Seems like every Japanese promotion show is just a ‘building up to’ show the last few days. This time we get New Japan, leading up to Sengoku Lord!
The bigger storylines to pay attention to are Hiromu/EVIL, Shingo/El Desperado and exactly how Yujiro Takahashi plans to drag down Okada to his level. Of these three, the Yujiro/Okada angle seems like it will be the most intriguing or generally awful angle.
Here’s to hoping everything falls into place enjoyably!
- TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji: Kojima wins via Gowan Lariat @10:25 – ** ½
- CHAOS (SHO, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii) vs GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma), Gabriel Kidd & Ryusuke Taguchi: Yano wins via Low Blow Roll Up @12:00 – **
- Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI & El Desperado) vs LIJ (SANADA & Shingo Takagi): SANADA wins via Skull End @12:40 – *** ¼
- Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada): Goto wins via GTR @11:45 – **
- Master Wato, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Yuji Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, ZSJ & Yoshinobu Kanemaru: Kanemaru wins via Touch Out @12:05 – ***
- LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs Darkness Club (EVIL, Dick Togo & Taiji Ishimori): EVIL wins via Everything is Evil @14:00 – *** ¼
TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji
Since we know the point of Young Lion matches, this one was more to focus on Uemura’s growth. Uemura took the better portion of the offense from both Kojima and Tenzan, so when he hit the hot tag for Tsuji, the senior Young Lion looked pretty good. Tsuji rocked Tenzan a few times before trying to get Uemura back in the match, but it was too much for Uemura.
There was a chance for the upset when Uemura had Kojima in a Boston Crab and Tsuji intercepted Tenzan with a Spear, but it was a short lived moment. Kojima fought back, absorbed a few more shots before ending the match with an emphatic Gowan Lariat.
CHAOS (SHO, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii) vs GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma), Gabriel Kidd & Ryusuke Taguchi
Well Young Lion logic almost didn’t matter since the CHAOS side has YOSHI-HASHI, so that’s basically a push. YOSHI-HASHI hatred aside, this match was clunky. They tried a comedy spot where during the Taguchi Coach Corner Attacks, he turned to face the crowd and act like his team was on auto-pilot. This was of course thwarted and the CHAOS team was beating down on poor Honma. It was stupid because Kidd was thrown out of the ring towards where Taguchi was facing, so it went on too long and Kidd had to get Taguchi’s attention, then Taguchi turns, grins and just shrugs before getting dog piled.
I mean, for people who care, it’s positive that YOSHI-HASHI’s knee injury wasn’t that bad (for you, that one girl from the fan meet a few years ago who’s favorite wrestle is HASHI). But yeah, clunky match, but you get a little from everyone and the Young Lion eats the pin after Yano hits a low blow and then rolls him up.
Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI & El Desperado) vs LIJ (SANADA & Shingo Takagi)
Now this match set things up nicely for Sengoku Lord. Shingo and SANADA started the onslaught, but it seemed to play into Despy’s hands. He had Shingo on the outside, and worked over the left knee with a chair for a good bit of the match. Shingo sold the knee wonderfully even using a chair as a crutch to limp back to the ring to get in the corner for SANADA.
Despy continued to focus the knee with Numero Dos and other Stretch Muffler variants. We also saw Shingo favoring the right arm a little as existing damage from his match with SHO. So the whole lead up to the NEVER Openweight match will be Shingo being banged up. This is fantastic since Despy is significantly smaller and we already saw Shingo dominate most Junior Heavyweights during his run last year. This brings things to parody quite nicely.
Even though SANADA taps out DOUKI, Desperado gets the last laugh by sneaking Shingo while he was posing after the victory, and stole the NEVER championship again.
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada)
Where the last match did a great job at leading toward the bigger match this match…did nothing. Early on it seemed like Yujiro and Gedo were trying to frustrate Okada by keeping Goto cut off. But that eventually falls apart, both Gedo and Yujiro show a lot of fear and weakness to both members of Chaos, so this was weird.
The small interaction with Yujiro re-entering the ring alone to shove and stare down Okada was different, but Okada didn’t flinch. So I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish here, unless the whole point was to make everyone, including Yujiro and Okada, that Yujiro has no chance.
