wrestling / TV Reports

The 411 NJPW King of Pro Wrestling Review 10.13.14

October 13, 2014 | Posted by TJ Hawke

October 13, 2014

Tokyo, Japan


Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga) vs. Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata, & Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma)
The match immediately started as a big brawl. Things settled down, and Honma got worked over by the Bullet Club. He eventually tagged out to Makabe who made a brief comeback. He was then worked over though. Kota Ibushi then made the real comeback for his team. He took a stupid bump for a Tonga spear. Tonga looked to be cutting him off, but the match broke down into a brawl again. Kota gave Tonga a high kick and a Phoenix Splash: 1…2…3

This was a pretty solid start to the show. I thought they could have worked a more fun pace and not lean on heat segments so much for such a short match, but it was fine enough. NJPW seems committed towards pushing Kota as a serious threat in the heavyweight division. That is good news for sure.
Match Rating: **1/2


Chase Owens(c) vs. BUSHI [NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship]
BRUCE THARPE!!! YES!!! THE GOAT!!! Owens was wearing a beanie and headphones around his neck. I’m not familiar with Owens at all, but I feel like that’s what wrestlers do when people tell them they need to convey more personality.

Owens attacked BUSHI from behind to start the match to establish for everyone that he is indeed a rudo. BUSHI quickly came back and hit a tope suicida. Owens cut BUSHI off in the ring and then worked him over. Owens looked sharp. BUSHI caught Owens with a pendulum kick and then made a comeback. Owens came back with an avalanche Ace Crusher. Owens then hit a couple backbreakers that only looked okay. Package Piledriver: 1…2…3!

Tharpe said after the match that BUSHI was not a real challenger. He said they want Jushin Liger. Speak of the devil! It’s Jushin Liger in a suit! Liger put over Owens, but he said he was better. We have a title match! Not sure when! I don’t speak Japanese!

This was a very fun undercard match. It was not special or anything, but it stood out within this company. Unlike most of the NWA guys that get brought in, Owens clearly contributes something unique and entertaining to NJPW. I hope to see him more in the company and in next year’s BOSJ.
Match Rating: ***


Tenkoji (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan)(c) vs. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith, Jr.) [NWA World Tag Team Championships]
At King of Pro Wrestling 2012, these two teams had their first match against each other. The feud will not end.

Kojima got cut off and worked over by the challengers. Kojima eventually avoided a legdrop form Smith and gave him a DDT. Tenzan made a hot tag. Archer got heat for giving Tenzan some Mongolian Chops. Tenzan gave him a Samoan Drop, and Kojima then tagged back in. Archer ate the 3D. Kojima accidentally gave Tenzan a lariat. He then took a tiger suplex and a chokeslam from the challengers. Ace Crusher and a brainbuster for Archer: 1…2…NO! Archer avoided the lariat, and Smith/Archer hit their Killer Bomb: 1…2…3

Tenzan and Kojima shoved each other after the match and walked to the back separately. I’m okay with them splitting up, as both guys could use some freshening up. I wouldn’t mind Kojima getting another singles push, and I wouldn’t mind never seeing Tenzan again.

As someone who has given these two teams (and especially their matches together) a lot of shit over the last two years, trust me when I say this was actually pretty enjoyable. It almost had to be my favorite match that the two teams have had. I feel like I might be forgetting one though. Good job, fellas.
Match Rating: ***


Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka)
Kaze Ni Nare warms my heart. It almost makes me forget that Suzuki and Yano are in another fucking match together. Iizuka went for the poor commentator again, but he almost fell over and changed his mind.

Iizuka and Suzuki are a great tag team, because Iizuka takes so long to get to the ring that I’m pretty sure we get to hear Kaze Ni Nare longer.

Suzuki and Sakuraba started the match. Sakuraba almost got the cross armbreaker fully extended, but Iizuka made the save. Sakuraba tagged out but then drilled Suzuki with strikes repeatedly in the corner. Yano actually pulled him off, and Suzuki then booted Sakuraba in the face. Sakuraba and Suzuki brawled in the crowd while Yano and Iizuka took turns choking each other with Iizuka’s chain. Yano managed to bait Iizuka into an exposed turnbuckle. He then got a low blow on Iizuka: 1…2…3

Suzuki and Sakuraba had to be broken up after the match.

Suzuki/Sakuraba’s faux MMA and Yano/Iizuka’s comedy made for an interesting clash of tones in this match. I feel like the comedy got over more than the faux MMA. I wonder if anyone in the NJPW office noticed that.
Match Rating: **


The Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA)(c) vs. Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) vs. The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships]
This could be really good.

