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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPW Dontaku 2013

August 22, 2013 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPW Dontaku 2013  

May 3, 2013
Fukuoka, Japan

CHAOS (Gedo, Jado, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Maximo, Tiger Mask & Yuji Nagata
Maximo was wearing a skirt. He kissed Jado who then did a Flair Flop. After a bit, Tiger Mask got isolated, but that didn’t last long. Nagata tagged in and dominated. Ishii and Nagata went back and forth. Tiger Mask hit a tope suicida on somebody. Liger caught Gedo with the Thesz Press: 1…2…3

Maximo kissed everyone after the match. Nagata and the referee did not appreciate it. Liger was down, and Tiger Mask seemed rather indifferent. I would like Maximo more if he only kissed the men who wanted it. It could build to a big deal where the homophobe would start to feel left out and want the kiss.

Any match that ends with a Thesz Press is okay with me.
Match Rating: *

Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) (c) vs. Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match]
What an incredibly original matchup???

Koslov, before the match, did his usual horrible rendition of the Russian national anthem. NJPW fans, being the best in the world, stood and politely listened. The Hooligans tried to jump the champs, but that did not work. KUSHIDA hit a tope con hello. Koslov took out Shelley with a plancha. Shelley was worked over for a while. Shelley managed to hit a swinging DDT. KUSHIDA made a big comeback. Shelley hit Koslov with a tope suicida. KUSHIDA got a nearfall with a buzzsaw kick. The Hooligans gave KUSHIDA a springboard doomsday device and the a springboard doomsday knee strike: 1…2…3

This was a fine opener. The crowd seems a little dead though, and the title change is unfortunate. Time Splitters are far more interesting than the Hooligans.
Match Rating: ***

Bad Luck Fale & Prince Devitt vs. Captain New Japan & Ryusuke Taguchi
Devitt’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla jacket is a thing of beauty. That match started as a brawl. Captain was worked over for a bit. Taguchi tagged in and made a big comeback. The Captain got a nearfall on Devitt with a Rock Bottom. Bad Luck Fale hit a pair of Samoan Drops. Devitt then gave the Captain a ghetto stomp to the balls. Samoan Spike from Fale: 1…2…3

This was just a match to get over Devitt’s new heel persona after the recent turn of events. This is the start of something extraordinary.
Match Rating: **1/4

Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer)© vs. CHAOS (Takashi Iizuka & Toru Yano) vs. Muscle Orchestra (Manabu Nakanishi & Strong Man) vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) [IWGP Tag Team Title]
I wonder if this match was booked to specifically troll me. The NJPW Heavyweight Tag Title scene continues to underwhelm me.

Iizuka and Nakanishi started brawling in the crowd before the match officially started. Nakanishi and Strong Man eventually cleared the ring. Nakanishi hit a slingshot placha. Strong Man then hit a middle rope plancha. This match is weird. The match continued to be a brawl. The match didn’t really have much in the way of a story. It was just a bunch of stuff. It took a while for the champs to become relevant in their own defense. Finally, they Kojima and Tenzan ate the KES finisher. Nakanishi and Strong Man proceeded to do a lot of amusing things. They threatened to save the match. Tenzan sent Archer to the floor. TenKoji then gave Davey the 3D. Iizuka hit Strong Man with a metal claw. Kojima then killed Strong Man with a lariat: 1…2…3!

All things considered, this was way more entertaining than I expected. The fact that there was so little downtime definitely helped on that front. Everyone went into this match knowing their roles, and they all pretty much executed it as needed. Considering I didn’t care about any of the teams going into this match, I would say this would have to be considered a success. More Nakanishi and Strong Man coordinated dancing please.
Match Rating: ***

Masato Tanaka© vs. Tomoaki Honma [NEVER Openweight Title Match]
Tanaka came out with his customary Singapore cane. I don’t know how many Honma matches I’ve seen before, but considering I can’t remember any, it cannot be too many.

