We reviewed Part 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 10 earlier this week. Last night, AXSTV and New Japan Pro Wrestling brought us Part 2 of the January 4, 2016 matches from the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The first broadcast was amazing and so this one is expected to be just as good.
The first bout is the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Championship featuring Toru Yano, Jay Briscoe, and Mark Briscoe against Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tama Tonga. Before the match starts Yano spits and throws water on his opponents and all six men start brawling with each other. It’s chaos in the early going as The Briscoes double team Takahashi outside the ring. Yano and Tonga finally slow things down as the legal men fighting in the ring with their respective teammates on the apron. Yano is isolated in the corner and Bad Luck Fale is tagged in. He sits on Yano’s chest to try and get the pin, but he kicks out at two. All three Bullet Club members get in the ring and triple-team Yano after taking out The Briscoes. Fale squashes him in the corner and Yano desperately needs to make a tag.
Mark Briscoe gets the tag against Takahashi and puts on a nice series of offense. Takahashi counters with a fisherman’s buster and then tags Tonga in. Jay Briscoe gets the tag and plants Tonga, cover but kick out. Huge neckbreaker by Jay but Tonga again kicks out. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett question the slow count by the ref. Tonga takes control for a moment but Jay battles back. Jay gets Tonga up on his shoulder trying to slam him down, but Tonga holds on to the top rope for dear life. Yano runs over with a steel chair and smashes it down on Tonga’s hands, forcing him to let go. Mark leaps off the top rope and hits Doomsday Device with his brother, planting Tonga. Jay covers for the three count and the team of Jay and Mark Briscoe and Yano are the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Champions!
The second match of the night is Los Ingobernables de Japon member and villainous heel Tetsuya Naito taking on Hirooki Goto. His fellow Los Ingobernables members, Bushi and EVIL, accompany Naito to the ring which is not good news for his opponent, Goto, who comes out all alone. Naito attacks a camera man before the match for getting too close to him. Before the match starts EVIL and Bushi attack Goto from behind. Naito rolls in and starts fighting Goto as the bell rings. But Goto isn’t staying down for long, he forces Naito to roll out of the ring with his attack. As Goto starts fighting Naito, EVIL attacks from behind and viciously throws Goto into the steel guard rail. Ouch.
EVIL puts a chair on Gotos neck and then whacks it with another chair. Naito sets up a table and gets Goto up on the apron. Naito hits a neckbreaker into the table on Goto. Back in the ring, Goto hits a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope which is really amazing. He covers, but Naito miraculously kicks out at two and we head to commercial. When we return, Naito and Goto battle in the center of the ring. Naito hits a hurricanrana off the top rope and gets a near fall on Goto. The two trade forearms in the middle and work the crowd into a frenzy. Goto picks up Naito and hits a neckbreaker, driving Naito down onto his knee. Goto tries to kick Naito, but Naito grabs his foot and swings it into the ref, knocking him to the mat. Doesn’t take long for EVIL to come in and hold Goto as Bushi spits mist at him.
But Goto moves and the mist hits EVIL. Goto plants Bushi and turns to face Naito. Naito kicks Goto in the groan and covers. The ref has recovered, he counts but only a two count. Goto lifts Naito and hits his Shouten Kai suplex finisher. He covers and that’s the ball game. Goto wins an incredible match! Nice final couple of minutes at the end of that one with lovely back and forth with everyone setting up a strong finish. Really enjoyed that one. Goto stands alone and overcomes incredible odds. After the match, he is interviewed backstage and asked about his victory. He says it was sort of a hollow victory because he was fighting Naito and it wasn’t for a title. He also says he has never wrestled in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. He says this year he will become the face of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The final match of the night was for the IWGP Tag Team Championship with champs Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows being challenged by Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma. Anderson and Honma start things off. Anderson rakes the eyes of Honma and then moves out of the way of Honma’s falling headbutt. Gallows tagged in and he punches Honma in the corner. Anderson gets back in and misses with a running senton. Honma tags in Makabe. He makes easy work of Anderson, forcing him to roll out of the ring and regroup. Honma and Makabe double team Gallows, knocking him outside the ring as well. All four men fight out on the floor. Gallows throws Makabe into the guard rail and then clocks him with a chain, as Anderson distracts the ref.
