Face to Heel is trying to venture beyond mainly covering WWE in our articles. It’s hard to do when other companies don’t have the reach and scope of Vince McMahon’s arsenal. Luckily, there’s New Japan Pro Wrestling on AxsTV. And, thanks to AT&T, we finally have access to the POP Channel so coming next week, we will begin to regularly cover TNA’s Impact Wrestling as well.
This week’s NJPW’s broadcast was from the Fukuoka Kokusai Center, originally recorded on May 3rd, 2015. If NJPW ever figures out a way to do live broadcasts or at the very least air their shows within a month of them happening, they will really have a gold mine on their hands to directly compete with WWE. As it is, the broadcasts are dated. The benefit of this however, is the matches are edited to get right to the action, commentary is infinitely better, and they only show the good stuff.
The broadcast this week kicked off with Jim Ross, aka The Greatest Commentator of All Time, alongside Josh Barnett, a powerhouse broadcaster in his own right. The opening bout featured Alex Shelley challenging Bullet Club member, Kenny Omega, for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. What a breath of fresh air to have Good Ole JR on the mic. He is sorely missed calling the action for WWE.
The technical ability of both guys is amazing. With the respectful crowd and in-ring storytelling, this is a hell of a championship match. Shelley is fast and Omega is strong and both styles clash in an all out brawl. While the referee is distracted by the Young Bucks, Omega smashes Shelley in the face with a trash can. The ref seems to lose control of this match. This is one of the sloppiest matches we’ve seen from NJPW in awhile. The ref is letting them get away with a lot of things that shouldn’t be allowed, much to the booing noise of the crowd.
Shelley almost gets a three count pinfall but the ref is pulled out of the ring. Eventually Omega finishes Shelley off and gets his third successful title defense. When there was action in this one it was damn good, but there was a lot of playing loose and fast in this match. Afterwards, Omega cuts a very breathy promo on the mic that is pretty terrible., proclaiming he will not be entering this years tournament.
Six person tag match up next. Bullet Club members Amber Gallows, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows versus Maria Kanellis, Matt Taven, and Michael Bennett. There will be two females in this match but it is not inter-gender. Only the women can wrestle the women and only men can fight the men. Taven and Bennett are the current IWGP Tag Team Champions (as of May 2015). Bennet and Doc Gallows start the match. Taven gets a quick tag in. It doesn’t take long to get Maria vs Amber, crowd goes wild. Gallows using some strong style before Maria tags out and it’s back to the men with Taven vs Gallows. The back story here is Karl Anderson has fallen in love with Maria Kanellis, so there is a lot of hilarious comedy with Anderson chasing Maria around and Gallows and Anderson arguing about their opponent. Fantastic ring psychology in this one. Maria gets a quick inside cradle rollup for the pinfall on Amber Gallows. Fun, quick match.
The main event of the night is another six person tag match. Togi Makabe, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Katsuyori Shibata versus Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, and Kazushi Sakuraba. Please don’t try to pronounce any of those names as Face To Heel does not wish to be responsible for the knot twisting of your tongue. All the men in this match have individual rivalries with one of their opponents much to the crowd’s delight. It makes for a really entertaining match as all combatants know each other very well. Red Shoes is the ref in this one. Speaking of bright colors, there are many exciting outfits in this match. Neon colors, animal prints, etc. Tanahashi gets the pinfall for his team.
That’s it for this week. A really solid 60 minutes of wrestling entertainment. We’ll be back next week with a new review of the self-proclaimed King of Sports, New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker