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Thread: NJPW Match Reviews

  1. #1

    NJPW NJPW Match Reviews

    I meant to do this thread ages ago, but with NJPW getting its own section, I figured it had better chances of people being interested in just looking at individual matches especially since the old puro review thread is lost somewhere in the indie section. Who knows, maybe others will opt to talk about what random matches they're watching, especially if they're subscribed to NJPW World.

    To kick us off, some old reviews I've had saved, but never posted:

    Kenny Omega © vs Chris Jericho - IWGP US Title - Wrestle Kingdom 12
    By this point, I had heard a ton of praise for this match, although to some extent, I didn’t think that the match could be capable of living up to that reputation. After all, it’s Chris Jericho. He’s not bad or anything, but when was the last time he had a great year? Yet, he was like an entirely different wrestler here, easily the best he’s looked since his 2009 feud against Rey Mysterio. The biggest appeal of this match is that it felt different. Perhaps it’s because I’ve barely watched any New Japan in the last few years, but nothing about it felt predictable to me. The match was chaotic and hate fueled. I imagine being a member of Bullet Club, Omega was technically a heel, but in this match, Jericho heeled it up so beautifully that Omega was the de facto babyface and it felt natural. Whether it was Jericho attacking Red Shoes and Red Shoes’ son to all of Jericho’s vicious slamming of Omega’s head into a steel chair to even mocking the crowd’s “Kenny!” pleads, Jericho was amazing. Part of the story is that being the veteran, Jericho was able to dominate the majority of the match, but since Omega is currently the top guy, he was able to hang in there and slowly make a comeback until it got to the point where old man Jericho had nothing left against Omega and Omega was firing off V-Triggers left and right and coming closer and closer to victory. The finish is perfect with Jericho’s #1 weapon, the steel chair, coming back to being his own worst enemy as Omega delivered an One-Winged Angel on a chair to finally beat the Alpha. Truthfully, I only have one small gripe about the match and it’s partially because they did such an amazing job with it earlier in the match. Since it’s a no dq match, Jericho went out of his way to not let rope breaks interrupt The Walls. Yet, during the last Walls, Jericho just let go of Omega once he reached the ropes rather than come up with a better explanation for why he would. It’s not a big thing, but since they did such a good job of making the rope breaks into a story, I wanted each one to mean something. Still, I believe it’s the best Jericho singles match I’ve ever seen and one that benefits from the fact that I had zero confidence in Jericho’s ability to deliver at this stage. **** ¾

    The Steiner Brothers vs Hiroshi Hase and Keiji Mutoh - Battlefield 1994
    For the second straight year, The Steiners are allowed to work the January 4th Tokyo Dome event while being members of the WWE roster. Even though it was a provision of their WWE contracts, it’s still such an unique thing for a WWE talent to be allowed to do back in the day. I went into this with high expectations, hoping that it’d be a peak early 90s style Steiners match where it’s all about having a fast pace and constantly dropping bitches on their heads. Instead, the first half especially was really slow going. Then, when the pace does pick up and involves wrestlers being destroyed, it’s actually Hase and Mutoh that is dropping Rick and Scott on their heads. There’s a fun sequence with Mutoh and Hase taking turns running along the super long entrance way to deliver lariats to both members of the Steiners. While the Steiners didn’t quite live up to my expectations, they did get in some of their standard ass kicking the later we got into the match. Poor Hase pays dearly for daring to drop the Steiners on their heads by being Rick and Scott’s personal crash test dummy. In total, Hase would be dropped on his head with Scott’s always amazing Steiner Screwdriver, Doomsday DDT, and the Steiner Doomsday Bulldog. It’s the last move that manages to get the pinfall over Hase. *** ¼

    Yuji Nagata vs Yoshi-Hashi - G1 Climax 2016 - Day 6
    It’s the old legend vs the young star that has slowly been scratching and clawing his way into trying to become a star. As someone who enjoyed Hashi when I first began getting into NJPW in 2012, it’s nice to see New Japan elevate him at least a little. The early going of this was good, but the longer this went on, the better it became. It was all about the youngest trying anything to beat the legend. Hashi busted out a running (Well...walking) power bomb, senton bomb, his butterfly lock submission, and surprise small packages, but Nagata got out of everything. That’s not to say Nagata had an easy time putting away Hashi though. Hashi managed to get to the ropes during a Shirome hold and got in a few kick outs of his own. Eventually though, it was the old legend that was able to best the younger guy with a backdrop suplex for the victory. A hell of a match to kick off the night of tournament matches. *** ½