Back in the ring, Anderson clobbers Makabe with strikes. Gallows tags in and continues attacking Makabe. Honma is outside the ring with blood on the back of his head. Hasn’t stirred much for a few moments. Gallows and Anderson double team Makabe. Anderson covers three times, but Makabe kicks out each time. Makabe with a hard clothesline on Anderson and finally Honma has recovered. Makabe tags him in and he slams Gallows then drops a headbutt on Anderson. Honma chops Anderson in the corner, whips him to the other but Anderson recovers and kicks him away. Gallows trips Honma up and then gets in the ring to help Anderson hit a couple of moves into a cover. Makabe interrupts the count and keeps his team alive.
Gallows and Anderson set up Honma for the Magic Killer but Makabe breaks it up and knocks Gallows out of the ring. Headbutt on Anderson by Honma. He slams Anderson and then hits the top rope. Unfortunately, Gallows runs in and punches him, stunning Honma. Anderson tries to get a Gun Stun off the top rope, but Honma jumps down onto the apron. Back in the ring, Anderson hits a brutal running powerbomb on Honma but the small man kicks out at two and three-quarters. Honma counters two Gun Stuns in the ring and then headbutts Anderson. Both men are down. Both Gallows and Makabe are tagged in. Nelson Powerslam on Makabe and Gallows covers, but only a near fall. Anderson and Gallows try to tag team Makabe, but he knocks them both down with a double clothesline.
Makebe and Gallows collide with each other and Makabe wins that exchange with a clothesline. Makabe and Honma set up Anderson for a Headbutt Doomsday Device off the top rope. Honma slams Gallows and then hits a falling headbutt. Makabe climbs the top rope and hits a King Kong Knee Drop and covers. One. Two. Three! Honma and Makabe win! This is the 39-year-old Honma’s first ever championship in the company! What a moment. Wow, fantastic match. After the match, Honma says it is a dream come true. He thanks Makabe and says this is all because of him. The DVR shows another new episode next Friday so you know we’ll be here with coverage. Maybe some Wrestle Kingdom 10 Part 3?? We can only hope. Just a wonderful program with three great matches.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
I had to stop and wonder if maybe today was my birthday and I just forgot. I woke up, turned on the television and saw three all new episodes of New Japan Pro Wrestling on the DVR. I cannot wait to start watching, so let’s get started. The three broadcasts feature matches from October 12th, 2015 Ryogoku Kokugikan, also known as Ryougoku Sumo Hall, from Sumida, Japan. The matches will be presented in three parts.
First bout on the first episode features Tomoaki Honma versus Yoshi-Hashi. Yoshi-Hashi comes out first, brandishing a long, red walking stick. Yoshi-Hashi goes right for Honma’s injured lower back which is taped up. They spill outside the ring and Yoshi-Hashi throws his opponent around against the steel barricade. He then hits Honma in the gut with the red walking stick. Half Botson crab hold by Yoshi-Hashi but Honma crawls to the rope and breaks it. Twice during the opening minutes Honma tries for a running headbutt dive and misses wildly. Commercial break.
After the break Honma’s back causes him to crumple to the mat. He manages to suplex Yoshi-Hashi and then finally lands the headbutt. Quick DDT and then he climbs the top rope. Honma jumps off and lands a blockbuster on Yoshi-Hashi. Near pinfall, but a kick out at two. Honma takes control but he misses with a diving headbutt off the top rope. Both men down. Powerbomb by Yoshi-Hashi into a bridge pinfall, but Honma kicks out at two. Two headbutts by Honma but Yoshi-Hashi kicks out at two. Diving headbutt off the top rope by Honma connects and he gets the pinfall victory. Okay match. Pretty straight-forward with no real surprises. Several moves were over-utilized and neither guy really looked as if their heart was in it. Flat interviews by both afterwards. Slow start to the show.
