wrestling / TV Reports

Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Soul Review 7.3.24

July 5, 2024 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
New Japan Soul 7-3-24 Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Soul Review 7.3.24  

NJPW New Japan Soul

July 3rd,  2024 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,225

NOTE: For anyone following all of my reviews, my WrestleMania Series is still ongoing. It’s something I’m doing in my free time though so reviews from 2024 (like this one) take precedence. Also, I’m up to the Manias that are like, 7 hours long so it takes a while.

I know the idea of me covering New Japan consistently at this point is out the window but these two New Japan Soul shows seem notable. We’ve got the mini tournament to determine who will be int the G1 Climax. For this night, those are the only four matches I’ll cover. I’ll do my best to review the following night in full but this is a weekend with a lot of sports, Money in the Bank, and Heatwave.

G1 Climax B Block Qualifying Tournament Semifinals: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Boltin Oleg

A G1 without my Ace would feel wrong, though this company desperately needs to try something with new stars which was never more clear than when watching a broken down Naito win back their top title because they have nobody else. By the way, these two are partners and the NEVER Six Man Champions. As you’d expect, Tanahashi worked the leg as he looked to chop his larger opponent down to size. Once Oleg got past that, he started showing off the power with things like a swinging gutwrench, though he did have to let go to sell the leg. He caught High Fly Flow and then reeled off some Kamikazes to win in 6:50. That was good stuff and I respect the risk of giving a shot to Oleg. Major upset and I really like that. [***]

G1 Climax A Block Qualifying Tournament Semifinals: Callum Newman vs. KENTA

Another chance to make a bold statement. Callum has been very good even though he’s just 21 and while I loved KENTA in his prime, he really is a far cry from that man these days. KENTA opened this with typical heel stuff like battering  Callum all around ringside and throwing him into the guardrail a bunch. They spent a long time doing this as the idea seemed to be to really sell Callum as a guy who could take a beating and survive through it all. As Callum made his comeback, we got a ref bump so KENTA could bring a kendo stick into play. He wailed on him with it and then got whatever DEFY Title he has but Callum avoided the shot and hit the Oscutter, though the ref was still down. Bringing the ref back in led to some KENTA close calls including some stiff slaps. Callum reeled off some pump knees and won with the Oscutter in 14:58. Again, a nice surprise and the right move. Good match though some of KENTA’s offense dragged and was dull. [***¼]

G1 Climax B Block Qualifying Tournament Semifinals: Taichi vs. TJP

An interesting one here because juniors like TJP are rarely included here. Speaking of, if he has a shot, then why is Hiromu not in the G1? The idea here was simple like the previous match and I think that’s why it worked. As the junior, TJP had to use his quickness to try and get anything going. Meanwhile, Taichi got to play the physical monster and it was some of his best work in a while. The brute isn’t a role he plays typically so this was a welcome change of pace and he did very well with it. That was the tone for the entire match and TJP got the crowd behind him. I liked him doing the facewash spot in the corner in retaliation to Taichi lighting him up with it earlier. TJP also resorted to some submission to negate his size disadvantage which worked because he’s a solid technician. He came close on a few occasions but Taichi beat him with Black Mephisto in 19:26. That was very good as this show keeps taking a step up and getting a bit better. Easy to follow, well executed story. [***½]

G1 Climax A Block Qualifying Tournament Semifinals: Tomohiro Ishii vs. YOSHI-HASHI

Wild to think about a G1 without Ishii. I know that he’s not a guy who wins a lot but he’s always the best source of great matches in it. I feel like I say this often with Ishii matches but this gave me old NEVER Openweight Title match vibes. They were just trading forearms and chops as if they were out to prove who was tougher even more than trying to get into the G1. These were seriously some of the hardest shots I’ve seen YOSHI-HASHI throw in his career. I don’t have too much to say because it was just a war. They battered each other to the point where they both passed out on the mat. I loved the idea that this was two old warriors trying to go out on their swords in one last ditch attempt to get into such a big tournament. Down the stretch we got bigger moves like an Ishii powerbomb for a near fall and a HASHI Codebreaker but they’d still resort to things like lariats in between. I lost it when HASHI busted out a Canadian Destroyer. They kept throwing bombs at each other until HASHI won with Karma in 26:01. A great match and probably the best of HASHI’s singles career. That said, I do think we hit some repetitive, diminishing returns on some of the close calls and big moves late. [****]

The final score: review Good
The 411
That was just what I was hoping for. Four matches that are all good,  some great bits in there, and some results that surprised me which I don’t typically get from Gedo.