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Puroresu Love: NJPW: Destruction ’09 – 11/8/09

November 17, 2010 | Posted by Mike Campbell
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Puroresu Love: NJPW: Destruction ’09 – 11/8/09  

November 8, 2009

Like most of my current puro reviews, this is courtesy of the fine people of IVP Videos (link can be found in ‘The 411’). Head over there and pick up stuff and get 20% off of your total order by using coupon code 411mania at checkout.

New Japan tries to end 2009 with a bang! Tanahashi tries to regain the title that he never actually lost! Tiger Mask tries to regain the title that he actually lost! Wataru redeems himself to Nagata, and Makabe and Iizuka go to war in a chain match!

Yuji Nagata . . . beats on Tomohiro Ishii like he’s a loan shark and Ishii is a few days late in paying it back.
Tiger Mask . . . looks like he could be a really fun rudo rather than a boring and mediocre babyface champion.
Shinsuke Nakamura . . . finally bridges the gap between being the next top heel while retaining his ability in the ring.

As far as openers go, this is rather innocuous. There’s nothing outright bad and nothing especially good. There are a few bright spots here and there but the four of them just mostly plod along until the ref counts to three, with precious little in the way of any storytelling, although it was nice to see Gedo hitting the ring to prevent Devitt’s hot tag. There’s also a fun moment when Gedo intercepts Devitt’s big dive. Taguchi also plays spoiler a bit when he breaks up their superbomb and leaves Gedo open for some double teaming, but Jado neutralizes Devitt and Gedo gets the pin on Taguchi with the Gedo clutch. Their work is competent enough, for the most part, but the match never makes it out of first gear.

This goes a bit long, considering it’s mostly a squash, but it winds up being better than the opener. It seems weird to say that they play the cat and mouse game, with TAJIRI as the cat, but that’s what happens. TAJIRI will wear down Okada and try for the buzzsaw kick, and Okada always manages to dodge it and take advantage of the opening to try to get something going, but he never gets too far. It’s also fun to watch TAJIRI take apart Okada’s arm, with a nice mix of kicks as well as various armbars and submissions, and when he can’t put Okada down with the big kick, TAJIRI settles for La Magistral cradle to get the win. It was fun to watch, but it could probably have gone half as long and not been any worse for wear.

When Nakanishi stays on the apron, this actually isn’t too bad. It starts off rather fun, with Chono roughing up Omori on the floor, and the Lyger/Koji exchanges also aren’t too hard on the eyes. Once it settles down with the control segment on Lyger it starts dragging. Omori and Nakanishi are as uninteresting as it gets. It’s weird to see the fans come alive like they do when Chono gets the hot tag and starts cleaning house. He’s the most physically limited person in the match, but Chono using his three spots is the only time the fans really wake up. AKIRA seems to be the first one to learn that trading chops with Nakanishi aren’t going to work. AKIRA takes him down with a dropkick to the knee and then an enzuigiri. I still think a punt to the junk is better, but it’s a good start. Team Legend tries to set up AKIRA to pin Nakanishi with the Musasabi, but his partners save and AKIRA winds up in the Argentine Backbreaker and has to give it up. All things considered, this could have been a lot worse, but that doesn’t mean this is necessarily good.

I thought these two teams had a better match in them after their September stinker, and here it is. They stick to the formula and everyone plays their roles perfectly this time. Yano and Ishii are a great pair of dick heels, especially with the way Yano sneaks in the hammer, and how they bait Nagata into the ring so Yano can use the hammer on Inoue’s ribs. Inoue is good for the most part. His double spear to let him make the hot tag to Nagata was a bit questionable, as he’d just had his ribs worked over by Yano’s hammer and Ishii had some fun with a chair, but Inoue didn’t do any of the stupid things that he tried last time around.