This next one shouldn’t disappoint. It features Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, and Kazushi Sakuraba versus Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, and Bad Luck Fale. Nakamura and Anderson start the match. Fast action to kick things off and a moderate applauds from the crowd. Gallows and Sakuraba tag in. Gallows chops him in the throat. Bedlam breaks out ringside as Anderson and Fale beat down Nakamura. Sakuraba is isolated in Gallows’ corner and Bad Luck Fale is tagged in. Anderson and Nakamura make their way back in and go to work. Crowd showing some love to Nakamura. The goofy Yano tags in to take on Fale. Crowd cheers. Yano is quite a character. Tama Tonga runs in as Gallows distracts the ref and tries to take out Yano. But he lowblows both Yano and Fale. Yano covers and gets the pinfall! Absolutely ridiculous. Of all the talent in this match, Yano wins it. HaHa. Too Funny. This match suffered from being way too short.
The main event for the first episode is Togi Makabe defending his NEVER Openweight Championship against Tomohiro Ishii. Slow grind to start this one. Outside the ring Makabe throws Ishii against the barricade multiple times. The two agree to get back in the ring and fight. HaHa. Double clothesline, neither goes down. This one turns into a hoss match with both men beating the hell out of each other in simple ways. This one is cool if you loike big man strong style, but it doesn’t really deliver the wow factor of a championship bout for me. The match ends when Ishii hits a vertical brainbuster on Makabe and wins the title. After the match Tomoaki Honma, whom we saw earlier, comes out to challenge Ishii for his newly acquired title.
The second episode features Part 2 of the October 12th matches. Our opening contest has champion Kenny Omega defending his IWGP Junior Heavyewight Championship against Matt Sydal. Fast action to start the show, crowd is lively. Omega takes a break from the action to get a drink of water, then spits it on Sydal. Omega then takes the tape off his wrist, balls it up and throws it at his opponent. Hard backbreaker by the champ and he’s clearly in control. Sydal recovers with a flurry of offense and a dive out of the ring. He gets a huge reversal and damn near pins the champ. Crowd very appreciative. But a full Nelson suplex and a running knee sets up Omega’s One Winged Angel finisher and he pins the challenger to retain. Good start to the show, exciting match to watch. Could have benefited from another few minutes.
The second match and main event features Hiroshi Tanahashi putting his Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender spot (basically Japan’s Money in the Bank briefcase) on the line against the villainous Tetsuya Naito. This is a rematch from the G1 Climax tournament back in June in which Naito bested Tanahashi. The winner of this match will main event Wrestle Kingdom early next year. Naito takes his time getting to the ring and allowing the match to start. Tanahashi dropkicks Naito outside the ring but quickly pays for it as Naito starts tossing him around against the steel railing. Naito sets Tanahashi up on the apron and crashes him down to the floor with a reverse DDT. Naito sets up a chair, sets Tanahashi in and then runs and drop kicks him back into the barricade. Naito rolls in the ring and sets up a chair. He kicks back and relaxes as Red Shoes starts a 20 count. Tanahashi makes it back in at 18 seconds. Naito goes to work stomping him in the corner and then sets him up on the ropes. Naito rubs his foot on Tanahashi and then dropkicks him. Naito spits in Tanahashi’s face. Tanahashi’s lip is busted open.
