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Pantoja’s NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam In MetLife Dome Night 2 Review

September 6, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Evil Shingo Takagi
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Pantoja’s NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam In MetLife Dome Night 2 Review  

NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam In MetLife Dome
September 5th, 2021 | MetLife Dome in Tokorozawa-shi, Saitama | Attendance: N/A

Giulia and Syuri vs. Momo Watanabe and Saya Kamitani
More pre-show STARDOM stuff! Giulia and Syuri are the Tag Champs and look cool while having a fun gimmick used in their entrance. Meanwhile, Watanabe and Kamitani were great on night one. They’re already the two best teams in NJPW. Like yesterday’s match, this had a great pace to it and a lot of energy. The champions worked like a well-oiled machine and isolated Kamitani with crisp double team moves. Kamitani still got in some major hope spots, including going up for the Phoenix Splash only to be brought down by a Kimura from the top. She also busted out a poison rana in her attempt to finally make the tag. Watanabe did get taken out with Northern Lights Bomb, leaving Kamitani to submit to the Stretch Muffler in 11:31. Why am I wasting my time watching these New Japan dweebs? I should just watch STARDOM because they rule. [***¼]

The Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb vs. Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii
Opening match Okada will always feel weird. He’s suffering through the problem that arises when you build your ENTIRE company on one guy being at the top. When he’s not champion, he feels aimless and when he is champion, it feels stale (his 2019 reign was ATROCIOUS). But remember, Gedo is a big-brain “genius booker.” Ishii and O-Khan kicked this off, giving us something different from last night. Okada had his neck taped up as he went after Cobb outside, only to have it lead to a sweet belly to belly on the floor. Other than that spot, Okada seemed to take today off a bit, which makes total sense. O-Khan and Ishii handled the heavy lifting, which made for a pretty good battle of tough dudes. Ishii eventually took the loss after being hit with the Eliminator in 12:45. Quality little match here to continue Okada’s struggles against The Empire. [**¾]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori [c] vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
This division is the pits, huh? Even with decent teams, they are just in endless loops fighting each other. This was good on a Road to Castle Attack show in February (***½). The challengers earned the opportunity by winning the Super Jr. Tag League, which I quickly lost interest in. This was a lot of what we’ve already seen from these teams, which is the biggest problem in itself. We’ve seen it a ton, so it’s tired at this point. I did like ELP having leg issues, as he hobbled for most of the match and even used it to help showcase his cockiness when he couldn’t walk the ropes and decided to just taunt instead. The Bullet Club boys used every underhanded tactic they could think of, while Desperado got in some sweet hope spots. Eventually, things dragged on until Pinche Loco gave us new champions in 20:28. It was good and nothing more. Let’s move on until there’s another title change that nobody cares about. [***]

IWGP Tag Team Championship: The Dangerous Tekkers [c] vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. SANADA & Tetsuya Naito
Speaking of tag divisions that are the pits, it’s the heavyweights. At least this is a new variation on what we’ve seen a ton of. One thing I appreciated about this match was that it didn’t fall into the tired tropes of this kind of bout. There wasn’t a lot of just two teams battling as one rested outside, which is an advantage of the tag formula since there are so many bodies who can be fresh. I just still can’t bring myself to care much about these divisions, which makes it hard to get invested in the matches. It’s like a lot of what SANADA does. It’s technically fine but pretty hollow. After a long 26:43, YOSHI-HASHI survived the loose Skull End but Taichi blind tagged in on the moonsault. HASHI ate a thrust kick and Black Mephisto to lose. The expected result and guy getting pinned in a match that was good but kind of just existed. [***¼]

It’s time for your G1 Climax blocks!

A Block: Kota Ibushi, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Zack Sabre Jr., Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Yujiro Takahashi, KENTA, Tanga Loa, and the Great-O-Khan.
B Block: SANADA, Taichi, YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, Jeff Cobb, EVIL, Tama Tonga, Chase Owens, Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi.

That is laughably bad. I get that they can’t bring in people from out of the country due to the pandemic but maybe work with another Japanese company or use junior heavyweights. Or at least trim it down. Don’t do as many people so that it isn’t bogged down. Less is more. Owens, Guerrillas and Yujiro is going to be rough to get through. Like, there are going to be NINE Tanga Loa singles matches. Why torture your fans? That B block is also likely the worst I’ve ever seen but watch Tanahashi still have like 7 bangers.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Robbie Eagles [c] vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Easily my most anticipated match on these shows. They went at each other right out of the gate, looking like two guys with a violent history rather than who they actually are. They had plenty of counters for each other but then fought outside where things stayed aggressive. Hiromu continues to have no regard for his body despite his various injuries. Eagles put the target on Hiromu’s leg, including with an impressive looking springboard dropkick to the knee that set up the Ron Miller Special. Hiromu survived and then did one of his wild sunset flip bombs off the apron to swing the momentum. Despite Hiromu throwing everything he had at the champion, somehow Eagles kept surviving. He came back and did the 450 splash onto the leg, adding more damage to set up another Ron Miller Special. Hiromu scratched and clawed to the ropes only to get pulled back into the center of the ring, where he was forced to submit after 24:07. A hell of a match and I always appreciate how companies that aren’t WWE make tapping out something you don’t have to be ashamed of. It’s not embarrassing to submit. Great match and it feels like they have a better one in them. [****]

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi [c] vs. EVIL
EVIL in World Title matches has been rough to say the least. He was out with his House of Torture buddies because that’s an aptly named group (outside of SHO). EVIL used a fair bit of shenanigans throughout, with chairs and his friends at ringside coming into play. That led to LIJ members also showing up and giving us something straight out of the Attitude Era in terms of overbooking, but far less enjoyable. The biggest advantage was that the Saitama crowd was hot. I honestly don’t have all that much to say about the match itself. When it was just EVIL and Shingo going at it, things were fine. It’s a broken record at this point but EVIL working in the 10-15 minute area was far superior to him trying to go 30, especially since it leads to so much smoke and mirrors. Shingo won with Last of the Dragon at the 30:20 mark in a match that was good but never sniffed being great. [***]

The final score: review Average
The 411
A pretty good event from New Japan that was solid from top to bottom, with only Hiromu/Eagles being something worth going out of your way for. That and the STARDOM ladies. Otherwise, it’s just pretty good throughout.