Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - Invasion Attack 2015 Review

AJ Styles defends the IWGP Heavyweight Title against Kota Ibushi in the Main Event!!

NJPW Invasion Attack 2015
Tokyo, Japan 4/5/15

1.) Ten-Man Tag - Yuji Nagata, The Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA), Captain New Japan, & Yohei Komatsu vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Sho Tanaka: **¾

The show kicks off with the usual multi-man tag team match with guys who had nothing else of significance going on. It was a pretty solid opener. Everyone had their moment, and it was fine for what it was. Shelley picked up the win here for his team, which will play into something that happens later in the show.

2.) Six-Man Tag - Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, & Tomoaki Honma vs. The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, & Cody Hall): **3/4

So Tenzan, Kojima, & Honma teamed up back at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in a match against the “Bullet Club B-Team”, and they’re facing them once again on this show, except we have Tama Tonga & Cody Hall taking the place off Bad Luck Fale & Jeff Jarrett. A solid Six-Man Tag Team Match. I really enjoy this Tenzan/Kojima/Honma trio, and Cody Hall specifically looked decent in here as well. Tonga was good, and Yujiro was....well....Yujiro.

3.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice: ****

Now we have our first title match of the night. When Alex Kozlov left New Japan earlier in the year, Rocky Romero needed to find a new tag team partner, and he found one in Trent Beretta, who has appeared with New Japan before in the past. These two actually made their debut as a team on a couple of ROH shows a few weeks prior, but this is their first appearance as a team on a major New Japan event. I thought this was a great match! The Young Bucks are always awesome, and Romero & Beretta work really well together. They haven’t been together that long, but they’re already more enjoyable as a team than The Forever Hooligans. In the end, Roppongi Vice would unseat The Young Bucks to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles!! Once again, a great match!

4.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Kenny Omega vs. Mascara Dorada: ****

Omega has been holding the title since Wrestle Kingdom 9, when he beat Ryusuke Taguchi. I’m relieved that Omega has finally moved on from that Taguchi feud. He’s defending the title against Mascara Dorada, who’s from CMLL. Once again, we have another great junior’s match on this show. Omega wasn’t goofing off as much with his “Cleaner” persona, and was more serious, which was a nice change. Dorada looked awesome in this match. I’ve seen him a lot in multi-man tags, but this was my first time seeing him in a major singles environment, and boy, did he deliver! Really good stuff from both guys. Eventually, Omega would hit the One-Winged Angel to retain his title.

After the match, Omega cut a promo about how he’s cleaned out the “Japanese & Mexican Garbage”, and then called out Alex Shelley, who came out and have a staredown with Omega. I love how New Japan actually does give some purpose to those multi-man tags, as whoever gets the fall (in this case, Shelley) ends up getting a title shot of some kind.

5.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett with Maria Kanellis): **

This is the third straight Bullet Club Title Match on this show, and it’s actually the fourth straight Bullet Club match on this card in general. Bennett & Taven made their debut as a team in New Japan in the 2014 World Tag League, and they actually earned this title shot by getting a pinfall victory on Anderson at ROH’s 13th Anniversary Show. The scuttlebutt/rumors are that New Japan really likes Bennett, and they LOVE Maria Kanellis (and the fact that the camera guys keep zooming in on her ass should make that pretty obvious). As for this match, the story was that Anderson was mesmerized by Maria (which doesn’t make much sense since Anderson always touts that he has a “Hot Asian Wife”). Besides, this kind of thing is ok if it involves people like Captain New Japan, or Liger, but with Anderson? Not really. This distraction leads to Bennett & Taven getting the win and the titles. Probably the worst match on the show. It just didn’t work. The less I talk about it, the better.

6.) Six-Man Tag - CHAOS (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, NEVER Openweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii, & Yoshi-Hashi) vs. Hirooki Goto, Tetsuya Naito, & Togi Makabe: ***1/2

So we’ve got no IWGP Intercontinental Title Match on this show. Going into this, it was pretty obvious that they would be setting up a title shot of some kind, as the CHAOS team has two champions, and the opposing side has three guys who are relatively big singles names, so it was going to be interesting to see who won here. As for the match itself, it was pretty good. Everyone got a chance to shine, and the action was very solid. In the end, Nakamura would get pinned by Goto, which immediately sets up a future title match between the two. Ishii & Makabe also got into a brawl after the match, which sets up a rematch for the NEVER Openweight Title. It’s simple booking, and I love it!

7.) Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba: ***

Yano shocked the world in the 2015 New Japan Cup when he eliminated Tanahashi in the first round. Here, Tanahashi & Yano are in a tag team match against each other with Shibata & Sakuraba as their partners, respectively. It was a fine tag team match. It did a solid job continuing the Tanahashi/Yano feud (which by all accounts, is being done to give Tanahashi some rest before the G1 Climax), and the interactions between Shibata & Sakuraba were pretty entertaining. The ending was actually pretty surprising, as Sakuraba made Shibata tap out (which is a very rare sight, indeed).

8.) Kazuchika Okada (with Gedo) vs. Bad Luck Fale: ****

This feud has been going on since New Year’s Dash 2015, when Fale pinned Okada (who was coming off his heartbreaking loss to Tanahashi) in a tag team match. Fale then eliminated Okada in the first round of the 2015 New Japan Cup. Some may feel differently, but honestly, I really liked this match. Even though Fale’s gained some weight (and in turn, hurt is mobility), it’s made into more of a monster, which is role he’s getting better at. Whenever Fale is in the ring with a great wrestler (like his series with Nakamura in 2014), he can be carried to a great match, and that was the case here with Okada. In the end, Okada would definitely put Fale away with The Rainmaker for the win, and thus, getting himself back on the winning track.

9.) IWGP Heavyweight Title - AJ Styles vs. Kota Ibushi: ****1/2

Ibushi earned this title shot after winning the 2015 New Japan Cup. It’s amazing to think that AJ Styles & Kota Ibushi are in the Main Event of a major New Japan PPV in Sumo Hall (It was apparently the first sellout in Sumo Hall in awhile for a non-G1 Climax show). To put it simply, this match was fantastic!! It was easily the best match of the night. Styles & Ibushi are two of the best wrestlers in the world, and they proved it big time in this match. The action in here was awesome, and both guys were just great. Towards the end of the match, Ibushi was going for the Phoenix Splash, but Kenny Omega ran out! It looked like Omega was going to do something, but he didn’t (for those who don’t know, Ibushi & Omega have a long history, as they were tag team partners in DDT). He backed down, and Ibushi went for the Phoenix Splash, but he was CAUGHT by Styles, who hit the Styles Clash for the win!!! That finish was incredible. It has to be one of the best match finishes of 2015! Amazing stuff throughout this match.

After the match, Styles was celebrated with the rest of The Bullet Club, but Kenny Omega wasn’t very jovial. He looked distraught, and conflicted over what had just happened, given his relationship with Ibushi. Then, Okada ran out and just tore through The Bullet Club, eventually hitting Styles with The Rainmaker. As the show closes, Okada made it clear that he was back and coming for the IWGP Heavyweight Title.

Overall: 8.5/10

I thought this show was, for the most part, pretty great!! The Main Event was incredible, and Okada vs. Fale was much better than I expected. The two Jr. Title Matches were also great. The rest of the card (mainly talking about the various multi-man tags) was relatively solid. The only match that was really a stinker was the Anderson & Gallows vs. Bennett & Taven IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match. Other than that, this show was really great from start to finish.

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