Tanahashi goes to work on Naito’s legs and he barely gets out of a Texas Cloverleaf submission. This bout is so evenly matched that I can barely pull my eyes away to type. Both men want to destroy the other and neither is backing down. The pair work the crowd into a frenzy at times. Tanahashi employs some quick chain-wrestling and drops Naito. Crowd starts chanting for him. Naito hits a Slingblade, near fall on Tanahashi. Naito throws Tanahashi into Red Shoes and the ref is down. Naito’s new partner, Takaaki Watanabe, comes into the ring and the two provide a beatdown to Tanahashi. Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto run in to save the day, dropping Naito and Watanabe. Shibata tries to revive Red Shoes, who rolled out of the ring. Low blow in the ring by Naito and a nearfall on Tanahashi as Red Shoes comes in for the count. Slingblade counter by Tanahashi, and then he climbs to the top rope. High Fly Flow splash and then another into a pinfall. Three counts later and Tanahashi is still going to the Toyko Dome. After the match, Goto and Watanabe fight. Shibata runs Watanabe out of the ring. Naito walks out with his new protege, smiling, as if the result of the match didn’t even register. He was just happy to cause chaos in the ring. What an amazing match. Well told, great execution, and a strong debut from Watanabe. Naito continues his phenomenal work as an evil heel.
The third and final episode features, you guessed it, part three of the Oct. 12 matches. The entire 60 minute episode will be devoted to Kazuchika Okada defending his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against A.J. Styles. Styles comes out first with fellow Bullet Club members Anderson, Gallows, and Tonga. Red Shoes is the referee for this one. These two have battled four times this year, splitting the outcomes. The bell rings and here we go. The crowd starts an A.J. Styles chant, but he yells at them to shut up. “I know who I am!” and he points to the Bullet Club and says that’s all he needs and they’re his family. Okada goes to work on the left arm of Styles, wrenching it behind his back to start. Styles reverses it and pushes him against the ropes. Back and forth, quick grappling from both. They part and the crowd applauds. The two trade slaps and Styles wobbles down to his butt, shocked. The Bullet Club gets involved early, dragging Okada out of the ring and beating the hell out of him as Styles distracts the ref. Tonga powerbombs Okada on the apron and rolls him back into the ring. Near fall, but Okada manages to kick out at two.
After a commercial break, Styles runs the table, keeping Okada down and winded. Okada recovers with a DDT and finally gets back to his feet. He misses with an elbow but dropkicks Styles out of the ring. Okada tries to whip Styles into the barricade, but he leaps over it. Then Okada plants him with a DDT on the ground. He throws Styles into the ring and gets a near fall. Styles manages to reach the ropes to break the count. Springboard forearm by Styles drops Okada. He follows it up with a gut-buster and a cover. Okada kicks out. Styles suplexes Okada into the corner. The two trade forearms in the middle of the ring, dropping one another. Huge dropkick by Okada, crowd erupts. There is just so much high caliber offense in this one. Okada covers Styles, but Anderson grabs his feet and pulls him out of the ring. Okada throws Anderson into the guard rail and then climbs back in the ring. Instead of going after Styles, he bounces off the ropes and flips out of the ring, taking down all three members of the Bullet Club. Back in the ring, Styles puts Okada on the top rope. He superplexes him to the mat and covers. Okada barely kicks out. Commercial break.
When we return, Styles tries to get Okada to tap with several leg submissions. Okada struggles to hold on. He crawls to the ropes and lunges out to break the hold. But the damage is done. Moments later, Okada hits a Tombstone Piledriver on Styles. Okada is too tired to cover Styles, writhing as he holds his left knee. Back on their feet, Okada hits a series of vicious clotheslines. He follows it up with the Rain Maker finisher and pins Styles! Crowd goes wild. This was Okada’s first title defense and he was successful in more ways than one. He goes on to face Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom. What a spectacular match. This was so good, eaxctly what pro-wrestling should be. It shows how great two athletes can be when they care about what they are doing in the ring. Anderson and Gallows help carry Styles out. In the ring, Okada says A.J. helped add to the shine of the belt. Crowd applauds. Tanahashi enters the ring behind him. He says, “Next time…it’s me and you Tanahashi.” He hands the mic over and Tanahashi says Okada is the champion and he’s the man. Tanahashi says the man should be champion.
