Monday, August 31, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling - Power Struggle 2014 Review

Shinsuke Nakamura defends the IWGP Intercontinental Title against Katsuyori Shibata!

NJPW Power Struggle 2014
Osaka, Japan 11/8/14


1.) BUSHI & Mascara Dorada vs. Fuego & Tiger Mask: ***

Nothing really much to this one, in terms of back story. Just a match that’s happening. This was actually pretty solid for a pre-show match. It was a lot of fun, with Dorada & Fuego being the highlights of the match. The team of Mascara Dorada & BUSHI would get the win.

Main Show

1.) Three-Way Tag Team Match - The Young Bucks vs. The Forever Hooligans vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Taka Michinoku): ***1/4

The show officially kicks off with a battle of Junior Heavyweight Tag Teams. These teams had taken part in the Super Junior Tag Team Tournament (which took place in the run-up to this show), but were all unsuccessful. I thought this was a pretty good opener. It wasn’t that long (I think it was just under eight minutes), but they packed a lot of action during that time. Exactly the kind of match you would want as the opener. The Young Bucks would end up getting the win.

2.) Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka): *¼

I’ve lost track of how many times these two teams have faced off (I feel like it’s the 3rd time though I could be off). This was easily the worst match these two teams have had, though it didn’t actually go very long (it went under five minutes). The less I have to talk about this match, the better. Yano & Sakuraba would score the win.

After the match, Suzuki cuts a promo challenging Sakuraba to a UWF Rules Match at the Tokyo Dome Show on January 4th. From what I’ve been able to gather, it’s basically a match that can only end via Submission or Knockout.

3.) NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title - Chase Owens (with Bruce Tharpe) vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger: **3/4

If you recall, Chase Owens & Bruce Tharpe challenged Jushin “Thunder” Liger a month prior at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014, and here is the subsequent match. It was pretty solid, though not quite as good as the opener. The action was good, though there seemed to be something missing. It’s so weird seeing Chase Owens using the Package Piledriver, a move made so famous by Kevin Steen over the years. He tried to hit it on a number of occasions, but he wasn’t able to. In the end, Liger was able to overcome both Owens & Bruch Tharpe to capture the NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title!

4.) Eight Man Tag - The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Tetsuya Naito, & Captain New Japan: ***¼

Back at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014, The Bullet Club were defeated in an Eight Man Tag. They’re in another one on this show, except in this match, Captain New Japan is taking the spot of Kota Ibushi on the opposing team. This was a pretty solid Eight Man Tag. Of course, it broke out into a big brawl, and everyone got to have their moment. Eventually, through all of the carnage, Bad Luck Fale is able to pin Captain New Japan after connecting with the Bad Luck Fall.

5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Time Splitters vs. ROH World Tag Team Champions reDRagon: ****¼

reDRagon lost in their New Japan debut against Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA back at the G1 Climax 24 Finals at the Seibu Dome. O’Reilly & Fish were able to earn another title shot by winning the Super Junior Tag Team Tournament leading up to this show. These two teams had a fantastic title match! reDRagon looked great, as did The Time Splitters, and we saw some amazing back & forth action. The last few minutes of the match were especially great. In the end, O’Reilly & Fish were able to hit Chasing The Dragon for the victory, capturing the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles!! reDRagon are now double title holders. Once again, this was a freaking great match!

Afterwords, as reDRagn are celebrating, The Young Bucks & The Forever Hooligans come out, and we get a four-way staredown, seemingly setting something up for The Tokyo Dome Show on January 4th (we’re getting a lot of that tonight).

6.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Taichi: **3/4

Taguchi successfully retained his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title against El Desperado back at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014, but here he’s defending against another Suzuki-gun member in the form of Taichi. We got all sorts of shenanigans right from the start. El Desperado & Taka Michinoku interfered, and at one point, Taichi put Taguchi through a table with a Cradle Piledriver! I didn’t see that coming. Despite this, Taguchi was somehow able to come back and defeat Taichi to retain his title! There were a few good things in here, but the interference really brought this down. Plus, the fact that Taguchi even got back in the ring after that table spot was wonky.