Koslov’s left shoulder was wrapped up. Only two men could be legal at once. The Splitters had a lot of success early. The Hooligans worked over Shelley for a bit. They did some of their shtick. The crowd was way more into it than I was. The Bucks then worked over Shelley. The Bucks and Hooligans were not on the same page, which gave Shelley an opening. Shelley escaped the beatdown, and KUSHIDA made a hot tag. Shelley recovered very fast and joined in. The match completely broke down. There were some big nearfalls. There were some big dives to the floor. The dive sequence was supposed to end with Koslov doing the Air Jordan, but his leg got caught in the ropes. That was frightening as all hell. I think Matt called an audible and gave everyone a moonsault to the floor. Rocky made a comeback on Matt in the ring. The Bucks went after Koslov who seemed to be clearly (and understandably) hobbled. This match rules by the by. Koslov took the springboard tandem tombstone, but everyone else made the save. The Bucks have really carried the match down the stretch. They thrive when they’re in the equivalent of tornado tags. The Splitters saved Koslov from More Bang for Your Buck, and they then made a save. KUSHIDA caught Koslov with a pinning combination: 1…2…3!

This was one of my favorite NJPW matches this year. The only way it could have been better is if they got to the point sooner as the heat segment on Shelley just meant nothing (and it took up a fair amount of time). The Bucks and the Splitters are really carrying the juniors right now. I hope reDRagon are brought back soon (they are reportedly booked in the junior tag tournament) so that the division continues to thrive.
Match Rating: ****


Ryusuke Taguchi(c) vs. El Desperado [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship]
This crowd has been great all night. If this match delivers, we may be on our way to the show of the year.

Suzuki-gun did some MIND GAMES/TOMFOOLERY by having Taichi dress as Desperado. That allowed Desperado to get the advantage immediately. Taichi and TAKA Michinoku attacked Taguchi on the floor as Desperado distracted the referee. Hopefully this helps to make the fans care. Taguchi could get nothing going. Desperado went after Taguchi’s ass. He was legitimately targeting the ass. I’m not making some archaic homophobic joke. The Funky Monkey came back with various hip attacks. Taguchi paid tribute to his former tag partner and hit a tope con HELLO. Taguchi failed three times by this point at applying the ankle lock. Taichi hit Taguchi with a chair, and Desperado hit a variation of the vertabreaker. Taguchi came back with the Dodon and then successfully applied the ankle lock. Taichi tried to save him, but he failed. Dodon The End! Ankle lock! Desperado tapped out.

In another horrifying development for the NJPW juniors singles division, Taichi vs. Taguchi was teased for a future show.

I really do not relate to anyone who enjoyed this match. Desperado looked terrible, and Taguchi continues to look uninterested in trying to be good anymore. I have no idea why NJPW has made him champion. save_us_omega
Match Rating: **


Yujiro Takahashi(c) vs. Tomohiro Ishii [NEVER Championship]
It’s nearly impossible to care about Yujiro anymore. He also has a bad habit of almost killing his opponents.

Ishii’s shoulder is still taped up from the injury he suffered at the G1. Yujiro cut Ishii off after some uninspired moments of pro wrestling. Yujiro worked Ishii over for a while. Ishii dropped Yujiro on his head with a German, but Yujiro cut him off again right after (with a hot shot). Ishii fired up and then made a comeback. Ishii blocked a low blow attempt but then ate a lariat. They traded forearms, because this is NJPW after all. Angle Slam from Yujiro got him a nearfall. The crowd has gotten really into it by now. Ishii avoided the Dominator, but then took a big forearm. Dominator: 1…2…NO! Great nearfall. Buckle bomb from Yujiro. Ishii came back with a headbutt and a buckle bomb. Sliding lariat: 1…2…NO! Ishii blocked the low blow again, and then hit two more lariats: 1…2…NO! ISHII DRILLER: 1…2…3!

I have to give Ishii a ton of credit for this match. This match started out incredibly boring, but things picked up and the crowd got really hot as soon as Ishii started to come back. They did some great nearfalls and mostly made up for the very poor beginning. I normally dislike Ishii in the underdog babyface role, but it worked here 100%. I hope Yujiro is forgotten about for a while. We don’t need more singles matches from him on PPV.
Match Rating: ***1/2


Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura & YOSHI-HASHI)
They used Shibata’s music instead of Goto’s music. That’s just foolish.