The trio of episodes started off slow, but grew better and better as the night went on, culminating in an exceptional second half of the three hour block. Josh Barnett and Jim Ross did another round of fantastic commentary, covering each moment with clarity and professionalism. The highlights were, of course, Naito and Tanahashi, and Styles vs Okada. The top guys at New Japan Pro Wrestling are some of the finest damn athletes on the planet. Can’t even believe TNA wasted both Okada and Styles when they were with their company. Shame. Now it appears that WWE is going to waste Styles much the same. At least we will always have his NJPW work. If you plan on watching last night’s episodes, I would advise skipping the first one and just watching the final two. You’ll thank me later. What did you think of our breakdown and the matches? Let us know in the comments below. Currently, my DVR schedule doesn’t show any new NJPW episodes next week, so it might be a few weeks before we write about them again. But as soon as they are on, we’ve got ya covered. Have a good weekend, wrestling fans!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
AXS TV took a break broadcasting a new NJPW episode last week. It was sorely missed in the F2H household. But they are back this week in their regular 9PM time slot. Let’s see what they have in store for us, with lots of gold on the line. Josh Barnett and Jim Ross on commentary as per usual.
Tonight’s matches come from September 23rd at the Okayama Prefectural Multipurpose Grounds auditorium at the Momotaro Arena in Okayama, Japan. There are some good matches coming our way. First up is a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championships. Champs Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows (Bulletclub) take on Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima (as the team Tencozy). Tenzan and Gallows start the match. Although Tenzan is no lightweight, Gallows massively towers over him. Gallows starts the match dominant, tossing Tenzan around. Amazingly, Tenzan gets him up for a suplex and his momentum carries on. Cover, but no count from the ref as Gallows moves quickly. Triangle submission hold by Tenzan, Gallows stands him up, but Tenzan slams him down, never taking the hold off. Tenzan climbs the top rope but Anderson grabs his ankle and Gallows kicks him off. Anderson tags in.
Doesn’t take long for Kojima to get the tag and he hammers Anderson in the corner. Opposite corner and a full body slam. Climbs the top rope and drops an elbow. Two count kickout by Anderson. Crowd starts a Kojima chant, but Anderson shuts that down with a running dropkick. Powerbomb attempt by Anderson, Kojima reverses. Gallows enters and they tag team Kojima. Ref does nothing to stop it. Kojima nearly falls, but kicks out at a late two. The Club goes for their finisher, but Tenzan runs in and breaks it up. Anderson sets up Kojima but it’s reversed, and he hits a Koji Cutter on Anderson. All four men in the ring with only Gallows standing, but Kojima flips him over with a vicious clothesline. Suplex on Anderson and a cover. Slow count by the ref and Anderson kicks out at two. Clothesline on Anderson and another kickout at two. Tenzan breaks up the action, attacking Anderson. But a quick counter and the native boys are both down. Magic Killer on Kojima and this one is over. Gallows and Anderson retain. Brutal match. Some funky language by Gallows throughout that AXS did not try to censor and that seemed shocking to the crowd. Great match. I wish WWE would let Gallows and Anderson run like this. After the match Gallows and Anderson cut a promo while drinking beer. It’s hilarious. Good start to the show.
Second bout of the night is Kushida versus Kenny Omega for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Kushida wears the belt in, lets see if he can overcome another member of the infamous Bulletclub. Kenny Omega tries to shake hands before the match. Kushida reluctantly reaches out. The shake goes without incident and the crowd claps for Omega’s sportsmanship. Seems like a trick, though, and Kushida is definitely going to keep his guard up. Omega starts grappling, and Kushida takes him down to the mat. It’s obvious from the start this one is evenly matched. Omega gets Kushida against the ropes, ref calls for a break and Omega again shows sportsmanship and cleanly breaks. Crowd claps again. The match slows way down as Omega shakes his hand again, but finally the other foot falls and Omega spits in Kushida’s face. Sportsmanship over. Kushida throws Omega out of the ring, leaps out and tries a Hurricanrana but Omega reverses it, slams him down. Gallows grabs Kushida and holds him. Omega jumps in the ring and tries to leap out but Kushida moves and Gallows is taken out. Kushida’s turn to leap out of the ring and he drops Omega. Ref starts a twenty count.
