Sunday, July 31, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - Destruction in Kobe 2015 Review

Hirooki Goto defends his IWGP Intercontinental Title against Shinsuke Nakamura!

NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2015
Kobe, Japan 9/27/15

1.) Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka vs. David Finlay & Jay White: **1/2

The shows kicks off with a battle of the Young Lions!! These matches always tend to fun, and this one was certain a nice little opener. It was by no means spectacular, but it was decent way to opener the show. Komatsu & Tanaka would get the win here. No real complaints from me.

2.) Six-Man Tag - Yuji Nagata, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, & Tiger Mask vs. Captain New Japan, Juice Robinson, & Manabu Nakanishi: **1/4

I think the big story here is that Juice Robinson (formerly CJ Parker in NXT) is now part of New Japan. I guess the story is that, after being released from WWE, Robinson wanted to go elsewhere to prove himself and get better, and he ended up in New Japan (thanks to the help of NXT’s head trainer Jason Albert, the former Tensai/Giant Bernard/A-Train/Albert, who spent a number of years in New Japan). As far as this match goes, it was just ok. Nothing much else to say besides that. In the end, the team of Nagata, Liger, & Tiger Mask would get the win.

3.) Eight-Man Tag - CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Roppongi Vice, & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Great Bash Heel (NEVER Openweight Champion Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma), Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi: ***1/4

I don’t know why, but I just always find it cool whenever Ishii teams up with Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta. Anyway, they’re teaming here with their other CHAOS stablemate YOSHI-HASHI to take on Makabe, Honma, Mascara Dorada & Taguchi. I thought this was a pretty good Eight-Man Tag. It was certainly better than the multi-man tag that came before it. An entertaining match from start to finish, and all eight guys seemed to get a chance to shine. Eventually, the CHAOS contingent would score the victory.

4.) Six-Man Tag - Matt Sydal, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, & Satoshi Kojima vs. The Bullet Club (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega, & IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows): ***1/2

Sydal is the next challenger for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title, with Kenny Omega regained from KUSHIDA a few nights prior in Okayama. On that same show, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows successfully retained their IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles over Tenzan & Kojima. Now, on this show, those two different title programs have come together in one Six-Man Tag, which I actually thought was pretty good. The action was solid from start to finish, and it was just, as a whole, entertaining. Sydal scored the clean win for his team after hitting Omega with a Shooting Star Press, so that does a really good job to further set up their upcoming title match.

5.) Tetsuya Naito vs. Katsuyori Shibata: ***1/4

So this feud came about during their interactions during the G1 Climax, first during their singles match early on in the tournament (where Shibata beat Naito), and later on in several multi-man tags. I just love the personality clash between these two, with Naito’s “too-cool-for-school” (if that’s the right term for it) heel persona clashing with the no-nonsense asskicker in Shibata. This ended up being a good match, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I thought this match definitely fell below expectations, which really sucks, because they had a great match during the G1. I’m honestly not sure what it was. I think, based on the brawls we saw leading up to it, people thought it was going to be more heated than it ended up being. That was definitely part of it, in my opinion. Naito, after hitting a series of low blows, hit the Destino to secure the win. Definitely one of most disappointing matches from New Japan in 2015.

After the match, Naito attacked Jay White, who had been tending to Shibata, and also attacked a cameraman. Shibata then flew in from out of nowhere, and the two brawled to the back.

6.) Six-Man Tag - The Bullet Club (“The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, Tama Tonga, & Cody Hall) vs. CHAOS (IWGP Heavyweight Champion “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, Kazushi Sakuraba, & Toru Yano): ***¼

Here we have another match that’s building towards the Okada/Styles rematch at King of Pro-Wrestling 2015. This time, it’s a Six-Man Tag, with Tama Tonga & Kazushi Sakuraba joining their respective solid. Another good multi-man tag. Like I said in my review of the show from Okayama a few days prior, these multi-man tags always seem to blend together, but most of the time, they almost always deliver. There was some solid action throughout this match. The interactions between AJ Styles & Sakuraba specifically were pretty exciting to watch. In the end, Sakuraba would score the win for his team after submitting Cody Hall.

7.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - reDRagon vs. The Time Splitters: ****

Now we’re getting into the “meat & potatoes of this card, with the first of three title matches. First up is the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. KUSHIDA is just coming off losing the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title to Kenny Omega, and is looking to bounce back with his tag team partner Alex Shelley. These two teams had a number of matches with each other in 2014, with reDRagon having the edge in the series coming in. I thought this was a pretty great match! Both of these teams are just so incredible, so it should be no surprise that this ended up being so good. Great back & forth action throughout. You really can’t go wrong with either team, and they once again produced. Eventually, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly were able to hit Chasing The Dragon to retain their titles.

After the match, Roppongi Vice came out, seemingly to congratulate reDRagon on their victory, but they attacked them instead, hitting their tag team finisher, Strong Zero, on Bobby Fish. Looks like they’ll be the next challengers.

8.) #1 Contender’s Match - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale: ****

Bad Luck Fale defeated Tanahashi during the G1 Climax, which Tanahashi went on to win. So, naturally, Bad Luck Fale is getting a shot at Tanahashi’s G1 Briefcase/Tokyo Dome Title Shot. Honestly, I thought this was a great match! It’s been proven that if you put Bad Luck Fale in a match with somebody who can carry him, he’s perfectly capable of having really good matches. We’ve seen it before when he’s wrestled guys like Nakamura & Okada, and now we’ve seen it again, as he had a legitimately great match here against Hiroshi Tanahashi, which was even better than their match in the G1 Climax. Bad Luck Fale looked like a monster, and Tanahashi fought back, and was able to overcome the monster, in the end, to win the match and retain his title shot.

9.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: ****½

I felt like we were done with this feud after Goto defeated Nakamura soundly on two occasions (first in his title victory Wrestling Dontaku 2015, and then in the rematch at Dominion 2015). However, Nakamura earned a victory over Goto during the G1 Climax, which has resulted in another title match between the two. I know both guys were great, but I was a little wary going in, since this was the fourth singles match these two would have in 2015, but they surpassed my expectations and had an incredible match!! This was awesome! It was easily their best match in this particular series. I think where things came together is that they put together a complete match that was great from start to finish, as opposed to some of their previous matches, which have gotten complains for having some rather uninteresting first halves. These two just put together a spectacular match, and the closing few minutes especially were just great. Eventually, Nakamura scored the victory to regain the IWGP Intercontinental Title!!

After the match, Nakamura was cutting one of his usual promos to close the show, but he was soon interrupted by Karl Anderson, who had beaten Nakamura early on in the G1 Climax. Based on his victories over both Nakamura & Goto, Anderson challenges Nakamura to a title match, and the challenge was accepted!

Overall: 8.25/10

I think the last three matches really helped to make this show really good. Goto vs. Nakamura was a fantastic Main Event, and as I said, it was definitely the best of their singles matches in 2015. You also had a great singles match between Hiroshi Tanahashi & Bad Luck Fale (easily one of Fale’s best singles matches in New Japan), and a great IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match between reDRagon & The Time Spillers. You also had a number of multi-man tag team matches, with The Bullet Club vs. Matt Sydal & TenKoji being the standout. Additionally, while it was incredibly disappointing, Naito vs. Shibata was still good. It just didn’t meet the lofty expectations people had for it. As a whole, this was a pretty good showing from New Japan.

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