YOSHI-HASHI was worked over for a while. He hit Goto with a blockbuster and then tagged out to Nakamura. Nakamura and Shibata traded a bunch of forearms. Nakamura won that exchange. Shibata came back with a German though. Nakamura came back. Shibata reversed a Boma Ye into a sleeper. Nakamura came back with a cross armbreaker attempt that Goto had to make the save for. YOSHI-HASHI tried to finish Shibata, but he could not put him away. The match broke down a bit. Shibata called for the PK, but YOSHI-HASHI hit a lariat. Shibata got the sleeper. Penalty Kick: 1…2…3

Nakamura and Shibata clearly teased an IC title match for a future show. I’m assuming it’s for Power Struggle, but a lot of people think they’re having a match 1/4.

I thought this was solid but not as entertaining as either tag title match on the show quite frankly. The structure was not that interesting (it was basically two singles matches happening until the final few minutes), and YOSHI-HASHI is hard to take seriously in these kinds of matches. It’s hard not to assume he’s dropping the fall in whatever match he’s in.
Match Rating: **3/4


Kazuchika Okada(c) vs. Tetsuya Naito [IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Match]</>
Okada won the title shot by winning the G1. Naito defeated Okada in the G1 though so Okada wants to defend his shot against him.

These G1 briefcase matches are hard to get too invested in when there’s little change the G1 winner is losing his shot afterwards. The idea of Naito getting another IWGP Heavyweight Championship shot at 1/4 after his failed push last year is laughable.

Naito took Okada down with a big slap early on, and it really knocked Okada for a loop. Is Naito going to be controlling this match? He certainly worked Okada over for a bit. Okada caught him with a flapjack and then made a comeback. Naito hit a tornado DDT and then made a comeback of his own. Okada came back with the Air Raid on the thigh and Heavy Rain. Okada hit the diving elbow and called for the Rainmaker. Naito escaped and hit a leaping shoulder tackle. Naito got a nearfall with a bridging German. He followed it up with Gloria, but Okada avoided the Stardust Press. Okada failed to hit the tombstone twice. Naito hit a koppou kick and a bridging dragon suplex for a nearfall. Okada hit a dropkick, and Naito took a bump on his dome for it for some reason. Okada hit the tombstone and called for the Rainmaker, but Naito avoided it twice. He couldn’t escape the bridging German though. Rainmaker: 1…2…3! I love how there seems to be a competition now for who can take the Rainmaker bump the best. Everyone is landing on their head for it now.

This reminded me of the NEVER title match in that there was not much enjoyable about the first half of the match, but they did enough entertaining stuff in the second half to mostly make up for it. I’m still not digging this Okada babyface push though. He is just far more interesting when he is controlling matches as opposed to working from behind. He does not have to be a heel obviously, but he’s not a great underdog. Naito seems to be on the rudo path if I had to guess. I can see him challenging Nakamura for the IC title at 1/4.
Match Rating: ***1/4


AJ Styles(c) (w/ Jeff Jarrett) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [IWGP Heavyweight Championship]
Tanahashi has not competed for this title in one year since he failed in his attempt to take the belt back from Okada. Tanahashi defeated AJ on the G1 Climax Finals show to earn this shot. I think the result of this match is genuinely very hard to predict. Tanahashi has main evented and won four straight Wrestle Kingdom main events. It’s hard to believe NJPW is willing main event their biggest show of the year with anyone but him. At the same time, this Bullet Club storyline has been elevated in importance to the point where you have to expect that they plan on going all the way with it. (Not to mention that Tanahashi seemingly has a match with Jeff Jarrett waiting for him at Wrestle Kingdom). I’m excited for this match if for no other reason than I am not confident I know who is going to win.

Jarrett got in Tanahashi’s face before the match. The referee was not happy that Jarrett was staying at ringside for the match. Neither man could get an advantage for a while. AJ eventually sent Tanahashi’s face into a rope and then started to work him over. Tanahashi briefly came back, but AJ mostly maintained control for a while. Tanahashi fought back and avoided a springboard move. High Fly Flow to the floor. Back in the ring, Tanahashi avoided the Clash but then got suplexed into the corner. Tanahashi came back with the Alley Oop and a Strait Jacket German for a nearfall. Sling Blade. AJ came back, but Tanahashi hit a dragon suplex. High Fly Flow to the back. HIGH FLY FLOW: 1…2…JARRETT PULLED OUT THE REF. Oooooooof. Here we go. Tanahashi was distracted by Jarrett and got hit with a Pele and then Bloody Sunday: 1…2…NO! A second ref bump. Jarrett got in the ring, but YOSHI TATSU RAN HIM OFF! YAMAMOTO~! AJ and Tanahashi traded forearms. AJ kicked him in the balls. Hollow Point! Springboard 450 blocked! High Fly Flow blocked! Tanahashi avoided a super Styles Clash and hit High Fly Flow to a standing AJ. HIGH FLY FLOW: 1…2…3!