Moonsault by Kushida but Omega kicks out. Kushida puts in a wrist lock. Omega breaks out and hits a gut wrench powerbomb, but Omega narrowly kicks out. The two trade kicks, then Omega goes off the rope, springboard into an elbow and Omega down. Gallows in the ring, but Alex Shelly stops him. Kushida takes both men down and then Omega grabs him and then hits him with a knee. Omega lifts him up for the One Winged Angel finisher but Kushida breaks out of it and then kicks him in the chest. Anderson runs in and hits a modified Stunner on Kushida. This time Omega hits One Winged Angel, and Kushida drops the belt. Omega wins via pinfall and is the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. After he gets on the mic and calls out Matt Sydal. In a backstage interview Kushida curses shame on Omega and asks him, “Is that the way you want to win?”
Our final matchup tonight is for the NEVER Openweight Championship, featuring champion Togi Makabe taking on challenger Kota Ibushi. Makabe clearly has the size advantage. Red Shoes is refereeing the match. Ibushi goes right at the champ, but can’t move him. A dropkick off the ropes finally drops Makabe to the mat. They roll around on the mat trading punches. It spills out of the ring. Makabe throws Ibushi stomach first into the metal guard rails. He rolls back in the ring and the ref starts the twenty count. Ibushi rolls in only to take some punches in the corner. Makabe runs the show now and Ibushi barely holds on. Vicious kick off the rope and Ibushi takes the champ down. Punches traded in the middle of the ring, spinning gut kick by Ibushi. Makabe out of the corner and he takes another kick, near fall but he kicks out at two. The champ recovers, gets Ibushi up into a King Kong Powerbomb and slams him down. Ibushi kicks out at two. Clothesline in the corner and a series of blows by Makabe. Ibushi breaks out and delivers his own headshots on the top rope. Frankensteiner into a cover, but Makabe kicks out. Huge clothesline by Ibushi and the champ slams into the mat.
After a quick commercial break, both men are outside the ring. Makabe throws Ibushi into the steel guard rail on one side and then the other. Makabe gets a table and the crowd oh’s and ah’s. Makabe gets Ibushi up for a powerbomb, but Ibushi reverses it and then dropkicks Makabe into the guard rail. Ibushi adjusts the table and picks Makabe up. Ibushi lays Makabe on the table, climbs to the top rope and jumps off, stomping Makabe in the chest. The table does NOT break, and it looks like Makabe took a hard blow. Ref starts a twenty count, which seems about four minutes late. Both men roll back in the ring. Huge powerbomb by Ibushi and Makabe barely gets his shoulder up before three. Crowd is applauding and cheering now. Great series of moves between the two men in the corner and Ibushi suplexes into a bridge. Slow count by Red Shoes and Makabe kicks out. Ibushi tries a flip off the top rope but Makabe moves and Ibushi takes the impact right on his head, face first. Kicks and clotheslines by Ibushi but Makabe does not go down. They trade clotheslines and both refuse to drop. They wobble in the center of the ring. Punches back and forth between the two. Makabe clotheslines the hell out of him and goes for a cover, but Ibushi kicks out. Makabe throws Ibushi off the top rope, King Kong Knee Drop and that’s the ballgame. Makabe retains. What a fantastic match! Kota comes out and gets in Makabe’s face after the match. The champ gets on the mic and says he is going to show everyone true pro-wrestling. In regards to his challenger, Makabe said Ibushi’s great skill brought his anger out and that’s why he won the match.
Great to see NJPW moving in the 2015 calendar year with their broadcasts. They were stuck for several weeks in July 2015 showing all the great G1 Climax Tournament. Three great matches for vital championships in Japan. That main event was in the right spot. A fantastic battle between Ibushi and Makabe. The story told in Omega and Kushida’s match was brilliant. And the opening bout between The Club and Tencozy was fun to watch. Another excellent outing for NJPW.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
New Japan Pro Wrestling treated us to two episodes last Friday, running back to back between 8:00 and 10:00. We’ll review them both right here because we know you love the product as much as we do.
