Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling - King of Pro-Wrestling 2014 Review

AJ Styles defends the IWGP Heavyweight Title against Hiroshi Tanahashi!

NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2014
Tokyo, Japan 10/13/14

1.) Eight-Man Tag - The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. Tomoaki Honma, Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata: **3/4

So the shows starts off with the usual multi-man tag team affair, but this time, it's New Japan vs. The Bullet Club. The match was fine. The two teams brawled, and everyone got a chance to shine. In the end, Kota Ibushi would put away Tama Tonga with the Phoenix Splash to score the win for his team.

2.) NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title - Chase Owens (with Bruce Tharpe) vs. Bushi: **3/4

Chase Owens is a name who rang a bell when I heard he was going to be on this show. From what I can remember, he had a match in ROH (where he got destroyed by Michael Elgin), and he actually challenged Davey Richards for the ROH World Title on an NWA show (back when Jim Cornette was in charge). Here, he's defending the NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title (with the always arrogant Bruce Tharpe by his side) against Bushi. Another solid match. I think it was pretty obvious that Bushi wasn't winning, as this was mainly a way to introduce Chase Owens to the New Japan audience. Decent action throughout this one, but it ended with Owens hitting with a Package Piledriver to retain his NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title.

After the match, Bruce Tharpe takes the mic. He says that Bushi wasn't a challenge, and that they want a real challenge. They want the legendary Jushin "Thunder" Liger! This brings out Liger, who is wearing a suit! It's so strange, yet somehow cool, to see Liger in a suit. He first tells Tharpe to shut up. He then says that Chase Owens is strong, but he is very strong. So I guess we're getting a future match between these two.

3.) NWA World Tag Team Titles - Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs. The Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer): ***1/4

To say that this isn't the first time these two teams have faced each other on New Japan PPV's would be an understatement. The NWA World Tag Team Titles are on the line in this latest chapter in their saga of matches. It was pretty solid. Whenever you get these two teams in a match, it will always be at least good. Good back & forth action throughout this one. In the end, it would be The Killer Elite Squad getting the win, and capturing the NWA World Tag Team Titles!

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

This match again? Well, their last match was at least somewhat entertaining. This time around? No so much. Yano gets the win for his team after pinning Iizuka while Sakuraba & Suzuki were brawling on the outside. At least this was a relatively short match.

Afterwords, Sakuraba & Suzuki continue brawling, and need to be separated.

5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - Three-Way Tag Team Match - The Time Splitters vs. The Forever Hooligans vs. The Young Bucks: ****

These three teams had an awesome match for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles back at Global Wars 2014. While this wasn't quite as good as that match, this was still great. It's hard not to have a great match when any of these three teams are involved. Lots of insane action, as you would expect. One of the bigger moments of the match occurred when Alex Kozlov went for a dive to everyone on the outside (a dive off the ropes similar to what ACH does in ROH), but he got his foot caught in the rope! That was really scary. It could have been a lot worse. The match ended with The Time Splitters getting the win, and retaining their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles.

6.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Ryusuke Taguchi vs. El Desperado (with Suzuki-gun): ***

Suzuki-gun's juniors attacked Taguchi after he won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title at Destruction in Kobe. Now one of those three, El Desperado, is getting a title shot. Taichi & Taka Michinoku are out with El Desperado at ringside. This was a pretty solid match. The action in the ring was fine, but as you probably could have guessed, there was a ton of interference from Taichi & Taka Michinoku, which hurt the match, in my opinion. Eventually, Taguchi is able to overcome the interference and gets El Desperado to tap out, retaining the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title.

After the match, Taichi & Taka Michinoku attack Taguchi. Taichi poses with the title, so I guess he's the next challenger.

7.) NEVER Openweight Title - Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii: ****1/4

Takahashi won the NEVER Openweight Title for The Bullet Club shortly before the G1 Climax. I wasn't really sure how this would turn out, because although we know how great Ishii is, Takahashi has been hit-or-miss, from what I've seen of him. On this show, he had a hit, as this was an awesome match! The start of the match was actually a little boring, but when it picked up, it did so pretty quickly, and this soon turned into a great match. Like I said, Takahashi can be hit or miss sometimes, but he & Ishii were able to put on a really exciting match. In the end, Tomohiro Ishii scored the victory, and reclaimed the NEVER Openweight Title.

8.) Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. CHAOS (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura & Yoshi-Hashi): ***1/2

I think it's a little odd to see Nakamura in a tag team match on this show, but it became clear throughout this match that either Goto or Shibata would be challenging Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Title in the near future. This particular match was pretty good. It wasn't great, but it was still solid nonetheless. It's really fun watching Nakamura mix it up with Goto & Shibata. Eventually, Shibata hit the penalty kick on Yoshi-Hashi to secure the win for his team (it's no surprise that Yoshi-Hashi took the fall in this match). 

After the match, Nakamura & Shibata have a stare down, which presumably sets a future match between the two for the IWGP Intercontinental Title.

9.) "Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito: ****1/4

One of the great things about the G1 Climax is that certain match results perfectly set up rematches down the road. This is a perfect example of that. Okada won the G1 Climax, but one of his losses during the tournament was to Naito, so naturally they have a rematch. Okada's Tokyo Dome Title Match is on the line in this one. I thought this was a great match. These two are both great wrestlers, so it's hard for them not to produce something that's good. I don't think it was as good as their match in the G1 Climax, but it was still great. Okada would eventually put Naito away with The Rainmaker,  retaining his future title shot.

10.) IWGP Heavyweight Title - "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles (with Jeff Jarrett) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: ****1/4

For those of you who may have missed it, Jeff Jarrett joined The Bullet Club at the G1 Climax Finals at the Seibu Dome. He's out with his guitar to support AJ Styles. Much like the previous match, this was set up during the G1 Climax, at the aforementioned Finals Show, Tanahashi defeated AJ Styles in the "3rd Place" Match. These two actually have a brief history with each other in TNA, interestingly enough (I think they wrestled each other on a TNA PPV in 2005 or 2006). As for this match, it was pretty great. These are two of the best wrestlers in the world, and you can always count on their to deliver in Main Events like this. Lots of great back & forth action from both guys. Towards the end of the match, the referee got knocked down, and Jeff Jarrett tried to interfere, but Yoshi Tatsu showed up, making his return to New Japan, to make the save. He chased off Jarrett as the match between Styles & Tanahashi continued. Eventually, Tanahashi was able to put away AJ Styles to get win, and his 7th IWGP Heavyweight Title, the most by anyone in the history of New Japan. As I said, this was a great match. Tanahashi winning the title didn't make sense initially, but it would be better understood in due time...

After the match, Okada comes out and has a stare down with Tanahashi, as their title match at the Tokyo Dome is now set. Okada leaves as Tanahashi celebrates by doing his signature air guitar to close the show.

Overall: 8.75/10

Oh look. New Japan put on another fantastic PPV. This should really be no surprise to anybody at this point. At this point, we're getting closer & closer to the Tokyo Dome Show, and that can clearly be seen by the result of the top two matches. As far as this show is concerned, the undercard was business as usual, with some decent things, but nothing particularly great. Once we got to the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match, business started to pick up. We had four matches that were either **** or better, and all of them are worth checking out. The fact that we had six title matches on this show was pretty cool as well. Once again, New Japan has given up another great PPV.

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