Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling - Destruction in Kobe Review

Shinsuke Nakamura looks to regain the Intercontinental Title!

NJPW Destruction in Kobe
Kobe, Japan 9/21/14

1.) Six-Man Tag - The Bullet Club (NEVER Openweight Champion Yujiro Takahashi & The Young Bucks) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & The Forever Hooligans): ***

I was really excited for this match, just for the fact that we were going to see some interaction between The Young Bucks & Tomohiro Ishii. A pretty entertaining opener. Exactly the kind of match you want to start a show like this. Lots of really solid action from all six guys. In the end, CHAOS would pick up the victory over The Bullet Club.

2.) Six-Man Tag - IWGO Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Alex Shelley, Bushi & Maximo vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi & Taka Michinoku): N/A

So we have an odd assortment of babyface juniors on one side, taking on Suzuki-gun's juniors. The heels attack Shelley & co. in the entranceway. They brawl for a little bit before Suzuki-gun brings in a bunch of chairs and uses them, causing the match to end in a DQ. Very weird match. The crowd didn't seem to react to it that well.

3.) Eight-Man Tag - Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Tomoaki Honma, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan: **3/4

Here we have another one of those New Japan multi-man tag team matches that gets everyone on the show. It was a fine match for what it was. Solid action throughout, and everyone got a chance to showcase themselves. Eventually, Honma was able to win the match for his team with a Kokeshi Headbutt on Captain New Japan!! Good to see Homna get a win. The crowd was really happy with this result.

4.) Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka): **3/4

Oh no, we're getting Yano vs. Suzuki again. To be fair, this match was actually pretty decent. Thankfully the crowd was really active for most of the show, and the interactions between Minoru Suzuki & Kazushi Sakuraba were pretty good. Eventually, Yano's tricks prevail, as he scores the victory for his team.

5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi: ****1/4

KUSHIDA is currently a double champion, holding not only the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title, but also the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles with Alex Shelley. Here, he's defending his title against Ryusuke Taguchi. I wasn't sure how this was going to so, since I don't know much about Taguchi (other than that he was once Prince Devitt's tag team partner), but this was a really great match. A lot of that had to do with both guys really working over a particular body part of their opponent, and that playing a role in how the match concluded. The action in here was also really cool, with a number of nice transitions. After a hard fought, back & forth contest, Taguchi would get KUSHIDA to submit to the ankle lock to score the victory and capture the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title!

After the match, the Suzuki-gun juniors of El Desperado, Taichi & Taka Michinoku attack Taguchi. Alex Shelley tries to make the save, but the number's game is just too much. It looks like El Desperado will be challenging Taguchi for the title at the next major show.

6.) Kota Ibushi & Tetsuya Naito vs. The Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Champion "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles & Tama Tonga): ***1/2

No defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Title in this card, as AJ Styles is in tag team action. This was a pretty good match. It's really hard for a match featuring these guys to be bad. Lots of solid action throughout this one. It was pretty entertaining to watch. Ibushi would eventually hit the Phoenix Splash on Tama Tonga to score the victory for his team.

7.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. CHAOS ("Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi): ***1/2

If I recall correctly, Yoshi-Hashi scored some big wins on some recent house shows, earning him both a NEVER Openweight Title Shot, and a IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title Shot, where he's teaming up with Okada to take on The Bullet Club. This was another really solid tag team match. Good stuff from both teams. It looked like CHAOS had the titles won, but Yujiro Takahashi came out and pulled the referee. This allowed his fellow stablemates in The Bullet Club to take advantage and retain their titles. Again, a pretty good match that also served to build up two matches for the second Destruction iPPV in a few days (Okada vs. Anderson for Okada's Tokyo Dome Title Shot, and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Yoshi-Hashi for the NEVER Openweight Title).

8.) Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto: ****

This should be a slugfest. These two actually have a bit of recent history, as Makabe (if I recall correctly) suffered a jaw injury several months earlier during a tag team match with Makabe & Tanahashi against Goto & Shibata, and that injury was later aggravated during a match with Goto in the G1 Climax. As you would expect, this was an awesome match. These two just beat the crap out of each other, and the added story of Goto going after Makabe's injury really added to the match. Just stiff action between these two. In the end, Makabe would hit the King Kong Knee Drop on Goto to score the victory.

9.) Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: ****1/2

Now this is a match that has a lot of backstory behind it. I won't got into it in detail, but to quickly summarize it, there's a ton of animosity between these two outside of the ring. Naturally, this led into a feud between these two. Shibata recently defeated Tanahashi in the G1 Climax. This was an excellent match! When these two are involved, you shouldn't expect anything less. Great action throughout this one. After a hard fought contest, it takes two High Fly Flows to put away Shibata for the win. While I thought this match was great, I didn't think it was as amazing as some others thought (Dave Meltzer gave it *****). For me, I liked their match during the G1 Climax a little bit better.

After the match, Tanahashi & Shibata shook hands, seemingly burying the hatchet.

10.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Bad Luck Fale vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: ***3/4

Bad Luck Fale captured the IWGP Intercontinental Title back at Dominion, and Nakamura would subsequently defeated Bad Luck Fale during the G1 Climax, setting up this match. This was actually really good. We all know that Bad Luck Fale isn't anywhere close to the best wrestler in the world, but Nakamura always seems to bring the best out of him. Fale's best matches in New Japan have come against Nakamura, with this one being the best yet. Nakamura took a lot of punishment, but he fought back, and eventually was able to put Fale away to win back the IWGP Intercontinental Title! Nakamura cuts a promo and celebrates to close the show.

Overall: 8.75/10

At this point, it should come as no surprise that New Japan put together an awesome night of wrestling. The first few matches were decent to solid (the opener being a nice highlight), but the show really picked up momentum after a surprisingly fantastic IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match. We saw a couple of very solid tag team matches, and two great singles matches with Makabe vs. Goto and Tanahashi vs. Shibata. The show closed with Nakamura recapturing the IWGP Intercontinental Title, and carrying Bad Luck Fale to his best match to date. Nothing much else say about this show other than it was pretty great.

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