Tanaka quickly took out a table on the floor and placed Honma on it. Tanaka then hit a Superfly Splash through the table. Tanaka then cracked him on the head with his cane. Tanaka was in control until Honma hit a brainbuster. Tanaka came back with a superplex. Honma came back with a lariat. Another lariat from Honma. He followed it up with a sitdown tombstone for a nearfall. Honma followed it up with the falling headbutt for another nearfall. Tanaka came back with lots of strikes to the head and a brainbuster. Tanaka sells for no man. SLIDING D: 1…2…3

This was a solid midcard match. There wasn’t any big story to latch onto though. Tanaka did Tanaka stuff. Honma made a comeback that the crowd was into. Tanaka no-sold it pretty much and finished him off. I feel like Tanaka should be utilized in a more interesting way in NJPW if NEVER is not going to keep running shows.
Match Rating: **3/4

Togi Makabe vs. Yujiro Takahashi
Two guys that do not interest me. Yujiro CAN be amusing from time to time though.

Yujiro was threatening to get back in my good graces by wearing a banana in his pants. Yujiro bit Makabe’s thumb and gave him a lariat to get control of the match early on. Makabe obviously made a comeback. He got a nearfall with a snap powerslam. They ended up on the floor. Makabe dropped him with a lariat on the ramp. That looked uncomfortable for Yujiro. Back in the ring, Yujiro got a nearfall with a low blow. Makabe took out his chain. Yujiro asked him to use it, which I assume was a tactic to win by DQ. Makabe hit him with a regular lariat instead. Yujiro tried to use the chain, but Makabe caught him with a DVD for a nearfall. Makabe then hit a powerbomb, a lariat, and a diving knee drop: 1…2…3.

Much like Tanaka/Honma, this did not do much for me. The execution was fine, but this combination just doesn’t grab me. It certainly wasn’t bad though.
Match Rating: **1/2

Tetsuya Naito came out for a promo. He’s back. I’ve got nothing else. I studied French and Mandarin, what do you want for me?

Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata
I’ve never been a big Goto fan, but I’ve heard Shibata brings out the best in him. These two went to high school together, which is adorable.

Shibata went for the knockout soccer punt early on, but Goto avoided it. Shibata locked in the most violent headlock I ever saw. Goto ran through Shibata for a bit. Shibata halted his momentum with a STO. Shitbata locked in a submission similar to Okada’s new submission finisher. Goto survived. They traded saito suplexes until Shibata took Goto down with the knockout soccer punt. They traded lots of strikes. Lots of strikes. Serious, lots of strikes. Shibata got the advantage, and they fell to their knees. More strikes. Headbutt from Goto. Headbutt from Shibata. Eventually, they slapped each other in the face at the same time and collapsed…the referee did a ten count! Nobody wins. Well, everyone watching just won.

If you like pro wrestling where the wrestlers beat the shit out of each other, this is the match for you. I hear their next PPV match was even better though. This was very entertaining. I’m a Katsuyori Shibata guy.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Karl Anderson
These two had a MOTYC in the main event of the New Beginning PPV.

Tanahashi hit a dragon screw on the left leg early on. Anderson came back with an Ace Crusher on the ropes. Anderson was in control after that. Anderson played air guitar with a foot on Tanahashi’s chest. Tanahashi was able to come back by going after the injured leg. He followed that up with a High Fly Flow to the floor. Anderson came back with the pump kick on the apron. Tanahashi avoided the Gun Stun and hit a Sling Blade. Anderson rolled through a High Fly Flow for a nearfall. Anderson then got another nearfall with a sitout tombstone. Anderson hit a pump kick to the head, but Tanahashi continued to avoid the Gun Stun. He actually avoided four in a row. He then hit a Dragon Suplex and a Sling Blade. High Fly Flow: 1…2…3.

Prince Devitt and BAD LUCK FALE attacked Devitt after the match. Anderson and Tama Tonga looked conflicted, but they eventually turned on Tanahashi too.