With Inoue letting the heat build, it’s that much more fun when Nagata finally tags in and starts throwing kicks at Ishii’s chest and elbowing him in the face. Ishii is Nagata’s whipping boy just like Wataru was for CHAOS. The only real mark against this match as a whole is Nagata and Ishii’s contrived and overdone strike exchange that goes nowhere. But even that’s not too horribly long, and features Ishii hitting a headbutt, which clearly takes Nagata by surprise. The finish is also very well done with Nagata spiking Ishii with the brainbuster and Inoue earning his stripes by intercepting Yano and holding him in the Triangle Lancer so that Nagata can finish off Ishii with the bridging backdrop. If these two teams had this match in September, they’d have stolen the show. ***1/4

MISTICO © vs. TIGER MASK (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title)
The booking here is fairly questionable, TM needed a sixth title reign as much as he needed the fifth, but this isn’t as bad as it could have been. The fans don’t really seem to care all that much about Mistico except to see him fly all over Sumo Hall, and Mistico gives them what they want to see. That leaves TM to be the buzzkill and to keep Mistico on the ground, TM smartly works over his leg to accomplish that. Considering that Tiger Mask has always been a super babyface character, it’s impressive to see how good he is at sharking at the leg. He doesn’t go all out and use the post or ropes or anything like that, but he looks like a fairly natural rudo. Aside from the leg story, there isn’t much more to the match except a nice finish where TM escapes La Mistica and hits Mistico with one of his own, and then follows up with an armbar to regain the title. Mistico’s loss should have been used to create or cement someone as a star (Devitt, Taguchi, and Milano all spring to mind as better, and fresher, champions) rather than giving TM another vanity run as champion. But the match itself isn’t too bad.

This was fine as long as it was Anderson in the ring taking punishment. Anderson was taking decent bumps and the strikes looked good. Bernard wasn’t bad, but he and Bubba were trading punches that looked like they were afraid of breaking their nails. Bubba and Devon also didn’t seem to feel like bumping any more then absolutely necessary. Like the last tag match, this is mostly by the formula, although the gaijin team of the top heel faction in the company probably shouldn’t have been in the role of Ricky and Robert. Anderson makes the hot tag and Bernard cleans house for a bit and Bad Intentions seem to be on the verge of winning the titles after Anderson hits the Gun Stun and they hit the Magic Killer on Devon, but Bubba pulls Anderson to the floor and they brawl (“they” don’t so much brawl is it is the Dudleys beating them down) to a double ring out. The booking is fine as far as setting up a rematch between the teams, but I’m can’t say that I’m especially eager to actually watch it.

The question has been answered! Is Masato Tanaka so awesome that he can even carry Goto to something watchable? Not on this night! This is worked like most of Goto’s other big matches that I’ve seen. There’s nothing as far as any real story goes, it’s got the contrived sequence of extended attempted lariats and ducking, and both guys finishers get dumped on and treated like afterthoughts.

The first minute or so of this looks promising, they start off with a nice brawling sequence and go to the floor and Goto sends Tanaka into the guardrail and then spin kicks him into the crowd. But once Goto gets into the ring, they cool things down in a hurry. Even Tanaka seems to be dumbing things down. A lot of his control segment is typical CHAOS brawling on the floor with a few props shots thrown in for good measure. That works fine for tag matches on the undercard, but in a high profile singles match on the last big show of the year I expected to see more out of him. Tanaka’s offense gets better after he warms up a bit, he uses some nice elbow shots as well as a super backdrop, but just after that it’s time to start pissing on the Sliding D. Of course, flawed Tanaka still leaves Goto in the dust. Aside from the lariat sequence, all he really has are a couple of nice backdrop suplexes (mostly thanks to Tanaka selling them the same way he did for Nagata), and his usual three spots (elbow from the top, neckbreaker, and the Shouten), and that’s about it from Goto.

