehow making an irrelevant belt even worse.
Verdict: One Star
Marty Scurll defeated Will Ospreay to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
Death, taxes and Marty Scurll beats Will Ospreay.
Wow, I did not see that coming.
This was the Marty Scurll that I’ve wanted to see in New Japan since the beginning. The bird noises were kept to a minimum and the Bullet Club antics were non-existent. Instead, he was violent and vicious, and in being so, he brought the best out of Will Ospreay. These two men beat the crap out of each other and just like they have all over the world they had an outstanding encounter.
Then came that finish. I think everyone and their dog assumed this was going to be a big win for Ospreay going into Wrestle Kingdom but death, taxes and Marty Scurll beats Will Ospreay. I’m not entirely sure it’s a good move. However, in a company that tends to avoid shock results, it was one hell of a moment. Scurll stole the belt from around Will’s waist and in their ongoing story that works.
Let’s talk about the aftermath. I’m not going to lie, I don’t want a four-way. I wanted Ospreay vs Takahashi. I’m sure it will be good and I have no doubt those four men will kill themselves to make it so. It’s just not what I want from New Japan. In saying that, Wrestle Kingdom is going to have plenty of singles matches and I have faith that they’ll win me around when the bell goes.
Verdict: Four Stars
Kenny Omega defeated Beretta to retain the IWGP US Title
Trent is a phenomenal seller. He makes everyone he’s in the ring with look like an absolute star and with Kenny Omega already being a star this was double star power.
In fact, he’s pretty great at everything. There’s a chance this was the biggest match of his career and he went out there and gave it one hell of a showing. Not only did he almost kill himself, but he took his chances to shine too. That sliding German was fantastic and he rallied the crowd behind him as he tried everything he could to wrestle that US Title away from The Cleaner. There was one roll up just before the finish where I believed for a second.
Of course, it’s not the time for Kenny to drop that belt yet and he got the win. However, I don’t think it’s Kenny that people will focus on when talking about this. Beretta went out there and proved that he could compete at this level and that was the talking point here.
Verdict: Four Stars
I’m keeping this separate so as not to distract from Beretta’s performance but Kenny vs Jericho is a joke, yes? Even Old Man Jericho is self-aware enough to know that Kenny is on a different level from him in 2017? If Jericho were fifteen years younger, this would be great. Now? It’s a waste. In a world where Kenny vs Kota was a possibility Kenny vs Jericho doesn’t cut it. In saying all that, I seem to be in the minority so put me down as the miserable bastard on this one.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kota Ibushi to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Title
After all that nonsense we still had the main event to come. Luckily, New Japan had two men who are very capable of bringing people’s attention back to the ring.
This was beautiful pro wrestling and then Kota and Tanahashi started slapping each other and it turned into a war. A switch went off in Ibushi’s head and he turned into a killer. Then, while he was beating the former Ace around the head he obviously connected with Tanahashi’s switch and turned that off too.
What always amazes me with these two is how complete they are as pro wrestlers. They bring a bit of everything to the table and even when mistakes happen (that top rope frankensteiner was scary) they calmly reset and get back into their groove. They are phenomenal and if they wrestled every day for the next year, I’d still be tuning in on day 365.
No wrestler on the planet puts a match together better than Hiroshi Tanahashi and this was a perfect example of that. The story of Ibushi trying to prove he was ready to do this but the great man just having a bit too much for him was beautifully built and I hope that one day down the line we get to see these two do this again.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Post-match I was genuinely worried that Cody was going to walk down that ramp and challenge Tanahashi. I could feel it coming and I did not want it. So thank fuck we got Jay White. This is something I actually want to see and having White come back against the master is a lovely piece of booking by Gedo. The former Young Lion is being thrown in at the deep end and I have full faith he can swim.
What an outstanding wrestling show. If you ignore the bullrope nonsense, everything delivered. Even if I have issues with the Jericho news, I can’t deny how big that is for New Japan and it will hopefully draw a lot of eyes to the show. Plus, White going up against Tanahashi shows they’re not ditching the new faces for the old. Let’s hope this momentum can continue through Tag League and into January 4th.