The first of three Destruction shows for New Japan! Can Zack Sabre Jr get his British Championship back from the Ace?
So my initial take on the three main Destruction events this year, is, “At least they aren’t doing Hiroshima again this year”.
With only a few Young Lion Cup matches remaining, we get to see if there’s any spoilers. Also we get to see if YOSHI-HASHI gets his first taste of gold…ever. With literally zero accolades in his 11 year career, some people have rallied behind him since the lovable loser is endearing. But in the immortal words of the great Bad Luck Fale, ” Fuck ’em”.
Let’s get to the show, and hope YOSHI-HASHI does what he’s best at…lose.
- Young Lion Cup: Karl Fredericks vs Yota Tsuji: Fredericks wins via Modified Half Crab @7:25 – ***
- Young Lion Cup: Alex Coughlin vs Shota Umino: Shota wina via Fisherman Suplex Hold @8:15 – ** 1/2
- Michael Richards, Clark Connors, Manabu Nakanishi & Toa Henare vs Ren Narita, Yuya Uemura, Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata: Taguchi wins via Ankle Lock @11:20 – * 1/2
- Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI vs Jyushin Thunder Liger, SHO & YOH: SHO wins via 3k @10:35 – ***
- El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, KENTA, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale vs Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles, Kota Ibushi, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @9:15 – ** 1/2
- SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs Rocky Romero, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada: SANADA wins via Skull End @10:40 – ***
- Jay White & Chase Owens vs Tetsuya Naito & EVIL: Naito wins via Destino @11:10 – *** 1/2
- IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI: G.o.D. retain via Roll-Up @21:35 – *** 3/4
- RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr: Sabre wins via Cobra Twist into Cradle @26:45 – **** 1/4 – TITLE CHANGE!!!
Young Lion Cup: Karl Fredericks vs Yota Tsuji – Karl is in a tie for first, while Tsuji is at the point of playing spoiler. We saw a lot of chippy tendencies between the two, but Fredericks just looks miles ahead of Tsuji. Athletically Karl is impressive, plus his selling on his injured arm is great throughout the match. Fredericks hits an Okada level Dropkick to give himself a breather. Big Splash in the corner leads to Karl getting frustrated with his tapped shoulder and just going for the submission finish. Half Boston Crab with the Lion Tamer style pressure gives Fredericks the win in a hard fought match.
Young Lion Cup: Alex Coughlin vs Shota Umino – Another solid match between Young Lions. The difference is, this match wasn’t as fluid as the previous one. I don’t mean by how pretty the moves were, just the time between spots seemed more staggered and like they weren’t always positioned correctly. Still, a decent match for two young wrestlers fighting for the first taste of notoriety in their New Japan careers.
Michael Richards, Clark Connors, Manabu Nakanishi & Toa Henare vs Ren Narita, Yuya Uemura, Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata – Well this was a match. Connors had Navy Blue trunks and commentary decided to make that a point of emphasis, so that’s something. Also even though Uemura has zero points in the Young Lion Cup, Richards looked awful. He looks like Powder in black trunks and he looks about as comfortable in the ring as Antonio Brown looked in Oakland. This was an insanely forgettable match.
Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI vs Jyushin Thunder Liger, SHO & YOH – Now this is a fun undercard tag. Suzuki and Liger have had this boiling feud all year, and this just added more heat with Suzuki beating the hell out of Liger and trying to remove the mask on multiple occasions. SHO, YOH, Kanemaru and DOUKI have residual heat from the Best of Super Juniors. So this was high energy and a few threads to pull at. Roppongi 3k picks up the win on DOUKI, but damn this was fun.
-After extra Suzuki scuffling, Liger grabs a microphone and challenges Suzuki to a singles match right then and there. Suzuki declines, since things are obviously on his time, so Liger says “I guess we all know who’s scared now”. This will be a damn good match when it gets made.
El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, KENTA, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale vs Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles, Kota Ibushi, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe – So this was meant to establish a little more tension for Ospreay/Eagles versus Ishimori/ELP and Ibushi versus KENTA, and it accomplished that. Most of the more interesting spots were with the names building the heat, but it really felt very cookie cutter. Nothing overly great, Fale getting Gino involved from commentary and KENTA pinning Honma was how you expected this to go. Perfectly average.
SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs Rocky Romero, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada – Even though we all know SANADA and Okada have another matchup coming soon, this whole match seemed to be about Goto and Shingo. Every time they could go at it, they did. SANADA did manage to tie up Okada in the Paradise Lock and the Pop Up Cutter looked to lay out Okada pretty effectively. Good match that did enough for everyone involved, and the crowd was quite into this match.
Jay White & Chase Owens vs Tetsuya Naito & EVIL – This match was freaking awesome for all the…non-in-ring reasons. Jay and Naito were just goading and mocking each other the entire match. This was like some school yard stuff where they just try to one up one another, or keep trying to get the other one’s attention when they’re beating up the teammate. I was very honestly laughing the entire time during this match. Jay and Naito’s feud is a beautiful thing that proves New Japan is more than just ring work. Fantastic work here.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI – Now we see the beauty of the Guerrillas as heels in Japan. YOSHI-HASHI is an unimpressive failure of a wrestler, but due to how worthless he is, the fans rally behind him occasionally to try and motivate him. G.o.D. worked this match beyond well, the fans popped hard for HASHI, even though he has the worst Superkick and Running Blockbuster in wrestling. Plus he just falls backwards when Tama went for the Gun Stun. The fans believed, or at least hate Bullet Club/G.o.D. enough to root for the other people. KENTA however, saves us from an awful upset and as a thank you for his NEVER victory. He distracts YOSHI-HASHI just enough for Tama to get the Roll-Up and possibly some tights, to retain the titles. YOSHI-HASHI remains as relevant as the Phoenix Suns.
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr – So…this was a different match for these two. Tanahashi took the belt at Royal Quest doing something he never did, and that was a clean Finisher into pinfall, instead of a cradle variation. This match was a character change for both. Tanahashi worked on hitting multiple submissions and taunting Sabre throughout the match. Sabre got frustrated many times, even attacking Yuya Uemura on the outside.
Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow on Sabre’s back, and instead of turning him over for a second, he captures the arm and pulls him up into a Modified Texas Cloverleaf. Sabre fights through, and then they stand up for an Uppercut exchange. Tanahashi worked the Cobra Twist and Cloverleaf during the match, so when he went back to it, it wasn’t surprising. However, Sabre had a trick, and got out of Tanahashi’s Cobra Twist, with a Twist of his own, that sent Tanahashi to the mat, and Sabre picked up the pinfall. Sabre winning by flash pin/cradle has a little bit of poetic irony since that was how Tanahashi achieved most of his wins.
Overall Score: 7/10
Aside from the eight man after the Young Lion Cup matches, everything was pretty good and actually carried weight. Even though it was headlined with belts that aren’t necessarily important to the usual New Japan fan, the matches were enjoyable and some of the undercard was very nice.
Naito and Jay White is disdain that I want to see continue for years. Hell, even if they joined forces for some reason, they just have great chemistry. KENTA paying off the debt he owed to G.o.D., on top of just ‘conveniently’ screwing over the two people he betrayed on the final day of the G1 is just great storytelling.
Hopefully the rest of the Destruction events match or exceed this one, since by looking at the card…this was probably supposed to be the weak link.