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Kevin’s NJPW Power Struggle 2019 Review

November 4, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s NJPW Power Struggle 2019 Review  

NJPW Power Struggle
November 3rd, 2019 | EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan | Attendance: 5,558

I wasn’t going to review this show. I am incredibly disinterested in the New Japan product. The reason I didn’t review Crown Jewel was because I didn’t care about that show either (though I ended up kind of enjoying it). When I logged onto Twitter this morning, I read about a certain return that has me looking forward to something in this company again. Can this show deliver when I have no expectations? Let’s find out.

Clark Connors, Titan, TJP & Volador Jr. vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV & Yuya Uemura
Liger joins seven guys who failed to win the Super Jr. Tag League in this multi-man match. I haven’t seen much of TJP in New Japan but he actually feels like a breath of fresh air. He’s just different enough to stand out. This was your typical solid multi-man opener. It served a purpose but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The veterans do their thing, the Young Lions bring all of the fire, and the CMLL guys do flippy things. TJP stood out because he doesn’t fit into any of those categories. It was new. He won with the Detonation Kick in Uemura in 5:43. It was ultimately fine. [**½]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori vs. Robbie Eagles and Rocky Romero
With Will Ospreay defending his title later, Robbie Eagles was given a new partner in Rocky Romero. Most of these guys know what they’re doing out there. They can put on a competent match in their sleep. This was a strong match that was there to give the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions some shine after not winning the tournament. Eagles and Romero were solid together but nothing special. ELP doing the rope walk with Romero on his shoulders was pretty great. He hit CR2 on Rocky to win in 8L42. Good stuff though not anything that will matter in the long run. [***]

EVIL, SANADA and Shingo Takagi vs. IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki and RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Sabre Jr.
The shine has really worn off on SANADA. We’ve seen that he is a guy who is often good, not great, and his constant losses to Okada have made it nearly impossible to care about him. On the flip side, I still love Shingo and Minoru, enjoy EVIL and Sabre, and then Archer has been fantastic since the start of the G1 Climax. I liked a lot of this. EVIL and Archer had hard hitting exchanges. Sabre/SANADA was smooth as hell. And then Shingo and Suzuki was awesome. I am down for a singles match between them, which they seem to be building to. Though I don’t know when it will happen with only WK on the horizon. SANADA won an exchange of pin counters to defeat Sabre in 9:07. Maybe SANADA will win the RevPro Title at WK and Kevin Kelly will try to sell it as “HE WON THE BIG ONE” like he did when Goto won the NEVER Title. [***½]

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi vs. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI
One of these things is not like the other. What would be the WWE equivalent of this? John Cena and Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton and….um, Zack Ryder? Anyway, it’s almost impossible for YOSHI-HASHI to suck as much as he usually does because he’s in there with some great wrestlers. To be fair, he did deliver one of his best performances in months. I appreciated the callbacks to Okada and Tanahashi considering this was the venue where Okada first beat Tanahashi back in 2012. The interactions between Okada and Ibushi were as solid as you’d expect to tease Wrestle Kingdom. YOSHI nearly upset Tanahashi at one point and the fans seemed to fully buy into it. But Tanahashi kicked out and put down his lame opponent with a High Fly Flow in 10:51. A good tag match that did exactly what it needed to. [***¼]

Post-match, Chris Jericho appeared on the big screen mocking Tanahashi. He challenged him for January 5th in the Tokyo Dome and said it would be Tanahashi’s final match. The Ace accepted.

Taichi vs. Tetsuya Naito
Taichi beat Naito during the G1 (**). Naito beat him in an IC Title match at New Beginning this year (**½) and last year’s Anniversary Event (***¼). Needless to say, this isn’t a combination that lights the world on fire. I do like the spin that Naito is aggressive and Taichi is the nonchalant one. I’d say this was their best match together. It was intense and you felt an extra level of energy. That was lacking from most of Naito’s G1 run and almost every Taichi match ever. It played a big part here. I do think that it didn’t need to take two Destinos to defeat Taichi but that’s beating a dead horse at this point. I appreciated that this didn’t overstay its welcome. The aggressiveness called for a sprint and they delivered. Naito took home the win at the 12:56 mark. Probably Taichi’s best match not involving Tomohiro Ishii. [***½]

Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament Finals: El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Roppongi 3K
We’ve seen this a ton. They mat the New Beginning in Osaka 2018 (***¼), Dominion 2018 (***), Super Jr. Tag tournament last year (**½), New Japan Road 2019 (***), King of Pro Wrestling (***), and this year’s Super Jr. tourney (***). That’s also not counting multi-team matches. Suzuki-Gun attacked during the entrance, leaving SHO in a heap on the aisle. I liked that because it gave YOH a chance to shine. He got to handle a lot of the match and he’s a guy who often gets overshadowed by his partner. SHO’s hot tag was well done and they put on an entertaining match. It’s just a case of being something that we’ve seen so often. It’s hard to get excited for it. If you ‘ve only seen them wrestle a few times, you’ll probably like it more. Still, it was very good. Roppongi 3K won their third straight Super Jr. Tag Tournament with 3K in 14:13. [***½]

After the match, ELP and Ishimori attacked the winners.

