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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPW Power Struggle 2012

April 20, 2013 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPW Power Struggle 2012  

November 11, 2012
Osaka, Japan

Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) © vs. Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title]
This should be a great opener. I love the Time Splitters. The champs attacked and isolated KUSHIDA early on. KUSHIDA eventually made his own comeback. The Time Splitters ran through the champs for a bit until Koslov dumped Shelley to the floor. Romero gave KUSHIDA a meteora and a michinoku driver: 1…2…NO! Shelley gave Romero a Sliced Bread #2. The challengers then gave Romero a Doomsday Sliced Bread #2: 1…2…3!

Fun opener. They only went about five or six minutes (which is disappointing), but the match was fun throughout. Shelley and KUSHIDA are awesome together.
Match Rating: **3/4

CHAOS (Jado, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Captain New Japan, Jushin Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, Negro Casas & Tiger Mask
The match started as a big brawl. I genuinely only know for sure who Liger, Tiger Mask, and Captain New Japan are in this match. Liger and Tiger Mask got the advantage for the tecnicos. Captain New Japan fucked it up though, and the rudos took over the match and worked him over. Captain was eventually able to escape and tag out to Nakanishi. Nakanishi ran wild on the rudos. The match broke down. The rudos eventually used the numbers game to isolate Nakanishi. YOSHI-HASHI low blowed Nakanishi and got a small package: 1…2…3.

CHAOS attacked Nakanishi after the match.

This was fine. NJPW always seems to have a short atomicos match that gets a lot of people on the PPV card. This was that. Feel free to skip this match.
Match Rating: **

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Taichi) (w/TAKA Michinoku) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata
Taguchi got so pale since I last saw him. Suzuki was coming off his amazing main event with Hiroshi Tanahash at the last iPPV. Nagata sent Suzuki to the floor with a Yakuza kick. Taguchi called for a dive, but TAKA prevented him from doing it. Taichi used a chair on Taguchi, as Suzuki sent Nagata into the crowd. Back in the ring, Suzuki and Taichi worked over Taguchi. Taichi was eventually able to tag out to Nagata. Yakuza kicks for everyone. Suzuki and Nagata squared off. It was grand. Taichi got involved, and Nagata locked him in an armbar. Nagata had an INSANE look on his face for that submission. Suzuki made the save. Taguchi tried to get involved, but he failed. Suzuki eventually gave Nagata a piledriver and tossed Taichi onto him for the pin: 1…2…3!

Suzuki and Taichi attacked Nagata and Taguchi after the match.

This match ruled for the time given. Suzuki and Nagata just have an aura about them that makes whatever they do entertaining. This won’t be the most memorable match of the night, but I enjoyed it a lot. The only downside was how much of an afterthought Taguchi was treated like here. I don’t like how NJPW makes junior heavyweights seem so naturally inferior to heavyweights.
Match Rating: ***

Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) © (w/TAKA Michinoku) vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) [IWGP Tag Team Title Match]
The champs attacked the challengers before the bell, but Kojima and Tenzan fought back and sent the champs to the floor. Back in the ring, the champs managed to isolate Tenzan, and they worked him over for a bit. Tenzan eventually hit Smith with a back body drop, and he then tagged in Kojima. Kojima ran wild and the crowd loved it. Smith and Kojima traded a couple of nearfalls. Tenzan tagged back in and hit an awful-looking diving bulldog on Archer. Tenzan locked Archer in the Anaconda Vice, but Smith made the save. The babyfaces gave Archer a 3-D. Kojima gave Smith and Archer a lariat. Tenzan went for a moonsault, but Tenzan avoided it. Archer hit Tenzan with a Blackout, but Kojima made the save. Smith then hit Kojima with a release powerbomb. Archer then connected on a moonsault on Tenzan: 1…2…NO!!! Great nearfall. Tenzan was making a comeback, but TAKA stopped him from the floor. The champs then hit Tenzan with a doubleteam powerbomb: 1…2…3.

I didn’t really dig the majority of the match, but the nearfalls down the stretch definitely redeemed it for me. The finish obviously wasn’t all that great though. Smith and Archer have not set my world on fire with their tag title reign.
Match Rating: ***

Low Ki © vs. Prince Devitt [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match]
This should be good. Devitt sent Ki to the floor early and called for a tope con hello. Ki started to run back up the ramp though. They made their way back to the ringside area. Devitt ended up on a table on the floor. Ki called for a ghetto stomp, but Devitt threw something at him. Ki got a Dragon Sleeper in the ropes. Ki was in control for a bit after that. Devitt eventually avoided a Tidal Wave and sent Ki to the floor. Devitt then hit a Tope Con Hello. Back in the ring, Ki went for the Tidal Krush, but Devitt avoided it and hit a brainbuster: 1…2…NO! Ki got a nearfall with a kick to the head. Ki got another nearfall with a middle rope ghetto stomp. Devitt hit his version of the Pele to slow Ki down. Ki came back with the Tidal Krush. Devitt then hit a ghetto stomp to Ki’s back: 1…2…NO! Devitt hit a Trouble in Paradise, but Ki came back with a koppou kick. Devitt hit a high angle reverse DDT: 1…2…NO! Ki avoided a ghetto stomp and hit Devitt with a shotgun dropkick. Ki MURDERED Devitt with a Ghetto Stomp: 1…2…NO! Another Ghetto Stomp from Ki: 1…2…NO! Devitt reversed a Ki Krusher into a small package: 1…2…3!