Either way, this is beyond skippable.
Master Wato, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Yuji Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, ZSJ & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Everyone in this match has a reason to be and it’s actually nice to see things make sense. Suzuki still wants more of Nagata after taking the loss during the New Japan Cup, Taichi & ZSJ enjoy tormenting Tanahashi and Kanemaru is making it his job to ruin Wato’s return.
These threads go through the entire match quite strongly. Taichi and ZSJ try to keep picking apart Tanahashi, while Ibushi and Taichi have more of a strike fest. Kanemaru cuts off Wato whenever possible and Suzuki goes after Nagata. We end up with Kanemaru and Wato in for the finishing sequence, and aside from one bad backflip, Wato still looks good in the ring. However, when he goes for RPP, Suzuki cuts him off, weakens him with a Guillotine and Sleeper Hold, for Kanemaru to pick up the pieces. Deep Impact rings true, but Kanemaru wants to send a message, so he pulls out his twisting brainbuster Touch Out, which I haven’t seen him do in quite a while.
After the match, Suzuki and Nagata keep hitting each other, and the rest just let the grandpas fight. Amusingly though, ZSJ and Taichi are goading Tanahashi by saying “ Ibushi can have another shot at the tag belts, but he needs a new partner”. So they’re really running with this picking apart the Ace angle.
LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs Darkness Club (EVIL, Dick Togo & Taiji Ishimori)
We get a very solid drive to this story, but let’s not bury the lead, EVIL is wearing long pants and not Awesome Kong’s skirt anymore! Oh and Hiromu comes out looking distracted, hollow and with his jacket zipped up.
The jacket played a part immediately since Hiromu steps to EVIL, unzips the jacket to reveal a Bullet Club shirt! He points finger guns at Naito and BUSHI, only to sneak EVIL while the charade is playing out. So early on we see Hiromu trying to play mind games. I’m not sure if this got to Naito more than expected, because there was a moment when Naito only had Hiromu to tag in, and he was going nuts begging for the tag but Naito was very slow to do anything. EVIL tried to cut off Naito, but a step up Enzuigiri gave Naito the decision making power to tag in Hiromu.
Is Naito jealous of Hiromu’s chance at Sengoku Lord? Did the fake out alliance shift sting too much for Naito?
These questions persist since the finish cleared up nothing. There was a bit of random rumbles that Bullet Club ended up on the top of. Taiji got a lot of clear openings on each LIJ member, Dick Togo looked like a beast since he may be in his 50s but he still moves extremely well. EVIL gets the win over BUSHI, as is to be expected, but LIJ looked completely out of their depth in the last few minutes.
Hiromu gets in EVIL’s face, the Darkness Club members beat him around a little, EVIL feints to the EVERYTHING…but just let’s Hiromu drop. Mercy or a message…we’ll find out at Sengoku Lord.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
So there was some good story line movement, and also some worthless filler stuff. I hope the Okada stuff is leading to something, because I really hope that Yujiro gets a little bit of a push given the narrative last year when he was skipped on G1 was that he cared a little more. Wato eating his first pinfall loss is interesting since it was gotten out of the way early, so there’s no weird undefeated narrative. Plus it took a bit of a team up to take him out. Tanahashi being pointed out as the weak link isn’t really new, but since Ibushi regards him as a God, I’m curious how Ibushi will react to it.
Now the two biggest draws for me are Shingo and EVIL/Hiromu. Shingo is a tremendous worker, always has been and can work multiple different styles. He has great psychology and I’m glad he gets a larger stage to prove it. The way he’s gotten Desperado over is amazing. Despy seems like a legit threat, because Shingo is visibly injured and needs to overcome his own shortcomings along with a challenger.
EVIL/Hiromu is great because if you remember when Hiromu got hurt, EVIL was the one most upset. He dyed his hair, he brought things with the group. Naito and Hiromu have a sibling dynamic, but from how he reacted, EVIL and Hiromu were legit friends. So this is personal, even if they don’t play on that thread too much, this betrayal hurt Hiromu more than Naito. Just look at his reaction after Dominion if you don’t believe me.
Sengoku Lord should be awesome. I’m really forward to it now.
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