wrestling / TV Reports

Kevin’s NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2019 Review

October 15, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW - King of Pro Wrestling - Jushin Liger vs. Minoru Suzuki
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Kevin’s NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2019 Review  

NJPW King of Pro Wrestling
October 14th, 2019 | Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 9,573

King of Pro Wrestling is the one show between the G1 Climax and Wrestle Kingdom that feels somewhat important. At least most years. This card suffers from several rematches that I don’t care about. However, we do get the dope Suzuki/Liger battle I’ve been waiting for. The big news is that Jon Moxley couldn’t make it to the show so he was stripped of the United States Title. The card was reshuffled a bit.

Fair warning, this won’t be a detailed review as I’m pressed for time with postseason baseball being a thing.

El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Roppongi 3K
This was hyped as the El Desperado comeback match. This was originally a six man tag but is one of the card changes. An odd call considering the Super Jr. Tag Tournament is coming up. We’ve seen this matchup so often that I don’t want to even try finding the history of my ratings. I feel like it ranges between *** and ***½. This was more of the same. They work smoothly together and put on a competent and enjoyable match. Nothing new here but that’s okay. SHO is a beast and I can watch him wrestle for hours. He has loads of potential as a junior ace. Kanemaru spit the mist after Shock Arrow was countered and Desperado hit Pinche Loco to win in 10:44. [***]

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomoaki Honma vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
Weird to see Hiroshi Tanahashi so early on the card. This was a celebration of his 20th anniversary. Tanahashi was his usual good self and Toru Yano was entertaining. But this felt like Makabe at half speed and since he’s usually moving at that pace, this was quarter speed. Honma continues to kind of just be there. He doesn’t serve much purpose other than being a popular guy on undercard tags. It’s a fine spot for him. The Yano low blow spot got flubbed as Honma didn’t get over in time to block it so it came off awkwardly. Other than that, this was inoffensive. Tanahashi hit High Fly Flow on Yano to win in 9:43. The double Kokeshi was the highlight. [**¼]

DOUKI and Taichi vs. Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito
Oh, great. The Naito/Taichi feud. It is a rough one. They’ve produced like, one good match together. At least Shingo is here. I don’t have much to say here. Shingo was fun. We got t-shirt Naito who doesn’t put in the effort. Which I expected. A cheap DQ finish when Taichi used the microphone stand as a weapon after 9:00. Nothing to see here. [*¾]

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Minoru Suzuki
Easily the most hyped I’ve been for a New Japan match in months. We got Battle Liger for this one. This has been the most heated rivalry in NJPW in a long time so when it opened with grappling, I wasn’t for it. I wanted a violent war. It did work to frustrate Suzuki as Liger was besting him at his specialty. That led to the use of a steel chair and the more intense stuff I came here for. From that point on, this was great. I really got into them just slapping the hell out of each other. Liger wasn’t backing down and did everything he could to hang with Suzuki in a strike exchange. Even though you could tell he was fading, he still fought valiantly. Suzuki eventually put him down with the Gotch Piledriver in 17:39. This bordered on great and was mostly the kind of fight I was hoping for. Suzuki bowing to Liger after the match was a nice touch. [***¾]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay [c] vs. El Phantasmo
ELP is 2-0 against Ospreay in New Japan, beating him in the BOSJ (***½) and Super J-Cup (***). Though I’m not a fan of either guy, I got the feeling that their best was still yet to come. And that may still be the case. This wasn’t it. Not that this was bad by any means. The first half or so is some of the best work I’ve seen from Phantasmo. Ospreay was also on his game and putting on quite the show. Phantasmo sent Taiji Ishimori away to make sure this was one on one. However, he spent the back half of this match doing the usual BS that hampers his matches. I’m okay with underhanded tactics and such. But when it is the crux of nearly every match you have, it gets tiring. I also never believed that the title was changing hands and they never got me to bite into any of the drama. No way was ELP going 3-0 against Willy. The champion retained with Storm Breaker in 27:58. A pretty good match that would’ve been better if they cut down the shenanigans and shaved off about 10 minutes. [***¼]

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI vs. Jay White, KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi
This show feels long already and this isn’t exactly helping things. KENTA started his New Japan run hot but has cooled off and put on a stinker with Kota Ibushi at Destruction. The interactions against Tomohiro Ishii were the best part here. Jay White against Hirooki Goto hasn’t really lit the world on fire and that didn’t change in this one. But then they decided to give us Yujiro and YOSHI-HASHI. That’s just useless. Yujiro fell to the GTR after 12:27. This was a match that happened. It worked well enough to build the feuds. PIETER was the show stealer. [**½]

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship No Disqualifications Match: Juice Robinson vs. Lance Archer
Really happy to see Lance Archer get this opportunity. I never liked him as a singles guy outside of a few matches in the G1 24. But he killed it in this year’s G1 Climax. Oddly, they opted to keep the No DQ stipulation that was meant for Moxley/Juice. That worked for their story but this has nothing behind it. Archer did well with the stipulation because he’s a beast. He looked like he enjoyed using chairs and bringing tables into play. And Juice is one of the best underdog babyfaces on the planet. That made for a very good dynamic. The fans were way behind Juice and he survived a lot. That included the Blackout onto a pile of chairs. A furious Archer slammed Juice’s head into chairs and then won the title with the EDB Claw in 14:56. I liked this though I do think a straight up match might have worked better. Still, I’m happy for Archer. [***½]

David Finlay returned and I love it.

G1 Climax Briefcase: Kota Ibushi [c] vs. EVIL
EVIL earned this by beating Ibushi during the G1 Climax (***¾). Unlike that match, which was kept under 20 minutes, this started slow. You could tell they were trying to go long. It isn’t EVIL’s strong suit so I’m not surprised at the sluggish opening. Once it picked up, it felt much more like the G1 meeting. Hard hitting stuff and some sweet exchanges. Though it was mostly even, Ibushi had to fight from behind at certain points. The issue was that it was another case where the outcome was painfully obvious. EVIL isn’t headlining the Tokyo Dome and they never even made me feel like that might happen. That sucked any drama out of this, which kept it from being as good as it probably could have been. EVIL kicked out of Kamigoye because that’s just what people seem to do these days. A second one kept him down after 24:09. Another match that was very good but a severe lack of drama hurt it. [***½]

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. SANADA
Takes a deep breath. Okada beat SANADA at Wrestling Dontaku 2016 (***¼), the G1 26 (***), G1 27 (***½), New Beginning 2018 (***½), New Japan Cup Finals 2019 (***½), and Wrestling Dontaku 2019 (***). SANADA won in the G1 this year (***¾). Considering they were coming off of their best match, there was hope here. Instead, they opted to try and go for the epic. There was no need for this to nearly go 40 minutes. Nobody believed that SANADA would walk out with the title so there was no drama. It also suffered from the worst case of Okada formula I’ve ever seen. The pacing was atrocious and most of this plodded along at the end of an overly long show. As negative as I sound, this wasn’t an awful match. The stuff they did was crisp and almost effortless at times. I did like Okada busting out a Michinoku Driver at the end. He won with the Rainmaker at the absurd 36:21 mark. I’m beyond over this pairing. And this is why Okada as champion is beyond played out. We’ve seen this over and over. This title reign has been boring as hell. [**¾]

The final score: review Average
The 411
Five of the nine matches got at least ***. That’s good. It capped out at ***¾ so nothing was great and it got hurt by a lackluster main event. I’ve felt that a lot of New Japan has been hollow and uninteresting this year but this post-G1 run has been really rough. Maybe Gedo can put the title on Ibushi in the Dome and get something different going for the company. Things need to freshen up up and down the card.