We’re on night five, and these shows are already blurring into one. The next few have upped the quota to four Tag League matches, so that’s, well, annoying. Let’s dish out some stars.
The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens) (4) defeated The Bullet Club (Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi) (2)
Chase Owens and Hangman Page had a couple of beautiful sequences to kick us off. I’m higher on Owens than most, but it was refreshing to see him get the best out of the usually dull Page.
You can probably look up the GIFs of those because the rest of it was four guys pissing about. They told the story that Fale’s offence was seen as too destructive for this friendly fight. This meant that everyone (including his own partner) was trying to convince him not to hit the Bad Luck Fall. In the end, Yujiro attempting to Too Sweet Fale was enough of a distraction for Chase to score the win with a roll-up.
This was Bullet Club shenanigans without any of the members of Bullet Club that you actually want to see.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (2) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (0)
While The Bullet Club was attempting to put as little effort into their match as possible, the New Japan Dads had fallen out over (insert stereotypical dad joke here) and were getting lairy in the ring to sort it out.
All four men worked their arses off. All four men are also in their late forties and in the case of Nakanishi and Tenzan can barely move nevermind bump. However, they brought an intensity that allowed them to rise above that. Nakanishi even hit a crossbody from the top rope. Okay, it was more like a falling body, but give the guy some credit.
This was a hell of a lot better than it had any right to be. The passion and love that these men put into their art (even as their bodies are failing them) is inspiring, and that alone makes it worth a watch.
Verdict: Three Stars
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka) (2) defeated Los Ingobernables De Japon (Evil and Sanada) (0)
Guess where this ended up?
The crowd brawling shit is bad enough for the fans in attendance – as only the twenty of them near the action are able to see what is going on – but on these shows, it’s a disaster for those of at home too. They’re filmed on one camera which pans and zooms in and shows you absolutely nothing.
In saying that, we can all probably picture what Suzuki was up to in that crowd. We’ve seen it enough times. This was crap. It’s always crap. Sanada and Evil are better. Suzuki can be better than this. And Iizuka, yeah okay, he’s not better than this.
In the end, Despy would provide the distraction, Iizuka will provide the claw and Suzuki the piledriver. LIJ go 0-2.
Verdict: One Star
Death Juice (Juice Robinson and Sami Callihan) (4) defeated CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI) (2)
Death Juice (still a shit name) are being built as the team to beat in A Block. With Juice unlikely to get a singles match at Wrestle Kingdom, a shot at the Heavyweight Tag Titles would seem to make sense. It’s a shame it would be with Callihan.
Even ignoring the issues with his personal life (which I don’t like to do, but the truth is that I don’t know enough about them. It’s all Twitter-based comments so far. If anyone wants to fill me in please do), I don’t get it. Even as he tries ridiculously hard, everything about him stands out as not belonging in New Japan. His gear is atrocious and his in-ring style is not a natural fit. I’m not going to wish him out of a job, I just don’t want him in big spots.
This did have Juice, Goto and YOSHI in it too and they put together a solid little outing. It won’t be remembered this time tomorrow, nevermind in a week, however, it did what it had to do.
Verdict: Three Stars
It doesn’t show in the ratings but the dads were my favourite thing on this show. It wasn’t any better than the main event and yet because of the passion they showed, I’ll remember it for longer. The truth is, you can skip this. It’s another mediocre show in what has so far been a mediocre tournament. Go catch up on some of the great wrestling you’ve missed this year instead.