New Japans Heavyweight Tag Tournament kicked off. Lots of stories leading tot heir big WrestleKingdom show with some new stories to tell. No I won’t be reviewing every show but wanted to do this one.
Mascara Dorada & David Finlay Jr. defeated Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu
The Addiction (Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels) defeated Juice Robinson & Tiger Mask IV
CHAOS (Gedo and the Kingdom of Michael Bennett & Matt Taven w/Maria Kanellis) defeated Captain New Japan, Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA
Bullet Club (Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & AJ Styles) defeated Jay White, Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata and TenCozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan)
(World Tag League 2015 A Block) CHAOS members Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano defeated GBH (Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe)
(World Tag League 2015 B Block) Los Ingobernables Japan (EVIL & Tetsuya Naito w/BUSHI) defeated IWGP Tag Champs Bullet Club members Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson
(World Tag League 2015 B Block) Meiyu Tag (Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto) vs. CHAOS members NEVER champion Tomohiro Ishii & IC champion Shinsuke Nakamura
(World Tag League 2015 A Block) Love & Power (Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi) vs. CHAOS members IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI
So the first half was your typical NJPW tag stuff with the added bonus of teasing upcoming matches and being spotlights for certain teams. You got the majority of the Young Lions in the opener like usual but this time young David Finley replaced BUSHI as Mascara Dorados partner against Sho and Yohei in a fun match. The Addiction had a nice spotlight against Tiger Mask and Juice Robinson. The American critics are very anti-Juice but the audience seems to like him. Not just being respectful of his work but cheering for certain spots plus I’ve seen some nice twitter responses to him from the Japanese crowd. The match itself was much better than i think people are giving it credit for. The six man with Kingdom will split fans. The Kingdom bring Maria and shenanigans of the sports entertainment type. Amusing to me how much more over Maria is then the team she valet/manages. That match was alright, as was the five on five match. The whole opening set ranged from alright to good but was pretty skipable.
When intermission ended the real show started. First off the predicted winners by several American wrestling sites Makabe and Honma lost to the weird team of Toru Yano (a comedy wrestler) and Kazushi Sakaruba (MMA legend). The stuff with Honma and Sakuraba was my favorite work in the match. Honma is sooooooooo good and so over that I really want him to win a big show. So does the audience. The team still has several matches ahead so Makabe/Honma still have a shot. The match following had BUSHI make his long waited return as part of the Japanese edition of Los Ingobernables. he provided an assist toward the end to get his team the victory but lets talk about this for a moment-heel vs heel. Always interesting with these types of matches as it shows who is more hated and who could go face if allowed. Naito is so over, its funny to think that before this years G1 Climax people were down on him. his reinvention and heel work is brilliant. This match was fun with a great in crowd brawl, some chair spots, and a great crowd.
The last two matches though were the best! Last years winners of Goto and Shibata took on Ishii and superstar Shinsuke Nakamura. Great back and forth with Shibata and Ishii having the best stuff. Hard hitting, lost of macho-ness, lots of good work all around. While I can’t point out a single spot I liked above anything else I can say that DAMN! First great match of the tournament. How do you follow up? With superstar Tanahashi teaming with the returning Michal Elgin taking on the champ Okada and his partner YOSHI-HASHI. Elgins back after his debut run at g1 Climax was critical acclaimed. The Japanese audience loved him, his American doubters became believers, and so on. His last match was at the finals in an exhibition against YOSHI-HASHI but thats not the story-its Tanahahsi vs Okada. This rivalry is the best in wrestling today. The older Ace wanting to stay on top while the younger Ace seeks to truly usurp him as the main focus. These two are the main event at WrestleKingdom and the builds been great. The pull apart brawl at Power Struggle was amazing and their interactions here were top notch. The last stretch of this was beautiful. Arguably better than the previous match and one of the best tag matches I’ve seen this year.
Overall a strong first show of the tour with the last two matches really worth it.