Saturday, June 4, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - Wrestling Hinokuni 2015 Review

Tomohiro Ishii defends the NEVER Openweight Title against Togi Makabe!

NJPW Wrestling Hinokuni 2015
Kumamoto, Japan 4/29/15

1.) Six-Man Tag - CHAOS (Gedo & IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi Vice) vs. Jay White, Sho Tanaka, & Yohei Komatsu: ***

This is a very interesting opener, as you have three members of CHAOS taking on three of New Japan’s Young Lions. I thought it was a fine opening match. The Young Lions were great (as always), and the CHAOS trio looking good as well. For me, the fact that Gedo was in here gave this match a little bit of an interest boost for me, because if there is anyone on the NJPW roster that these Young Lions could feasibly beat, it’s Gedo. Alas, CHAOS would get the win here, but this was still a fun opening contest.

2.) The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Captain New Japan: **1/4

I feel a little bad for Kojima. Not only is he talking on arguably the lowest ranking members of The Bullet Club (Yujiro’s stock has really fallen in a lot of people’s eyes), but he’s teaming with resident jobber Captain New Japan. This was ok. Seeing Kojima chop the crap out of Cody Hall was fun, but there really isn’t much else to say about this one. Bullet Club would get the win here, but that was given. If Captain New Japan is on a team, you know that team is losing.

3.) Six-Man Tag - KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Mascara Dorada, Tiger Mask, & Yuji Nagata: **1/4

So here we have two juniors and one heavyweight on each side. The interactions between the juniors were fun. When Nakanishi got in there…..not so much. Similar to the previous match, this was just kind of there. Nothing really much to say about it, to be honest. KUSHIDA got the win for his team after a rollup on Mascara Dorada, who really sold the loss as being important. That was nice to see, especially in a relatively meaningless multi-man tag team match.

4.) NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title - Steve Anthony (with Bruce Tharpe) vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger: ***1/4

Steve Anthony is representing the NWA here, and of course, that means Bruce Tharpe is in his corner. A couple of weeks prior, Anthony actually captured the NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title from Liger on an independent show in Las Vegas, Nevada a few weeks prior. This is Liger’s chance to get the title back. I thought this was a solid title match here. It wasn’t spectacular or anything, but for it’s spot on the card, it was perfectly fine. I think this was my first time seeing Steve Anthony, and I think he did well here. I wouldn’t be against seeing him show up in NJPW again. Anthony would end up scoring the victory here, retaining his NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title against the Japanese Wrestling Legend.

5.) NWA World Heavyweight Title - Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Big Daddy Yum Yum: **1/2

Up next, we have our 2nd NWA Title Match of the evening as the champion, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, defends the NWA World Heavyweight Title against (the notorious) Big Daddy Yum Yum, with Bruce Tharpe by his side. I’ve heard a lot about this fellow know as Big Daddy Yum Yum, mainly for his ridiculous selling of Kojima’s machine gun chops, and this is my first time seeing him. I thought this match was decent. It wasn’t as good as the NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title Match that came before it, but it was a little better than some of the undercard tags on this show. Tenzan was, well, Tenzan, and Big Daddy Yum Yum was…...well…...Big Daddy Yum Yum. A pretty average singles match. It didn’t come close to the really good match Tenzan had with Rob Conway a few months prior. Anyway, Tenzan got the win here, and retained his NWA World Heavyweight Title.

6.) Six-Man Tag - The Bullet Club (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows) vs. Alex Shelley, Tetsuya Naito, & Tomoaki Honma: ***1/4

The two guys who are the main focus of this Six-Man Tag are Kenny Omega & Alex Shelley, as they have a IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match coming up at Wrestling Dontaku a few days later. I must the trio of Shelley, Naito, & Honma is a very interesting one. This was a fine Six-Man Tag. Again, nothing extraordinary by any means, but it was entertaining for what it was. Even though Maria Kanellis isn’t on this show, Karl Anderson is still mesmerized with her. However, this didn’t totally hamper his team as The Bullet Club got the win after Anderson & Gallows hit The Magic Killer on Honma.

7.) The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga) vs. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi): **1/2

This is a flashback of sorts to the recent Okada/Bad Luck Fale feud. Honestly not sure why Okada’s facing Fale again here, since he definitely beat “The Underboss” at Invasion Attack. I guess they just had nothing else to do. Okada gets the win for his team after hitting the Rainmaker on Tama Tonga.

8.) CHAOS (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, & Kazushi Sakuraba) vs. Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & Katsuyori Shibata: ***1/2

I think Sakuraba is part of CHAOS at this point, right? He’s been teaming with Yano, and CHAOS in general, for months now. Anyway, this was easily the best multi-man tag team match of the night. That shouldn’t be much of a surprised, considering most of the people involved. What I like about this match is that there are lot of singles feuds put together in this Six-Man Tag (Nakamura/Goto, Tanahashi/Yano, & a budding issue between Shibata & Sakuraba). Some entertaining action in this match from start to finish. For the most part, this was pretty fun to watch. Nakamura continued his shtik of how he “can’t see” Goto, and Yano would end up scoring the win for CHAOS after trapping Tanahashi in one of his many rollups (after pulling Tanahashi’s long hair, of course).

9.) NEVER Openweight Title - Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe: ****

Now there’s an interesting backstory to this match. Makabe initially won the NEVER Openweight Title from Ishii at Wrestle Kingdom 9. He was supposed to defend against Ishii in a rematch at The New Beginning In Sendai, but Makabe had a severe case of the flu, and was forced to vacate the title, which was one back by Ishii in an amazing match against Makabe’s GBH stablemate, Tomoaki Honma, in an amazing match.

So basically, this is a rematch that was supposed to happen months ago. Much like The Tokyo Dome on January 4th, Makabe is coming in as the challenger, accept this time, he never actually lost the title. This was a great Main Event, as easily the best match on the show. While it wasn’t quite as good as their initial match from The Tokyo Dome, this was still a pretty awesome match. These two proved once again that they can hit very hard, and this was a slugfest right from the opening bell. It might have been a little longer than I would have liked, but still, this was still a very satisfying Main Event. There were just some brutal exchanges between the two at various points. Eventually, Makabe would hit his King Kong Knee Drop to win the match and recapture the NEVER Openweight Title!

After the match, Makabe cuts a promo to close the show.

Overall: 7.25/10

This was probably one of the weaker “big” New Japan shows of the year, but that really shouldn’t be much of a surprise. It is a smaller show, in a venue of only (I think) 2500 people. It was basically a larger “Road To….” show with a number of title matches thrown in. The only matches that are really worth checking out are the Main Event, and the Six-Man Tag in the Semi-Main Event. I do like the fact they are trying to headline these smaller shows with some of the other titles. Putting the NEVER Openweight Title in the Main Event of a show like this was a really good move. Like I said, this wasn’t the strongest NJPW show you’ll see, but there are a few things on here that are worth seeing.

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