The first hour covers last year’s G1 Climax Tournament specifically three matches from August 14, 2015. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett on commentary as per usual. The first match features Doc Gallows, whom you know from his current run in WWE with Mark Anderson and AJ Styles. He looks a bit different in NJPW, sporting black and white face paint. His opponent is Katsuyori Shibata. The match starts with a little submission mat work. Shibata is spilled out of the ring and then Gallows serves him up a choke slam on the apron. As Shibata lays face down on the floor, the ref starts the twenty count. Shibata manages to roll back in at 18. Gallows gives him a hard boot in the face in the corner. Then slaps him. Shibata clearly outsized in this standing about a foot beneath Gallows and definitely being outweighed. Shibata lands a drop kick and finally gets some offense with a suplex. Cover, kick out at two. Crowd starts a chant for Shibata. Reverse chinlock on Gallows, then a kick to his knee, another near fall. Shibata appears to be running the table until he takes a vicious powerbomb and nearly loses. Shibata continues trying to mount an attack, but Gallows stops him each time. Gallows hits The Hangman and that’s all she wrote. Bullet Club wins the day. Really nice match. This is the best I have seen Gallows. He certainly hasn’t looked this good yet in WWE.
The second match of the first hour is Togi Makabe vs Kota Ibushi. Match starts with some vicious blows traded between both men, lots of “illegal” closed-fist punches. Makabe very obviously outweighs Ibushi. Miraculously, Ibushi manages to get Makabe down on the mat and then he goes to work with hard kicks. Out of nowhere, Makabe throws a clothesline and drops Ibushi. More punches, then a suplex. Ibushi kicks out at two. Ibushi gets stuck in the corner and takes many punches before kicking Makabe over the top rope and onto the apron. Face kick and Ibushi drops him to the floor. Springboard moonsault off the second rope and Makabe takes Ibushi’s full body, much to the crowd’s delight. Ref starts a double countout. Back in the ring, both men take turns running the match, couple of near falls. Phoenix Splash out of the corner and Ibushi pins Makabe. High energy match that featured some devastating moves. Even though Makabe lost, he looked strong throughout.
Our third bout features the legendary Hiroyoshi Tenzan taking on the infamous Tetsuya Naito. Prior to the G1 tournament, Naito had made some public comments about Tenzan saying his career was over and he shouldn’t even be in the tournament, setting up a hot feud between the two when they finally met. This is Tenzan’s 20th G1 tournament, a record in Japan. So the seasoned vet should know what he’s doing in the ring. He previously won the entire tournament in 2003, 2004, and 2006. Naito takes his time coming to the ring, infuriating the crowd. As Tenzan comes out, the crowd gives him a standing ovation, cheering loudly. Tenzan enters the match with a small bandage over his eye from a gash he got in a previous match. Natio takes his time removing his mask and jacket. The match finally starts and Tenzan starts headbutting Naito in the corner. They spill out of the ring and start fighting around the apron. Naito’s head gets shoved into the ring post. More headbutts from Tenzan. Naito throws him into the security barricade once, then twice. They go over the barricade and Naito throws Tenzan into audience chairs. He gets back in the ring, leaving Tenzan. Back in the ring, Naito locks in a few submissions. Naito gets his foot on the rope and breaks the hold. Naito spits on Tenzan and the crowd boos. Then Naito attacks the ref, Red Shoes. After taking some headbutts and kicks, Naito sits in the corner, smiling, and spits in Tenzan’s face again. Tenzan is enraged. He tries for a suplex, but Naito reverses it and drops him to the mat. Naito climbs the corner and dropkicks Tenzan as he stands up. Couple of near falls but no winner yet. The match slows way down as both men trade submissions back and forth on the mat. Tenzan’s bandage is hanging off his face as he keeps headbutting Naito. Tenzan locks in the Anaconda Max submission and Naito taps! Crowd goes wild. What a great experience to watch. Naito is one hell of a heel. There’s some boys in WWE that could learn a thing or two from him. He really pisses off his opponent and the crowd. And his aggression and tenacity is matched only by his ring skill. He’s fun to watch and he’s definitely a guy you love to hate. As JR says, “He’s a talented son-of-a-gun, but my God is he despicable.” Tenzan is an old school warrior. He takes a beating, and sells so very well. But he has enough size and power to mount an impressive comeback. This match really had it all. Good action, story telling, and a satisfying finish. Well done to both men.
