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Andrew’s New Japan Cup 2019 Final Day Ratings & Analysis

New Japan Cup comes to an end! SANADA versus OKADA! Who goes to MSG? How was the rest of the show?

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New Japan Cup comes to an end! SANADA versus OKADA! Who goes to MSG? How was the rest of the show?

Okada was the favorite going into this Cup since he’s…well…Okada. Many close calls and rough matches brought up the question of who would meet him in the Finals. SANADA overcame Minoru Suzuki, Hirooki Goto, Colt Cabana and Hiroshi Tanahashi to get here. Even though Okada is the favorite, SANADA has done a lot to establish himself in this tournament.

That’s enough typing, let’s see how the show went.

Ratings:

  • Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura: Nagata wins via Nagata Lock 2 @6:30 – **
  • Michael Elgin, Toa Henare & Colt Cabana vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Shota Umino: Elgin wins via Elgin Bomb @8:20 – ** 1/4
  • Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad vs Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano: Suzuki-Gun wins via Killer Bomb @7:30 – ** 1/2
  • Tomohiro Ishii, Ren Narita, Ryusuke Taguchi & Kota Ibushi vs Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, EVIL & Shingo Takagi: Shingo wins via Pumping Bomber @11:40 – *** 1/4
  • Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi & Will Ospreay: Taichi wins via Gedo Clutch @10:20 – ***
  • Mikey Nicholls, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs Hikuleo, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White: White wins via Blade Runner @9:45 – *** 
  • IWGP US Title Match: Juice Robinson (c) vs Chase Owens: Juice retains via Pulp Friction @22:10 – ***
  • NJ Cup Finals: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA: Okada wins via Rainmaker @33:05 – *****

 

Analysis:

We get the usual veterans versus Young Lion match. You could tell the length of the New Japan tour wore on the veterans a little since early on the moves were slow and a little sloppy. But once the Young Lions turned up the aggression, the Veterans put them in their place well enough.

Solid 6 man action. TenCozy worked with Colt and Henare mainly, then when Elgin and Umino got tagged in, there was an almost obvious sense of “oh okay, the finish will be soon”. Shota keeps showing great fire and resilience, he must be slated to go on an excursion soon. He’s the most elevated Young Lion at the moment, and the fans really do seem to appreciate him.

Suzuki-Gun pick up the win in a rather one sided affair. Makabe had a small flurry, but the usual outside of the ring shenanigans and overpowering the opponents put the match away pretty easily for Suzuki-Gun. With a win over two-thirds of the NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag champions, the MSG could schedule Taguchi Japan vs Suzuki-Gun. However, it seems Lance Archer wants to murder Rocky Romero in a cage…so I’m not sure if that’s foreshadowing.

Well now, we get a few nice wrinkles here. Ibushi and Naito are headed for an Intercontinental Championship match, and there’s a lot of good tension there. Ishii didn’t really want to participate with Taguchi’s bullshit, but once EVIL hit him on the apron there was a fire started in Ishii, aimed directly at EVIL’s head. Ren Narita even got some good offense in for a Young Lion against Shingo. However, after a big pile up in the ring, Shingo ducks under a lariat from Ren Narita and lands Pumping Bomber with authority. Good match, and a lot of tension to build towards matches.

Zack and Tanahashi have heat from the fact Tanahashi beat him in the New Japan Cup. Taichi apparently wants a shot at Ospreay for the NEVER, but Ospreay told him Jeff Cobb comes first, then we’ll see. So after a solid match and Taichi spinning the ref around, he connects with a low blow on Ospreay and then applies the Gedo Clutch for the pinfall victory. So Taichi should be in line for a future shot.

This was a fine match. Not a lot of weight beyond Goto being perceived as a possible threat for White. YOSHI-HASHI continued to show some of the aggression he found in the New Japan Cup, Mikey Nicholls looked…like he’s still getting used to Chaos/New Japan. Early tandem moves looked awkward like he was a step behind or in the wrong spot. It’ll get better with time of course, but he was noticeably out of place. Goto had a nice false hope moment went YOSHI bailed him out with an Axe Bomber on Jay, Goto hit the Ushigoroshi and went for GTR, but Jay countered it into a Blade Runner for the 1-2-3. So in typical Goto fashion, close, but no cigar.