This was pure NJPW formula where the story almost entirely revolved around the finishers of these two. Tanahashi was able to connect with the High Fly Flow multiple times, but it was the third that put him away. Anderson knew the Gun Stun was his chance to win, but he could never connect with it. The only complaint I have is that Anderson used the exact same “all the eggs in the Gun Stun basket” in his previous PPV match with Tanahashi, and he was unsuccessful again. He showed no new strategies.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Shinsuke Nakamura© vs. Shelton X Benjamin [IWGP Intercontinental Title Match]
Shelton doesn’t have too much left to offer, but NJPW has definitely used him better than ROH.

Nakamura went for the Boma Ye on the floor, but he crashed into a guardrail. Shelton then went to work on the left knee, which seems stupid. He should be going after the right knee. Nakamura eventually came back with a dropkick and multiple knee strikes. Shelton came back with a superkick and a German. Nakamura came back with a backstabber and a funplex. Shelton got an ankle lock on the injured leg. Nakamura survived and hit a diving Boma Ye!!!! He called for another Boma Ye, but Shelton caught him with a Paydirt! Shelton hit the spinning heel kick and a diving blockbuster. Shelton then jumped up to top rope and hit a superplex: 1…2…NO! Nakamura came back, but he botched the springboard Boma Ye. I guess you could say he was just selling the leg injury. They then botched something else. Nakamura went into a cocaine frenzy and hit the Boma Ye: 1…2…3

The closing sequence of this match really brought the match down for me. Whether the springboard botch was intentional or not (based on their reactions, I don’t think it was), the closing stretch looked really sloppy. It’s easy for a match to recover from a poor early sequence. Finishing poorly is really deflating.
Match Rating: ***1/4

Kazuchika Okada© vs. Minoru Suzuki [IWGP Heavyweight Title Match]
You have the cliché big fight feel for this one. The match starts out as much of a brawl than your typical NJPW main event. Okada did a clean break when he had the opportunity. Suzuki did not. These men are different! Suzuki started going after Okada’s Rainmaker arm. This went on for a while. Suzuki cackled at one point. This match clearly is not going to have the environment of the Suzuki/Tanahashi MOTY last year, but the work/dynamic has been very interesting to me so far. Okada came back, but he mocked Suzuki. They proceeded to slug it out. Okada hit a FU. Suzuki started selling the neck. Suzuki managed to get an armbar, but Okada managed to hang on to his arm for a bit before it was fully extended. Okada then got the ropes. Suzuki got an armbar. Suzuki went for the Gotch Piledriver, but Okada reversed it into an Air Raid Crash on his knee. Okada got his STF variation, but Suzuki eventually made the ropes. Okada went after the neck more. Suzuki came back with a sleeper. Okada survived, but he was on wobbly legs. Suzuki delivered a series of slaps. He went for the Gotch Piledriver, but Okada fought and fought and fought. TOMBSTONE FROM OKADA! They got to their feet and traded lots of strikes. Okada went for the neck. OKADA HIT A GOTCH TOMBSTONE!!! Geeeeeeeez. RAINMAKER: 1…2…3

This was very different main event than we’ve typically been getting from NJPW recently. They managed to combine the typical great limb work seen in Okada’s big matches, but they also added the story of Okada surviving Suzuki. I know I must sound like a broken record, but this NJPW main event featured two of the best wrestlers in the world having a great match. What more can you ask for?
Match Rating: ****

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.

Watch some NJPW for free (legally):
Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata
Kota Ibushi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (one of the best BOSJ matches ever)
Prince Devitt vs. Kenny Omega
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karl Anderson
Prince Devitt vs. Kenny Omega
Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibsuhi
Davey Richards vs. Kota Ibushi
Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Hirooki Goto vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
Mistico vs. Averno
PAC vs. Bushi
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Masato Tanaka
Prince Devitt vs. Koji Kanemoto
Minoru Suzuki vs. Katsuyori Shibata
ORLANDO JORDAN vs. Yuji Nagata

The 411: Despite not having the nuclear heat or a MOTYC that most big NJPW shows have had this year, this was another great NJPW outing. NJPW is simply the best company in the world at the moment. They're not perfect, but they are giving fans the best bang for your buck. Start watching them as soon as you can.
 
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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