NEVER Openweight Championship: KENTA [c] vs. Tomohiro Ishii
KENTA winning the title at Royal Quest was hampered by his concussion but was still good (***½). This was much better than that. It’s like the match that wanted to have at Royal Quest. It wasn’t even just having a functional KENTA that helped. This wasn’t dragged down by the Bullet Club BS that we’re used to. Instead, it was exactly what I wanted from them. Ishii being the hard hitting big match wrestler that I love and KENTA giving it right back to him while being a complete asshole. It is the roles they were meant to play. KENTA was ruthless and didn’t resort to any help. He proved that he could still deliver a great performance and do so without smoke and mirrors. He felt like the KENTA of old. There were moments when they hit each other harder than I’ve seen anyone get hit in months. KENTA retained with the Go to Sleep after 20:12. I loved this and it’s the kind of NEVER Openweight Title I desire. [****¼]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay [c] vs. BUSHI
This is a combination I always wanted more from. They mat the Global Wars UK 2016 and BOSJ 2018 (both ***¼). It’s their first meeting with the title on the line. Ospreay came out firing with a dropkick that set the tone for an explosive match. I do think this is a weird spot for the match. It feels thrown together and there’s no way BUSHI gets the title, so the semi-main event seems odd. Ospreay was in control for most of it until a ref bump. BUSHI went to desperately use the mist, only for Will to block it, steal it, and spit it back. That was a dope spot. There was another ref bump and BUSHI spit the mist properly. I liked BUSHI avoiding Hidden Blade because that move often looks like garbage. The closing stretch was wild and Ospreay retained with Storm Breaker in 16:20. Guess what? Ospreay was kept in that 15-20 minute range and put on a banger. He is in no way, shape or form the Wrestler of the Year, no matter how hard some websites and commentators try. That being said, he can still give us a show when put in the right spot like this. They went to war with a high octane contest. [****]

And now, the reason I’m interested in some of New Japan again. Will Ospreay got a microphone and ran down the list of guys he’s beaten this year. He said he beat everyone, called out anyone to challenge him, and said he’d forever be the champion. As he went to leave, the lights went out and TIMEBOMB appeared on the screen. The clock counted down to what appeared to be 62 days away, which is Wrestle Kingdom. Then a video appeared with a digitized Daryl setting off a bomb that went off 10 seconds later. HIROMU TAKAHASHI IS BACK BABY! He ripped off a neck brace and took bumps all around the arena. He ultimately challenged Ospreay for Wrestle Kingdom and I loved it. Save_Us.Hir0mu.

IWGP Jr. Intercontinental Championship: Jay White [c] vs. Hirooki Goto
Imagine following Hiromu with this snoozefest of a match. Jay White beat Hirooki Goto at Hi No Kuni (***) and Goto evened the score to start the G1 (***). I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about this. It was everything that I can’t stand about New Japan main events. Who the hell wanted to see Goto and White wrestle for 27:40? Not that it was bad because that’s not the case. It just felt overly long, bloated, and like it didn’t need to happen. Cut it to like 15 for what they were giving us. The story elements of having interference from Gedo, KENTA, and Katsuyori Shibata were all fine because they worked for the feud these guys have had. White kept the title after hitting Blade Runner in a match that was solid but too long for what they were doing. [**¾]

Post-match they continued to tease the idea of a mini-tournament or some nonsense for Wrestle Kingdom. White bragged about the win and said he would face the IWGP Champion on January 5th. When he called out Okada and Ibushi, he got Naito instead. Naito wants White on 1/4 because he wants to be double champion. Ibushi arrived and wanted the same. Okada showed up and was all like, “Have you met me? I like, never lose. These are all pipedreams.” He proposed a fan vote. Probably to desperately try and connect it to WK8 and Naito’s night back then if they really want to give him the title two years too late.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A better show than I expected. I came in thinking this would suck and feel as hollow as the rest of NJPW this year. Instead, I was treated to an enjoyable show. Had it ended before White/Goto, it would have been a standout event. But I’m glad I got a very good night of wrestling from NJPW that kept me engaged throughout.