We got to see a rare side of Juice Robinson with this match. He slid in and immediately starting throwing bombs with Chase. Juice doesn’t often lose his cool, but the matches are usually interesting when he’s not as goofy and aloof. Chase had some great moments where he swept Juice’s legs on the top rope and hung him over the turnbuckles for a nice Running Kneelift. But this turned into one of those heavy interference matches.  Jado was annoying very early on, Red Shoes was distracted or bumped constantly and even Bad Luck Fale came in and hit a Spear on Juice. Malfunction at the junction though when Chase tried to hit Juice with title and missed, hitting Fale (which was just a bad looking spot anyway). So Juice overcame the odds, but the excessive interference made me go from invested, to not caring pretty quickly. Also Mikey Nicholls making the save for Juice is…odd…since Mikey is Chaos and Juice is not. This whole match went from being pretty solid, to benefiting from a good beginning but the end was marred in garbage.

WOW! This was a fantastic match that felt like it told the story of their perception. SANADA was on the receiving end of Okada’s offense for the first about third of the match. SANADA hit a few desperation moves, Dropkicks, Misawa Feint into Cannonball off the apron, even a big Rolling Forearm to stop the Rolling Rainmaker at one point. Hell SANADA even pulled out the Tiger Suplex, so there was a lot of Misawa nods from SANADA’s offense, and I’m not sure if there’s a deeper story. SANADA and Okada took turns trying one another’s moves, but never successfully pulling off either. The crowd was solidly behind SANADA for most of the match, and it seemed to play well for Okada to pull out a few more arrogant moves, like a Draping DDT from the barrier. This was great, and SANADA wasn’t as desperate to throw Moonsaults at Okada, but he still wasn’t able to land one. SANADA did attempt a Shiranui (most likely to get in position for Skull End), but Okada stopped it, hit a Jumping Tombstone, and Okada lands the Rolling Rainmaker and classic Rainmaker to win the Cup! What I meant by a story of their perception, is that Okada was easily on top early in the match, and then SANADA proved himself over and over to be more of an equal than many probably assumed.

 

Overall Score: 7.25/10

The New Japan Cup Final match was tremendous, and there were a few wrinkles in other matches that seem to be leading to something, but overall the show was as to be expected. Decent undercard, great main event, but the US Title match was painfully underwhelming. Now in the last few years, the runner up does tend to get title shots if the winner is unsuccessful (which they are more often than not, I believe Cup winners are only 4-13 in title matches). So this tournament could’ve easily solidified SANADA as an up and coming main eventer.

Also, since a little bit of prediction never hurt anyone, I’m think Jay White retains at MSG. Coming off of a 2 year reign Jay White is the only new challenge to appear, and Okada has a tendency to have long programs overcoming Bullet Club leaders when they get the best of him early (look at the AJ Styles feud). Jay could hold it for a while, if G.o.D. win the Title vs Title match, that could play well into them helping Jay White win. That way Okada and Tanahashi could challenge G.o.D. for both belts, which keeps them both heavily involved in the Bullet Club angle, but removes them from the IWGP Heavyweight championship.

So even though the Finals were fantastic, and Okada is still the best wrestler in the business currently, Jay White should win at MSG.

 

 

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 5 A Block

KENTA, Lance Archer and Kazuchika Okada are setting the early A Block pace! Something’s gotta give. Who comes out undefeated?

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KENTA, Lance Archer and Kazuchika Okada are setting the early A Block pace! Something’s gotta give. Who comes out undefeated?

Shmoxley in the opening tag team match means we should start off fun. Tanahashi and Sabre are in the battle of, well, someone needs to get at least a point out of that.

Then we’ve got Ospreay and Ibushi who are banged up but most likely still going to be psychopaths in the ring. Let’s get ready for the carnage, I mean, no…I meant carnage.

Ratings:

  • Shota Umino & Jon Moxley vs Tomohiro Ishii & Yuya Uemura: Shooter wins via Fisherman Suplex Hold @5:45 – ***
  • Hirooki Goto, Jeff Cobb & YOSHI-HASHI vs Toa Henare, Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson: YOSHI wins via Butterfly Lock @9:30 – ** 1/4
  • Tomoaki Honma, Ren Narita & Toru Yano vs Jay White, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi: Owens wins via Package Piledriver @8:50 – ** 1/2
  • BUSHI, Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi vs Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru: Suzuki wins via Gotch Style Piledriver @8:35 – ** 1/2
  • A Block: KENTA vs Lance Archer: Kenta wins via Game Over @12:00 – *** 
  • A Block: SANADA vs EVIL: EVIL wins via Everything is Evil @18:10 – **** 1/4
  • A Block: Bad Luck Fale vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Double Legged Cradle @10:15 – ** 1/2
  • A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Triangle Counter Pin @13:55 – *** 3/4
  • A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye Knee @27:15 – **** 3/4

 

Analysis:

Moxley and Ishii start off trying to kill one another. This is a great opener and the respective Young Lions have to pull their veteran off as to not incur a disqualification. The Young Lions then take the bulk of the match and Shota has definitely picked up a few mannerisms from Moxley that we slowly see him unlocking. This may be our evolution of Shooter, but for an opening match this was very fun and the fact Moxley and Ishii just want to fight added for a neat dynamic.

Juice and Cobb are both respectful Gaijin faces, so not a lot of heat for this match. Plus YOSHI-HASHI was in it, so I could’ve downed a few Valium and been more invested in staring at a wall. Pork Chop Sandwiches later, and YOSHI-HASHI wins with that awful Butterfly Lock. Great…I can now taste colors.

So Yano wanted to get him a piece of the Jay White on the down turn, but Jay tried to still play the calculating heel. Honma put in a bit of decent work but Narita was obviously the one sent out to eat the pin. Narita held his own against Yujiro and Chase, but Chase eventually stopped playing with his feud and hit the Package Piledriver to tie things up in a nice little bow.

Shingo took a hell of a beating in this match. Kanemaru played random interference and Taichi took Shingo to the woodshed. Naito also continued his distaste of Taichi and Suzuki while being a little protective of Shingo at points. Now being the unabashed fanboy of Shingo, yet also a subscriber to Holy Emperor weekly, I’m very torn about this whole thing. The match played up the G1 tensions and the LIJ vs Suzuki-Gun tensions very well, but my heart knows not which to root for.

Lance is a good foot taller than KENTA and that was the story of the first 75% of this match. Lance was shrugging off the strikes of our returning striker. KENTA was getting effectively crushed, until Lance pushed the anime comeback button and said “You’re fucking Hideo! That’s who you are! HIDEO!” – which prompted the anime comeback in KENTA. KENTA managed to even lift Lance for a few things, but relied heavily on the dropkicks and strikes. He couldn’t quite pull off the Go 2 Sleep, so he went to his Crossface submission, Game Over. And boy howdy, it was game over! (I will see myself out after that)

EVIL and SANADA have this brotherly rivalry in LIJ. Being former 2 time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champions, familiarity is obvious. SANADA starts off the match quickly and this is definitely a match of quick bursts when the one gets an advantage. I guess they are transitioning SANADA away from the Paradise Lock since this is the second match where he had it mostly on, but “something happened” and the opponent gets out of the move. We get a bunch of great back and forth, but something that continues to plague SANADA is his limited moveset when it gets down to crunch time. EVIL pulled out a plethora of tricks, including using the referee as an anchor for the Magic Killer. Whereas, SANADA sticks to Dragon Sleeper variants, into Skull End attempt or a Moonsault. With how over SANADA is, I really expect him to start getting more crunch time maneuvers. EVIL wins and quickly wants to bury the hatchet by extending the LIJ fist bump. SANADA bumps fists, and all is fine in our ungovernable world.

Fale tends to have Okada’s number in tournaments, and he starts off by attacking him in the back and dragging him out. So we get a typical Bullet Club brawl with heel tactics and ref bumps, but Okada perseveres. Okada is able to lift Fale a few times, but can’t hit the Rainmaker, and wins via the wrestling move he tends to fall back on, the Double Legged Cradle.

