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Kevin’s NJPW Destruction in Kobe Review

September 23, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW Destruction in Kobe
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Kevin’s NJPW Destruction in Kobe Review  

NJPW Destruction in Kobe
September 22nd, 2019 | Kobe World Hall in Hyogo, Kobe | Attendance: 6,148

Can the Destruction tour, which has been as mediocre as expected, end with a band in Kobe? Only one way to find out. I’m a day or two late for this review but whatever. I had a busy weekend.

Alex Coughlin, Manabu Nakanishi and Michael Richards vs. Yota Tsuji, Yuji Nagata and Yuya Uemura
Weird to see a match opening things that isn’t part of the Young Lions Cup. Here was a perfectly solid multi-man tag. These are usually more fun than the later ones in the show because the Young Lions don’t take it as a night off. Important guys like Okada and Naito will usually give lesser efforts in tags. But Coughlin, Uemura, and co. give it their all. They’ve been working each other so often that the chemistry is there. Nagata and Nakanishi as two old men beating on each other will never get old either. Tsuji hit a Spear and then used the Crab to win in 10:05. Fine stuff with good energy. [**¾]

Young Lions Cup: Clark Connors [6] vs. Ren Narita [10]
Narita is one of three guys alive in the tournament. The other two meet in the next match. Gedo booked this so I’ll give you a guess as to how this went. Take a moment. If you guessed that Narita would lose here so that ONLY the two men in the final match are competing for the spot, then you’re right. Gedo makes all of these tournaments so predictable by the end. Of course, despite his shortcomings, the guys in the match put in the effort. This was hard hitting and felt like it mattered. Conners eliminated Narita with the Crab in 7:25. Good wrestling, lame booking. [***]

Young Lions Cup: Karl Fredericks [10] vs. Shota Umino [10]
Consider this to be along the lines of the rest of the tournament and the last match. It was filled with energy, kind of intense, and had two guys giving it their all. These are well executed matches, even if the offense they use isn’t all that interesting. I did appreciate how this had a sense of unpredictability. While Gedo’s style means most of the tournament feels useless, the final match does hold interest. I came in expecting Umino to win considering his affiliation with Jon Moxley. I bit on his close calls. I was pleasantly surprised when Fredericks used a single leg Crab to score the upset and win the tournament in 7:17. I enjoyed this and find the generic trophy to be hilarious. [***]

Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Toa Henare, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma
Why would anyone even book this? It’s gotta be some kind of sick joke, right? Honestly, I’m not going to detail here. This was a gigantic waste of time and commentary plugged it as a kind of World Tag League preview. AS IF ANYONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE WORLD TAG LEAGUE. The only good thing here was PIETER at ringside. Owens got the win with the Package Piledriver in a lethargic 8:22. This felt closer to 20 minutes. [*}

DOUKI, Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger, Rocky Romero & Tiger Mask IV
One of the few things that I believe New Japan is booking properly is the Liger/Suzuki feud. It is a highlight of these otherwise meaningless undercard tags. Here, Liger jumped Suzuki during the team’s entrance. It was a great change of pace from what we usually get. Liger also sported a different mask. Everyone else came out and brawled outside as Suzuki and Liger went at it inside. A chair and table were brought in, with Suzuki breaking the chair on Liger’s head. Liger used a low blow to break a sleeper and then removed his mask to reveal KISHIN LIGER! THE BEAST GOD! He spit mist at Suzuki and the referee before getting a spike and nearly driving it into Suzuki. It went through the table instead. A terrified Suzuki ran for the hills. No match, but a phenomenal angle. I am so pumped for the eventual singles match.

El Phantasmo, The Guerrillas of Destiny, KENTA & Taiji Ishimori vs. Roppongi 3K, Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI
Slight intrigue here as Roppongi 3K scored a pin over GOD in a tag match. The Jr. Heavyweights could be the next challengers for the heavyweight straps. Because New Japan’s tag division is unbelievably shallow. But if RPG3K can get a great match out of the Guerrillas, it’ll be their greatest accomplishment ever. KENTA has bad hair. Anyway, this started out pretty slowly but picked up around the time ELP and Ospreay previewed their upcoming Jr. Title math. I may not like either guy, but both are quick and can pump up a tag like this. RPG 3K ended up with another cradle victory over the champions at the 9:40 mark. Good enough for what it was. [**½]

BUSHI, EVIL and SANADA vs. Kazuchika Okada, Kota Ibushi and Robbie Eagles
Okay, now we’re getting to the good stuff. BUSHI and Robbie Eagles were here as the junior boys who can eat the pin. EVIL is set to face Ibushi for the G1 briefcase at King of Pro Wrestling where we’re also getting Okada/SANADA 17. Or something like that. This match was a lot of fun. The interactions between SANADA and Okada are tired, but I liked what we got from Ibushi and EVIL. BUSHI has shown he can mesh well with CHAOS boys so I expected that. The treat here was Robbie Eagles. He blended in seamlessly and had some dynamite (AE-DUB) exchanges with SANADA. He was the fresh element that CHAOS/LIJ tags could use. He lost to Skull End in 13:50 and I found myself really enjoying this. Easily the best thing on the show to this point and it made me a little happier about the KOPW card. [***½]

Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi
Shingo won their G1 meeting (***¾). These are two guys who you know what to expect from. They’re going to hit each other hard and give you a match right out of the NEVER Openweight Title picture. This worked in that same vein. It was like something out of the G1 Climax. Two dudes beating the hell out of each other. Their chemistry is clear and on paper, they’re the kind of wrestlers that are meant for one another. This was played out to be evenly matched and I appreciated that. They should be on the same level right now. Down the stretch, the near falls and drama picked up with the crowd way invested in what was going on. Shingo nearly moved to 2-0 over Goto on multiple occasions, including with the Pumping Bomber. Goto withstood whatever Shingo threw at him to win with the GTR in 20:27. On par with their G1 outing. I feel like they can hit the next level with another opportunity but this remained at the very good level. [***¾]

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito [c] vs. Jay White
White beat Naito in their disappointing G1 (**¾) contest to win the B Block. I’ve noted before how most of Naito’s 2019 has seen his body give up on him. He can only turn it on for a handful of matches. It further hammers home how badly they missed the boat on him at WK 12. Anyway, this was a match that went 29:47, which is still somehow shorter than most New Japan main events. But it felt longer. There was the slow methodical Jay White pace that we’re used to, but Naito didn’t do what Ibushi and Tanahashi did to make that not feel like it drags. The character work in this delivered and that’s an aspect that I usually enjoy more than most. The action just didn’t match up at all. It had a solid closing stretch. Pointing that out in a NJPW match isn’t anything new or notable though. White won the title with Blade Runner. This was good but it never even sniffed being great. [***¼]

The final score: review Average
The 411
So the Destruction cards go three for three in terms of wildly average shows. Exactly what I expected. There are good things like Shingo/Goto, the Young Lions, and KISHIN LIGER. I thought the LIJ/CHAOS tag was fun and the main event was solid. Everything else is an easy skip and none of the matches on this show were what I’d call great.