The second hour is from the same date and features only two matches. The first is Bad Luck Fale of The Bullet Club taking on Toru Yano. Fale comes down to the ring with Tama Tonga. Fale is the largest man in the entire G1 Climax Tournament. Yano comes down holding a red steel chair. He squirts water on Fale, making him angry, then whacks him on the back of the head. Fale beats Yano to the mat and then slams him. Outside the ring, Yano is tossed into the barricade as the ref starts a double count out. Fale gets in quickly but it takes Yano until 19 to roll back in. Yano exposes the turnbuckle and nails Fale in it, but his offense is short lived and Fale takes control again. This one ends quickly as outside the ring Yano low blows Fale and Tonga, rolls in the ring and takes a countout victory. Fale slams the apron, angry after the match. Yano scurries up the ramp and escapes retribution. Brief match, but very entertaining.
The second match would be considered a main event anywhere on the planet. Hiroshi Tanahashi taking on AJ Styles. Styles comes down first, followed by Tanahashi. Crowd is pretty excited for this one. Red Shoes is the ref for this one. Nothing but offense in this one, both men utilizing their massive library of skills. Tanahashi works on AJ’s left leg. Both wrestlers know each other well, so there are several fun counters throughout. Now it’s AJ’s turn to attack Tanahashi’s left leg. Crowd showing respect to both guys. Styles with some strong chops in the corner, he tries to jump on Tanahashi, but it’s ducked and AJ goes down. Tanahashi shoves AJ out of the ring then climbs to the top rope and hits a High Fly Flow on the floor. Both men lay gasping on the floor. Red Shoes checks on them then starts a double countout. Both barely make it back in the ring. Styles hits a springboard, flips and does some sort of impressive looking DDT off a moonsault all in one swift motion. He is slow to get up as his leg is buckling. Tanahashi manages a suplex into a pin but Styles kicks out. Ref takes a bump and then Styles connects a lowblow on Tanahashi. Styles goes for a Styles Clash, but Tanahashi hits a low blow of his own. Both men down with the ref.
Pace slows down as both men trade punches and kicks. Styles locks in a Calf Crusher and Tanahashi writhes in pain. Tanahashi crawls to the bottom rope and breaks the hold. Styles kicks Tanahashi in the back of the head, but immediately Tanahashi hits a neck-breaker. Tanahashi tries to put AJ in the Styles Clash but he reverses it into an ankle lock. Tanahashi kicks him into the corner. Tanahashi hits a Styles Clash, but Styles kicks out at two. Tanahashi tries a High Fly Flow from the top rope but takes AJ’s knees. Styles climbs the top rope and hits a High Fly Flow of his own but Tanahashi kicks out at two. DDT from Styles, but Tanahashi counters the next move and attacks AJ’s knee. Another High Fly Flow from Tanahashi and he pins AJ Styles in the 27th minute of the match. This allows Tanahashi to win the A Block of the G1 Climax Tournament! Wow, what a match. That was terrific. Both men have come a long way from their first meeting at TNA. After the match both men are slow to get up. AJ is helped to the back. Tanahashi gets on a mic as the crowd chants his name. He says he has one more match that he plans on winning. He will take on the winner of the B Block and try to win the entire tournament. He thanks the crowd and tells them he loves them. Afterwards in a separate interview, Tanahashi said this is his best match in 8 years and may be the best match of his career. He calls 2015 an astonishing year for NJPW.
Another A+ effort from NJPW. Each week brings something new and exciting and continues to set the bar for pro-wrestling. This Friday will have Nakamura vs Okada so it should be another fantastic showing of the G1 Climax. We’re looking forward to that one.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
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