Well both Tanahashi and Sabre come into this match 0-2, so there’s a level of desperation that both bring to the table. Sabre wrestled circles around Tanahashi, and Tanahashi just tried to keep up for most of the match. After countering the High Fly Flow, Sabre locks in a Triangle Arm Bar, but Tanahashi floats over for the bridging pin counter. The Ace finally has 2 points!

There have been well known injuries for both of these men, and they played into the story of the match well. Focusing on each other’s injuries, calling back to their Wrestle Kingdom match and just a generally high energy and high impact match. Watching this match, you have to assume one of them will die with their style, but it is damn entertaining. Everyone expected this to be a great match and it delivered.

Overall Score: 8/10

Well we had a lot of good storylines and matches that mostly paid off. Lance Archer has been doing great work, Fale and Okada was at least somewhat entertaining and the cripple fight in the main event was fantastic. The inner faction turmoil was now squashed, so we can have a nice tournament while The Ace gets a few points over the petulant British child.

So great show, great entertainment, and generally a good time. I can only hope the B Block carries equal weight.

Block A Standings:

  • Kazuchika Okada: 3-0 (6 Points)
  • KENTA: 3-0 (6 Points)
  • Lance Archer: 2-1 (4 Points)
  • EVIL: 2-1 (4 Points)
  • SANADA: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Will Ospreay: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Bad Luck Fale: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Kota Ibushi: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Zack Sabre Jr: 0-3 (0 Points)


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s NJPW Dominion 2019 Ratings & Analysis

NJPW’s second biggest show of the year! A few former WWE names and five championship matches should bring some excitement! Let’s see how the show played out.

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NJPW’s second biggest show of the year! A few former WWE names and five championship matches should bring some excitement! Let’s see how the show played out.

People that follow New Japan know this is one of the bigger shows of the year. We also know that the build hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.

A few rematches, the big question of what kind of match Jericho will put on and mixed reactions to the two earliest matches on the card really set an odd tone.

Will the show overcome a lackluster buzz?

Ratings:

  • Jon Moxley vs Shota Umino: Moxley wins via Double Arm DDT @4:10 – * 1/2
  • Shingo Takagi vs Satoshi Kojima: Takagi wins via Last of the Dragon @11:15 – ***
  • YOSHI-HASHI & Jyushin Thunder Liger vs Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr: YOSHI wins via Roll-Up @9:50 – ** 1/2
  • Chase Owens, Jay White & Taiji Ishimori vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi: Tanahashi wins via Dragon Swing @10:00 – ** 1/2
  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi (c): Ishii wins via Vertical Drop Brainbuster @16:15 – ****TITLE CHANGE!!
  • IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs EVIL & SANADA: G.o.D. retain via Roll-Up with Tights @16:45 – *** 1/2
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay vs Dragon Lee (c): Ospreay wins via Stormbreaker @20:05 – **** 1/4TITLE CHANGE!!!
  • IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Tetsuya Naito: Naito wins via Destino @22:10 – **** 1/2 – TITLE CHANGE!!!
  • IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho vs Kazuchika Okada (c): Okada retains via Double Leg Cradle @23:50 – *** 3/4

 

 

Analysis:

Shota had a quick flurry, starting off before the bell. But Moxley was just too much, Shota got in an occasional shot, but this match was just to make Mox look really good. He then declares his desire to be in the G1. Then to continue his bouncing between good/bad guy, he helps the decimated Shota Umino back to the locker room.

This was a good measuring stick for Shingo. He attacked Kojima the same way he would go after a Junior, and Kojima stood his ground on numerous occasions. Kojima even rocked Shingo to the point of being a bit rubber legged. Our favorite Dragon overcame the leader of Bread Club though after a Last Falconry and then a Last of the Dragon. Very solid match and now Shingo announces he wants in the G1.

The most intriguing part about this match is the Liger and Suzuki feud that’s been bubbling up over the last few months. YOSHI-HASHI has gotten the best of Sabre before and has a challenge to for Undisputed British Championship. YOSHI was getting handled for most of this match; so much so, that Liger came in and kicked YOSHI as a way to try and motivate him to stop sucking. YOSHI really didn’t have much offense and it was just hard to care about him being involved, plus the Roll-Up he won with just looked like a messy La Magistral. So not really anything to care about, but a decent enough match for what it was.

Well this 6 man was odd. Tanahashi really looks to be struggling in the ring, and it’s causing the matches just to look bad. Could this be part of his storytelling? Sure, it could. But between Juice coming off a bad loss, Taguchi missing nearly every hip attack and Tanahashi looking embarrassingly mortal, the match was honestly a little sad. Not a bad match, the story being told is interesting leading into G1, but even Tanahashi pulling out a Dragon Swing, which I haven’t seen in a while, still just looked messy and weak. But the good guys got the win, even though they did not look good during the match.

Ahh the Holy Emperor’s entrance and singing voice are always a highlight of the show. Taichi really does tend to fight Ishii well. Ishii throws away Taichi’s weapons, and challenges him as a man. This was a great hard hitting match. The chops of Ishii versus the kicks of Taichi. All in all, this was just one of those great strong style NEVER matches that we grew to love and expect when Ishii and Makabe were trading the belt back and forth.

In what felt like a place holder match for the tag titles, we got a solid match that wasn’t overly surprising. All four put in good work, Jado gets involved, but BUSHI makes the save for the LIJ team. The momentum seems to be with SANADA and EVIL, they go for Magic Killer, but Tama kicks SANADA away and rolls up EVIL with some leverage. Not bad, not amazing.

Katsuyori Shibata’s music hits and he walks out, with a friend. Slowly following Shibata out is KENTA (Hideo Itami), who declares his intent for the G1 Tournament.

Well this match was more of a typical Junior style match. Numerous huge excessive moves, flipping out of maneuvers, not a ton of selling. It was fun, there was high work rate, but not much anything else. People will love this match, some may hate it, but it was entertaining for the style of match it was. Ospreay challenged Robbie Eagles to be the first one to step up during the Southern Showdown tour in Australia.

This started off as a normal hard hitting affair between the two. Business didn’t pick up until a dangerous Release German Suplex from the apron, where Ibushi’s head clipped the apron on the way to the floor. These matches are beautifully reckless, frenetic and just something to watch. They definitely need space away from each other as to reignite interest in future matches, but this was great. Naito gets the best of the current rivalry, Naito reclaims the belt that speaks to him, yet he tends to shun all at the time. Moving into the G1, we’ll see what lies in store for both men for the rest of the year.

Given that this was a normal match with no gimmick, there were a lot of questions to how things would go. Jericho did his classic spots in Japan of taking a camera to flip off the crowd, a DDT on the table, and some good heel tactics. As for the match, it was surprisingly good. Jericho countered Okada a few times with a Codebreaker, hell they even tried to do each other’s moves and Okada hit a Codebreaker. A solid match, it just never felt like it got out of first gear. Okada went for his neckbreaker,Jericho tried to get a roll-up but Okada sat down into a Double Leg Cradle for the pinfall. Jericho beats the hell out of Okada afterwards with a chair and lands his Judas Effect elbow before spilling outside. Jericho is about to put Okada through a table, but Tanahashi jumps the barricade from commentary and makes the save.

Not sure if this is hinting to more Jericho in Japan, just keeping the door open like when he attacked Naito, or maybe even hinting towards an AEW partnership. Either way, it was a very WWE end to the show, even with Jericho punctuating his promo by saying “Happy Championship, Bitch”.

 

Overall Score: 8/10

Damn good show even if the build up seemed a little muted between a great BOSJ and seemingly easy way out booking with rematches. KENTA’s appearance was a fun surprise that doesn’t indicate anything serious, but it will be a good way to get him into a large spotlight to see how he reacts to being freed from WWE.

Also to clarify, I say KENTA declaring for the G1 isn’t necessarily serious because it’s not unprecedented to have Free Agents or outside wrestlers join the tournament. This could be just the beginning, maybe it’s kind of a try out to test his durability, who knows. Either way, good show that ended in a sports entertainment way instead of an expected New Japan way.

The G1 will do a lot in setting up the title matches moving throughout 2019.

 

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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