Okada came out after Tanahashi had the belt on his waist. The crowd clearly preferred Tanahashi.

Hmmmm. It’s a good thing the result was so unpredictable as I don’t think this match had much else going for it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this a fair amount and there was some genuine excitement/tension down the stretch. They executed the nearfalls pretty well, and the timing was on point. How they got to the final five to eight minutes though is where I have my issues.

This match went on for nearly thirty minutes, but they just did not use that well. A lot of it felt like filler that only served to artificially extend the length of the match. AJ finally started to excel in NJPW during the G1 where shorter/high energy matches are emphasized. This match felt closer to his two dull PPV main events with Okada.

Jarrett’s involvement was very annoying, but I was thankful that it did not decide the finish. The Yamamoto return really took me off guard, and I’m very interested to see what he does going forward.

Considering that NJPW is rather insistent on having long matches close out their PPVs no matter what, I am glad they’re going with Okada/Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom instead of Okada/AJ. Okada/Tanahashi have unreal chemistry and have a proven track record of quality. It’s the best match NJPW has that can also reasonable serve as a main event of their biggest show of the year.
Match Rating: ***


The 411: With NJPW’s new strategy of building their year around their four biggest shows (1/4, Invasion Attack, G1 Finals, and KoPW), it puts even more pressure on these four to deliver. While I was incredibly underwhelmed by the G1 Finals this year, I’m glad to say I found this show to be much more satisfying and enjoyable. There were far fewer instances of outright bad decision making happening, and there was just a certain level of quality that every match achieved. It was an easy show to watch, which is not something you can say about every big NJPW show.

I’m a little more optimistic about NJPW’s immediate direction after this show as well. Tanahashi/Okada is basically a lock for a great match at 1/4. Nakamura and Ishii are very reliable performers to carry the two secondary singles championships for however long they have them. The Bullet Club has to be near the end of their reign of terror. The NWA gaijin even saw a huge upgrade in talent level this time around!

That’s not to say that everything is perfect. The junior heavyweight singles division has become a disaster very quickly with Taguchi leading the way. I feel like Taguchi is still capable of a good match somehow, but El Desperado and Taichi are not the way to do it. Kenny Omega cannot get here fast enough, and I hope there is more help on the way. The heavyweight tag division also could use a dramatically new direction. Perhaps Shibata and Goto being the champs for a while will help.

2014 has been an eventful but not entirely satisfying year for NJPW. There’s been plenty of quality, but they are not putting their talent in the best position to succeed as much as they were in 2013. Will King of Pro Wrestling serve as a step back in the right direction overall? I’m hopeful, but I’m not certain.


Predicted Wrestle Kingdom Card:

Hiroshi Tanahashi(c) vs. Kazuchika Okada [IWGP Heavyweight]
Shinsuke Nakamura(c) vs. Tetsuya Naito [IWGP Intercontinental]
Tomohiro Ishii(c) vs. Kota Ibushi [NEVER]
Ryusuke Taguchi(c) vs. Kenny Omega [IWGP Junior Heavyweight]
Anderson/Gallows(c) vs. Shibata/Goto [IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team]
Time Splitters(c) vs. reDRagon vs. Young Bucks [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team]
AJ Styles(c) vs. Yamamoto [ROH Title]
Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba
(And some other stuff, obviously.)


Watch some NJPW for free!
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Masato Tanaka (G1 Climax)
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jun Akiyama (G1 Climax)
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Yujiro Takahashi (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Prince Devitt (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Milano Collection A.T. (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano (G1 Climax)
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Togi Makabe (Chain Match)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto
Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Prince Devitt vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karl Anderson
Masato Tanaka vs. Tomoaki Honma
Kota Ibushi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi [Fantastic Match]
Prince Devitt vs. Kenny Omega
Sin Cara vs. Averno
Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi (With thoughts from Prince Devitt)
Davey Richards vs. Kota Ibushi
Kota Ibushi vs. KUSHIDA
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Hirooki Goto vs. Karl Anderson & Giant Bernard
Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata
Christopher Daniels vs. Tetsuya Naito
Katsuyori Shibata & Scott Norton vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Jushin Liger vs. Ebessan
Katsuyori Shibata &Wataru Inoue vs. Eddy Guerrero & Black Tiger


Thanks everybody for reading! You can send feedback to my Twitter or to my email address: [email protected] Also, feel free to check out my own wrestling website, FreeProWrestling.com. Also, check out my Best of Chikara blog and an archive of all my 411 video reviews.

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New Japan Pro Wrestling, TJ Hawke