This was a really entertaining Jr. Heavyweight contest. Low Ki’s post WWE work on the American indies left a lot to be desired, but his work in NJPW has been consistently very strong. Devitt was his usual great self. Easily the best match on the show so far.
Match Rating: ***3/4

Laughter7 (Katsuyori Shibata & Kazushi Sakuraba) vs. Togi Makabe & Wataru Inoue
Makabe and Inoue attacked before the bell. Shibata came back with his usual stiff offense. Inoue came back with a brainbuster on Shibata, but the latter pretty much no-sold it. Sakuraba tagged in and ate a spear from Inoue. Sakuraba went for a triangle choke on Inoue, while Makabe and Shibata brawled in the crowd. Inoue tried for a Rampage Powerbomb, but Sakuraba transitioned into a cross armbreaker and then a kimura. Inoue tapped out.

Makabe and Shibata continued to brawl after the match. A bunch of geeks broke it up. Makabe and Shibata eventually started brawling in the ring.

This was an energetic, compact match. I don’t mind wrestling matches being short as long as they are fun. This was fun. Shibata and Sakuraba offer something unique to NJPW, and they are always welcome on these big NJPW shows.
Match Rating: **1/2

Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) [IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Match]
Okada is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Goto is whatever. Okada essentially has a Money in the Bank briefcase with his Wrestle Kingdom title shot in it. He is defending the briefcase here.

They ended up in the crowd, and Goto had the advantage. They made their way back to the ring with Goto still in control. Okada came back with a seated dropkick. Okada then hit a DDT on the floor. Okada worked over Goto after that. Goto came back with a release German suplex and some kicks. Goto got a nearfall with a bridging German. Okada came back with an Air Raid Neckbreaker! Nasty! Okada called for the Rainmaker, but Goto avoided it and hit a big lariat. Goto hit a wrist-clutch Drunk Slam: 1…2…NO! Okada went for the Rainmaker again, but Goto avoided it. Goto hit a head-butt, but Okada came back with a dropkick and a tombstone. RAINMAKER: 1…2…3

The biggest compliment I can give Okada is that he has now made me enjoy Hirooki Goto twice. While I personally preferred the Devitt/Ki match, this match pretty much matched in quality. Okada is the best. All hail Okada.
Match Rating: ***3/4

Shinsuke Nakamura © vs. Karl Anderson [IWGP Intercontinental Title Match]
I’m not the biggest Nakamura fan, but I love Karl Anderson to death. Thus, I’m looking forward to this much more than I would for a typical Nakamura match.

Anderson got the advantage early, and he did some of his machine gun taunts. Nakamura returned the favor. They ended up in the crowd. Anderson gave Nakamura a F-5 onto the guardrail! Anderson was in control after that. Nakamura came back with a couple of nasty knee strikes to Anderson’s head. Nakamura got a nearfall on a running knee to the gut. Nakamura delivered more knee strikes to the gut. Anderson came back with a neckbreaker. Anderson hit a Liger Bomb: 1…2…NO! Anderson then hit a spinebuster and TKO. Anderson then hit the diving neckbreaker: 1…2…NO! Anderson went for an Ace Crusher, but Nakamura reversed it into a (sort of) backstabber. Nakamura then hit a running knee to the back of Anderson’s head. Anderson hit a sit-out tombstone: 1…2…NO! Nakamura avoided an Ace Crusher and hit a running knee to Anderson’s head: 1…2…3

This match was good, but it didn’t reach the heights I was lead to believe that it would. Nakamura has a lot of charisma, but he doesn’t really do much for me in the ring. Anderson is great, but he needs better opponents to have outstanding matches.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs. Yujiro Takahashi [IWGP Heavyweight Title Match]
This is a c-level defense for Cenahashi if I ever saw one.

Tanahashi went after Yujiro’s left knee. Yujiro came back with a buckle bomb and a lariat on the floor. Yujiro was in control for a while after that. Yujiro locked in a variation of the guillotine choke, but Tanahashi made the ropes. Tanahashi was eventually able to come back with a middle rope crossbody and a dragon screw legwhip on Yujiro’s injured knee. Yujiro fell to the floor, and Tanahashi took him out with a froggy crossbody to the floor. Yujiro came back with a tope suicida. Yujiro then hit a brainbuster on the apron. Yujiro tried to win by countout, which is stupid since the title couldn’t change hands. Tanahashi made it back to the ring regardless. Yujiro then got a nearfall on a super belly-to-belly suplex. Yujiro then hit a Fisherman buster, but Tanahashi then kicked out Yujiro’s injured knee and hit another dragon screw. Tanahashi locked in a cloverleaf, but Yujiro made the ropes. Tanahashi went for the frog splash, but Yujiro caught him with a gutbuster and a gutwrench suplex. Yujiro hit a Drunk Slam and a moonsault for a pair of nearfalls. Yujiro then hit a Dominator: 1…2…NO! Tanahashi managed to kick out Yujiro’s injured knee again before he could do more damage. Tanahashi hit a high tension suplex for a one count, and Yujiro then hit a lariat for a one count. Tanahashi hit a dragon suplex for a nearfall. Tanahashi hit a crossbody and then a frog splash: 1…2…3.

This was a well-worked match, but it definitely didn’t come close to the heights that Tanahashi achieved with Okada and Suzuki earlier in the year. While I’m not in charge of the Tanahashi Fan Club, it is definitely a credit to his talent that he was able to get such a great match here. Yujiro is fine and all, but he’s nowhere near the performer that guys like Naito, Okada, Suzuki, Nagata, Tanaka, and Anderson are.
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.

The 411: While this wasn’t the best NJPW show of 2012, it’s definitely worth tracking down. There is no one match that you absolutely need to see, but most shows in America are not this consistent up and down the card. However, if you are only going to seek out specific matches from this show, I’d recommend the Devitt/Low Ki match and the main event. To sample some great NJPW matches for free, head over to the NJPW section of FreeProWrestling.com.
 
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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TJ Hawke
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