However, it’s the Sliding D treatment that absolutely makes this match unbearable. Keeping in mind that Tanaka spent most of 2008 running roughshod over New Japan with this move, by the end of the match it looks like it’s barely worthy of finishing a young boy. Tanaka hits the first one soon after the super backdrop, that’s not horrible on its own, and Goto gets a nice pop from kicking out. But that gets followed by one to Goto’s back and then a regular one for another near fall. A fourth one gets countered into an armbar, and not nearly as smooth as Nagata’s counter the year before. Tanaka gets a near fall with a rolling elbow and a fifth Sliding D finally puts Goto away. This isn’t Misawa using a standing elbow, the running elbow, a one-two combo, etc. to finally put down Kobashi. This is Tanaka doing his finishing move on five separate occasions. In addition to Gedo and Jado, I’ll add Goto to the list of guys whom I hope working with Tanaka will rub off on, just as much as I hope that working with Goto for an extended length of time won’t be rubbing off on Tanaka.

This is your typical Iizuka chain match. It’s mostly brawling, blood, and the occasional moments of creativity, which about all you can really expect in these matches. The best moment is Iizuka’s hesitation to link up, so Makabe takes him down and puts on an armbar, which allows the ref to hook the chain to Iizuka. There’s also a nice moment when Makabe is making a comeback and charges for a lariat, only for Iizuka to yank him back and hit him in the throat with the chain. Iizuka tries to sneak in the glove and eats a chain lariat for his trouble. There’s the usual KO finish, although instead of being choked out with the chain, Makabe hits the King Kong knee drop on Iizuka and lets the ref count him down for ten. The rest of this is about what you’d expect. They brawl all over the arena, and Honma even takes a few shots from Iizuka, both guys bleed, and Iizuka dies at the end.

Although this doesn’t hit the same high as their February match, this is still head and shoulders above Nakamura’s decision match with Makabe. It’d be easy to give Tanahashi all the credit, but Nakamura is good throughout the match as well. He finally seems to have found the bridge between being the Chono-like heel as well as still putting on a good performance in the ring. Instead of simply throwing kick upon kick at a single limb, like he was Makabe’s arm, Nakamura will hit Tanahashi with a reverse suplex and wait for him to stir before he throws a knee into his ribs. Early on, Nakamura takes him down and instead of showing off his mat skills, he gets Tanahashi into a compromising position and then puts the boots to him. There’s another smart moment when Tanahashi hits a shoulder tackle while he’s on the apron, and Nakamura charges at him, knowing Tanahashi will try it again, and he gets the knee up and knees him in the shoulder.

The big negative to the match is that they’re both rather inconsistent their selling, and it never really feels like the limb work truly matters. It’s always fun to watch Tanahashi go after his opponent’s knee, as this isn’t any exception, but it never really feels like the knee work is more than just filler to allow Tanahashi to get in offense, and it doesn’t help that Nakamura never really saw fit to sell the knee to any great length. The only real thing the knee work seems to build to is Tanahashi’s Cloverleaf, but the Cloverleaf comes as a surprise counter to Nakamura’s flying armbar, and despite a decent fan reaction, the Cloverleaf is only good for Nakamura to show his mat prowess and counter the hold back to an armbar.

There are also a few points when Tanahashi goes nuts. After Nakamura’s big knee to the ribs, Nakamura picks up Tanahashi for an inverted backdrop suplex, which he no sells and pops up, for no real good reason. Their finish falls into the category as well, Tanahashi wipes out on the High Fly Flow, and jumps back to his feet, Nakamura hits a kick to the face to take him back down and hits the Boma Ye to finish him off, it’d have been more sensible for Tanahashi to just stay down and let Nakamura hit the Boma Ye when he tried getting up. But, as annoying as things like that are, they’re the exception rather than the rule. This is mostly a fun, and logical, match, and heel Nakamura finally showed me something. ***

The 411: On the whole this is a rather fun show, if you can block the tag titles debacle out of your mind. Two of the biggest negatives from the September show, Nakamura and Inoue, are two of the big positives to this show. There’s nothing really blow away phenomenal, but this is consistently fun. IVP Videos
Final Score:  7.3   [ Good ]  legend

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