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Puro Reviews: Invasion Attack 2014

September 9, 2016 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Puro Reviews: Invasion Attack 2014  

NJPW Invasion Attack 2014
April 6th, 2014 | Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 8,500

Every March, NJPW holds their annual New Japan Cup Tournament. The winner gets to choose if they want a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight, Intercontinental or NEVER Openweight Championships. Usually, they’re going to pick the Heavyweight Title shot. However, Shinsuke Nakamura won the cup in 2014 and selected an Intercontinental Title shot, setting up a Wrestle Kingdom rematch with the man he lost the title to at that show, Hiroshi Tanahashi. This show is also notable to two other big moments, one being the final NJPW match of Prince Devitt and the other we’ll get to later.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (c) def. El Desperado and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Kota Ibushi in 11:47
I’ve never seen El Desperado before, I absolutely love Kota Ibushi and I detest the Young Bucks. The Bucks also hold the ROH Tag Team Titles. Everyone gets involved in some early exchanges, with Ibushi clearly being superior to the other three. Matt seems to be wrestling with a cast on his right hand. The Bucks work the heat on Desperado for a while. Ibushi’s hot tag offense sees him fly around the ring and move at such a quick, crisp pace that it’s hard to believe. The Bucks turn it around and get two on an assisted sliced bread. Kota hit a sloppy double super rana on the Bucks but to be fair, the degree of difficulty was high. Kota saves the match for his guys shortly after, but Desperado still falls to More Bang for Your Buck. Fine way to open the show. Ibushi is always really fun and the Bucks were only at like, an 8/10 on the annoying scale whereas in 2016 they’re at about a 26/10. Desperado was kind of just there and didn’t do much. ***¼

Kazushi Sakuraba, Togi Makabe and Yuji Nagata def. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi and TAKA Michinoku) in 9:39
Yuji Nagata enters this as the GHC Heavyweight Champion. Minoru Suzuki has one of the best theme songs in all of wrestling. It’s weird seeing Sakuraba with no shirt. With TAKA and Taichi being junior heavyweights, they get to take a beating, especially when TAKA first tags in and runs into a Makabe slam. Suzuki-Gun turns it around by taking things outside and using underhanded tactics like choking their opponents. Makabe takes a short heat while the heels mock Nagata. He comes in and cleans house before things break way down. Togi ends up holding Suzuki back while the juniors tap out to dueling armbars from Nagata and Sakuraba. Decent little match that accomplished the goal. **¼

NWA Tag Team Championship: Tenkoji def. Jax Dane and Rob Conway (c) in 10:36
Satoshi Kojima enters as the NWA Heavyweight Champion. Bruce Tharpe gives the NWA guys their introduction and is insanely passionate about it. Conway gets beat up in the early goings and Tharpe’s reactions to it are top notch. The champions take over and Tenzan starts to take a lengthy heat. It makes sense to do this way since you wouldn’t want your top champion to do most of the selling in a match. Kojima’s hot tag comes off well and the crowd loves him laying in the chops. Tenzan comes back in and takes out Dane but Conway breaks up the Anaconda Vice and attacks him in the corner. Tharpe gets on the apron to distract Tenzan but it backfires and Tenzan still headbutts Conway. Dane accidentally tackles Conway, leaving him open to take a Cozy Cutter, lariat and moonsault to take the loss. Solid work though Tenzan looked rough at times. Kojima and Conway were the stars here, with Tharpe adding something extra. **½

Daniel and Rolles Gracie def. Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano in 6:56
Iizuka spends time before the match handcuffing and spray painting one of the commentators. I’ve never seen either Gracie before. Right from the start, this is a wild brawl all around the ring and through the crowd. Iizuka cuffed one of them outside, leaving the other at the mercy of him and Yano. They do a lot of nothing until Gracie applies an armbar on Yano that Iizuka breaks up. A miscommunication led to Yano getting hit with the iron glove. Gracie slapped a leg lock on Iizuka and he gave up. This was awkward and really boring. I wasn’t interested in pretty much any of it. *

Ryusuke Taguchi def. Prince Devitt in 12:03
If Devitt loses, he must leave NJPW. He is all painted up for this match and though he’s trying to look intimidating, you can see that he’s fighting back tears. Taguchi is in full bootleg Eddie Guerrero mode. These guys were four time IWGP Jr. Tag Champions together, holding them for the second most combined days in history. The Young Bucks are at ringside and try to cheat, but Devitt argues with them to stay out of it. The Bucks don’t listen and pull Taguchi out. Commentary clearly says “PLEASE GO HOME” and I couldn’t agree more. Devitt argues again so they attack him! Devitt responds with a tope con hilo onto both, gaining a huge pop. With the Bucks out of the equation, the former partners go at it in a really solid back and forth match. More than a few close calls from both guys, including one where Taguchi survived Bloody Sunday. Taguchi wins with Dodon, sending Devitt off to NXT to become some guy named Finn Balor. One of the better Taguchi matches I’ve seen. The Bucks stuff made sense and led to a cool moment and the one on one work was strong. ***¼

They shake hands afterwards. Taguchi would use this momentum to a second IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title run later in the year.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI def. Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga in 8:43
Invasion Attack is a big show, yet the IWGP Heavyweight Champion finds himself in a midcard tag match. This goes exactly as you’d expect. YOSHI sells for the majority of the match and takes a beating. Okada of course gets the hot tag and does his thing. Fale does a pretty good job of trying of bully him around and get some near falls. Okada blocks the grenade and Fale blocks the Rainmaker. Fale ends up brawling outside with YOSHI, leaving Tama Tonga alone to eat all of Okada’s shit, including the match ending Rainmaker. Nothing match that was about as basic as possible. A real night off for the champion.