    Katsuhiko Nakajima vs EVIL - G1 Climax 2016 - Day 6
    There’s a very good chance the only Nak match I’ve ever seen was some random NOAH match from 2011. Odd too since I know he worked several ROH matches before I gave up on the company. This will be my first time seeing Watanabe since becoming EVIL. In a match mostly about first impressions, I liked Nak for all of his kicks and wanted to see him wrestle someone like Shibata or Ishii. EVIL, on the other hand, didn’t do much for me. He’s got a couple of nice looking moves, but I was left mostly bored by him. ***

    Tomohiro Ishii vs Bad Luck Fale – G1 Climax 2014 - Day 1
    Fale is an unstoppable monster, but Ishii is a pitbull that absorbs punishment and refuses to stay down. Some great spots with Ishii finally rocking the big man with a series of headbutts. The no selling spots by Ishii were also well done. Fale may not be great, but against the right opponent, he actually comes off like he’s good. *** ¼

    Tomohiro Ishii vs Satoshi Kojima– G1 Climax 2014 - Day 2
    This began as just a hard hitting who’s the tougher mofo? Again, Ishii impressed with his headbutts and this time around, chops to the throat. Why would he chop a man in the throat? Ishii’s a motherfucking bad ass, that’s why. Both guys threw everything at the other with Kojima hitting ace crushers as if they’re going out of style. Part of the appeal of the match was that they were pretty similar to each other. Both can absorb a lot of punishment, love a physical match and they both can’t get enough of lariats and brainbusters. What started off as just being fun ended up being damn good. *** ½

    Tomohiro Ishii vs Shelton X Benjamin – G1 Climax 2014 - Day 3
    Ugh. I do not like Benjamin. Early on, Benjamin’s selling is so bad. He’s just going through the motions. Since Benjamin was in control of the majority of this short match, I didn’t get my usual fill of Ishii greatness. On the plus side, we did get to see Ishii briefly slap on a far better looking ankle lock than Benjamin has ever done. Pretty uneventful otherwise thanks to the storyless booking, Benjamin controlling the match and Ishii sadly losing. Go away, Shelton, Jim doesn’t like you anymore! ** ½

    Tomohiro Ishii vs Tomoaki Honma – G1 Climax 2014 - Day 4
    Admittedly, I don’t really see much in Honma, so perhaps that played a part in why I didn’t think this was as amazing as I’ve heard others claim it was. Still, there’s plenty to dig about the match and it’s Ishii’s best in the G1 thus far. Really dug the build up to Honma finally connecting with the headbutt. From that point on, Honma was using headbutts as if he was the Young Bucks hitting super kicks. The chop fest was great thanks to how long it went on. Plenty of nearfalls and a crowd that was into everything. Another good war similar to Ishii/Kojima, but I would have liked to see Ishii on offense more. *** ¾
    Last edited by Jim; 12-15-2018 at 01:04 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: NJPW Match Reviews

    Always nice to see you reviewing some New Japan matches.

    I was floored by how much I enjoyed Jericho/Omega. On paper heading into it I did think there was a potential disaster on our hands because it's two wrestlers who are their own biggest fans and Jericho shouldn't be put into 30+ minute situations anymore that aren't hugging the bottom rope of a Royal Rumble. I agree I think it was an amazing match and a stellar performance from Jericho. The matches he has had since have had diminishing returns, but his character work is still pretty damn good.

    Yoshi-Hashi's 2016 G1 was really good, he took his opportunity by the horns.

    I do not miss the days of 10 G1 matches per show even if you did get the tournament completed in half the amount of shows. I would stick with Ishii's match from that tournament to get to the Nagata, Tanahashi and Nakamura matches. I undoubtedly liked the Honma match more than you, but it's the 2015 G1 match that Honma wins that I go gaga for.

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