After the match, The Bullet Club comes out, and introduces their newest member: Kenny Omega, now known as “The Cleaner”. Omega talks about how he wanted to be part of New Japan (Omega had recently signed a deal with New Japan), but he had lied! He’s here for money & the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title. Taguchi retorts by saying that he doesn’t understand English, but he accepts Omega’s challenge!

7.) “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles (with Jeff Jarrett) vs. Yoshitatsu: ***1/4

Yoshitatsu made his return to New Japan back at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014, thwarting the interference of Jeff Jarrett in the AJ Styles/Hiroshi Tanahashi IWGP Heavyweight Title Match. This was a good match, but I also feel like it could have been better. It seemed like Yoshitatsu was still in that transition period of getting away from the WWE style, and that played a part in how the match turned out. Styles would get the win, but in the process, Yoshitatsu landed right on his head while taking the Styles Clash. It would later be revealed that he suffered a serious neck injury, and is still out of action, as of this review.

After the match, Jarrett goes to attack Yoshitatsu with a guitar, but several babyfaces come out for the save. This leads to Tetsuya Naito having a staredown with AJ Styles.

8.) NEVER Openweight Title - Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto: ****3/4

Ishii regained the NEVER Openweight Title from Yujiro Takahashi back at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014. Here, he’s defending his title against Hirooki Goto. This match was amazing!! These two men just beat the crap out of each other from 18 minutes. Sheer brutality in this one. It’s one of those matches that just has to be seen. In the end, Ishii would finally put away Goto to retain his NEVER Openweight Title.

Afterwords, Togi Makabe comes out, and has a staredown with Ishii, seemingly setting up a title match at The Tokyo Dome Show on January 4th.

9.) IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi vs. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi): ***¾

With Tanahashi’s IWGP Heavyweight Title victory over AJ Styles at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014, the Main Event for the annual January 4th card in The Tokyo Dome had been set, as Tanahashi would defend his title against the G1 Climax Winner, Okada. Here, we get a preview of that match, as Tanahashi teams up with Kota Ibushi to take on Okada & Yoshi-Hashi. This was actually really good. I think it was much better than people were expecting. That’s not to say these guys can’t deliver a great match, because they absolutely can, but it seemed like it was positioned to be a lesser match, sandwiched between two matches that were bound to be great. Despite that, these four guys were able to step in up when others might not have been able to. Ibushi would get the win for his team after hitting the Phoenix Splash on Yoshi-Hashi.

After the match, Tanahashi & Okada had a staredown, building up their encounter at The Tokyo Dome Show on January 4th.

10.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata: ****

So Shibata defeated Nakamura during the G1 Climax, and then he & Hirooki Goto defeated Nakamura & Yoshi-Hashi in a tag team match back at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014, setting up this match. I thought this was a great match. It seemed like some people were down on it, but I thought it was on-par with their match from the G1 (though if I had to pick, I’d give a slight edge to that match). Great action from these two throughout the match, as you would expect. Again, I thought it was really good, though there was no way it was following the NEVER Openweight Title Match. Eventually, Nakamura would score the victory over Shibata to retain his IWGP Intercontinental Title.

After the match, as Nakamura is celebrating, Kota Ibushi comes out of nowhere and hits a German Suplex! This pretty much sets up Nakamura vs. Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Title at The Tokyo Dome to close the show.

Overall: 8.5/10

Another great show from New Japan? What a shocker! In all seriousness, this was, for the most part, a really good card. It had some rough points, such as the Suzuki/Yano tag team match and the Taguchi/Taichi match for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title. Despite that, there were some really fantastic high points. Ishii vs. Goto for the NEVER Openweight Title was incredible. You also had an exciting match for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles between The Time Splitters & reDRagon, a very good tag match to set up Tanahashi vs. Okada, and a great IWGP Intercontinental Title Match in the Main Event. This show also set up a lot of stuff for The Tokyo Dome Show on January 4th, which is nice to see.

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