The real thing to note is the post-match angle. Bad Luck Fale gets in Kazuchika Okada’s face and you’re thinking “maybe they’re setting up Okada/Fale for the title.” Then, a man in a hoodie jumps in and nails Okada. He reveals himself to be AJ Styles and plants Okada with the Styles Clash. He shows off a Bullet Club shirt and says that Okada didn’t go from TNA young boy to IWGP Champion because he’s still just a young boy. Very well done as right after Prince Devitt is out as Bullet Club leader, AJ Styles replaces him.

NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii (c) def. Tetsuya Naito in 17:45
These two are just magic together. They had a classic a few months earlier at the New Beginning show and would go on to have some awesome matches in 2016 as well. This program with Ishii saw the first signs of dick heel Naito. He arrogantly slapped Ishii around early on. He has some reason to be confident as his speed gives him the upper hand. That is, until he runs into a powerslam from the champion. Still, Naito gets back in the driver’s seat and dropkicks Ishii into the corner before getting two on a Frankensteiner. Ishii starts coming back and hits a superplex. They start wailing on each other. Naito doesn’t look like it, but he goes toe to toe with the hardest hitters. In a great moment, Ishii counters a T-Bone into a DDT at the last second. The moves get bigger and better down the stretch, including a near fall on a beautiful German by Naito. Ishii starting laying in some brutal chops but runs right into the Koji Clutch. Ishii fades bur finds the will to make it to the ropes. Both guys kick out at one on separate kicks before slapping the shit out of each other. Ishii gets tired of that and just drills him with a lariat. They go into one final exchange before Ishii retain with the Brainbuster. Just a tremendous match that shows why these are two of my favorite guys in NJPW. Hard hitting, dramatic and full of great wrestling. Just what I wanted from this show. ****½

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) def. Meiyu Tag in 18:31
Meiyu Tag consists of Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata, for those unaware. Shibata starts with Karl Anderson and has control early on. Soon though, things turn into the favor of the champions. They ground and pound and beat up Goto in and outside of the ring. None of what they do is groundbreaking, but it is fine tag team heel work. When Shibata comes back in, things pick up a bit, but something about this match just isn’t clicking the way some of their others did. Meiyu Tag apply stereo submissions (a cloverleaf and abdominal stretch) for a cool visual. Anderson cuts off a crucial tag to Shibata and nearly wins. Shibata returns and they kick Anderson’s ass. Goto’s spinning heel kick and Shibata’s dropkick in the corner almost end it. Gallows pulls Shibata out and tosses him into the guardrail. He cuts off Shouten Kai but Goto still does well for himself. He blocks the Gun Stun twice but falls to the third one and loses after the Magic Killer. A good match that went too long. Their WK9 match was this cut in half and it was much better. **¾

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) in 26:49
Though I feel like their outing at WK8 disappointed, this still has a big fight feel. Tanahashi comes in with a clear game plan and it is to go after Nakamura’s leg. He’s done it before and it makes sense considering Nakamura’s Boma Ye. He’s the top babyface but I’ve said it before; Tanahashi is at his best when he heels it up. He does it at certain times and it almost always works. He draws boos while viciously working the leg, even involving the guardrail in some of it. Nakamura does a top notch job selling the leg. They get into an exchange of strikes and afterwards, Nakamura is on the ground, smacking his leg to regain some feeling. Each time it seems like Nakamura has momentum, Tanahashi is there to destroy his leg. He even hits High Fly Flow right onto the leg before hitting a second onto a standing Nakamura outside. Tanahashi is all too happy to try and take a cheap countout win here. Nakamura does hit Boma Ye, but it doesn’t have much effect. Again, Tanahashi cuts him off and applies a twisted looking cloverleaf. Some more great leg work and great selling by Nakamura throughout. Nakamura gets an armbar on but Tanahashi reaches the ropes. When they get up, Nakamura sees an opening and drills Tanahashi with a Boma Ye to the back of the head. A second rope knee and TWO more Boma Ye strikes still aren’t enough to put away the “Ace.” One final fantastic looking one does the trick and we have a new champion. Up until their G1 final a year later, this was probably their best match together. Tanahashi played his role perfectly and Nakamura’s job of selling and showcasing desperation was perfect. It’s one of those matches where you don’t need to know the language to know what the story is. ****½

The final score: review Good
The 411
A good show from New Japan here. There were some low points like the Gracie tag and the show hit a bit of a lull early on. Outside of that, this mostly delivered. The opener was solid, Devitt’s final match worked well, the AJ Styles angle made up for the lackluster match that preceded it and the two main event title matches were excellent and pretty much must see stuff.

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NJPW, Puro Reviews, Kevin Pantoja