Work commitments have meant that I had to wait longer than I would have liked to watch this show but better late than never.
SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero
This was a fun opener. Nothing particularly extravagant but everyone get their stuff in and it helped continue the build of Roppongi 3K. The only real problem was the commentary team of JR and Josh Barnett. It would be daft of me to say that JR is a bad commentator but as far as this product is concerned he isn't a patch on Kevin Kelly & Don Callis. ***
Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs Hirooki Goto & Gedo
Another fun match, probably slightly better than the first. Juice Robinson continues to show more charisma and talent with every appearance. He and Finlay picked up the win, as expected. ***
Killer Elite Squad vs Toru Yano & Chuckie T
A third fun tag match in a row. There will never be a time when seeing Chuck Taylor in New Japan doesn't make me smile. He, along with Archer, were the two stars of the match, with both putting in really good performances. The crowd was all about Yano though, and this was the sort of show where I like to see his antics. KES won with the Killer Bomb. ***
Cody & Marty Scurll vs Guerrillas of Destiny
It feels like I'm repeating myself here but this was another good tag match, albeit once again it wasn't anything you wouldn't see on any New Japan card. All four of the tag matches so far have felt different from each other, with this one being more about the interactions between the fractured sides of the Bullet Club. Cody's character work is outstanding, as per usual. ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Dragon Lee
Naito is hands down the most dapper looking bastard in wrestling. This was the best match of the night so far, with a particular highlight being Takahashi and Lee slapping the shit out of each other. That match up will never get old. This was a really good 12 minutes of non-stop action. LIJ won, as they should. ***1/2
Rey Mysterio is out to explain that he is too injured to compete on the show. He says that he will return when he is fully fit.
Jushin Liger vs Will Ospreay
Really good match. Liger is 53 years old, that is the same age as Undertaker. The difference in mobility between the two is astounding and Liger got a hell of a lot in here. This was better than I thought it would be. ***1/2
After the match Ospreay challenged Mysterio before being attacked by Marty Scurll.
Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr vs Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii
Now this is a fucking tag match. Suzuki and Sabre might be the nastiest tag team of recent times. I saw someone on Twitter describe them as Murder Dad and Murder Son, and I think that sums it up. This match fell solidly into what I consider great entertainment. Sabre Jr and Suzuki were just being full on dickheads and Ishii was being a double hard bastard. Okada was sort of the foil for this match, filling in the gaps. I really enjoyed it and the Ishii vs Suzuki face off was awesome. Best match of the night so far. ****1/4
New Japan will return to the US on July 7th in San Francisco at the legendary Cow Palace.
Jay White vs Hangman Page (IWGP US Title)
This was a big ask of both of these men, as they are both relatively unproven in the upper card, but I think that on the whole they succeeded. The crowd wasn't necessarily invested for the entire time but they busted their ass and took some crazy bumps, Page in particular, to get their attention. It was a great match that with a few minutes cut off its running time could have been even better. Page looked fantastic. ****
Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks
Wow. This was spectacular. There are certain things that can make a great wrestling match, (storytelling, ring work, memorable spots, psychology), and this had all of those things and more. The entire match was a continuation of the events that started in January, with the Young Bucks seemingly split about what side of the Bullet Club divide they are on, and Omega reluctant to do too much damage to people that he still considers his best friends. The moment where Omega hesitates in hitting Matt with the One Winged Angel, only for Matt to shout at him to do it, was awesome. Matt was awesome in general. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this match. The pacing was superb, the action kept escalating to its wonderful conclusion, and everyone came out of the match looking better than they did heading in. This is definitely a match that all wrestling fans should go out of their way to see. *****
Overall Grade - B+
I am reluctant to go any higher than this for a couple of reasons. Firstly there were production issues. Some of the camera work in the early going was far below the standard it should have been, with moves being missed as a result. Secondly, the commentary, particularly from Jim Ross, was not of the standard that we are used to from New Japan. It's sad to see Ross not really know much about the wrestlers or the moves, or the rules for that matter. Can we get the regular comm team back for the July show as I would rather remember Ross as a good commentator.
As far as the matches were concerned this show was a great time. The last 5 matches are all worth a watch, with the last 3 being must see. That main event is exactly what wrestling should be. It's fucking wonderful.