New Japan were back in action today, presenting a fairly strong Sengoku Lord card from Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya. The show had a sellout attendance of 2,200 people and a runtime of 1:46:36 (excluding entrances and pre/post matches)
Taiji Ishimori defeated Yuya Uemura in 8:02 with a LeBell Lock
Things kicked off with a fairly decent match between Uemura and Ishimori. Both men had strong showings, with the young lion Uemura stringing together some solid offence in the latter half.
Ishimori, as expected, picked up the victory, hitting the Bloody Cross before transitioning into the LeBell Lock for the submission victory.
This was nothing special but did what it needed to do – it gave Taiji a quick win and allowed Uemura to work with one of the junior division’s top talents, which will only aid his development as a wrestler.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima and Togi Makabe defeated Gabriel Kidd, Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano in 10:25 with Makabe pinning Kidd after a German Suplex
As usual, we got the string of undercard tag matches after the opening young lion match. This was a fun, 10-minute contest to start the proceedings. Yano and Taguchi added some lightheartedness to things with their usual schtick – Yano going for the corner pads and Taguchi using his ass. But the main focus was on Kidd and Makabe.
Kidd continues to shine as the top young lion in the current crop, He more than held his own against the veteran Makabe, taking all of the offence thrown at him and coming back with his own. He was eventually pinned by Makabe, who hit a bridging German Suplex for the win.
We got a pretty great post-match, as Kidd tried to start another fight, using Makabe’s legs to get back to his feet and pushing the veteran around. This was a very intriguing series of events.
Los Ingobernables de Japon defeated CHAOS in 10:31 when SANADA submitted SHO with Skull End
This was a decent (albeit uninteresting) 6-man tag. All participants are now in somewhat of a free fall following the New Japan Cup tour.
Goto hasn’t done anything of note since New Beginning. SHO lost to Shingo at Dominion, his status is yet to be revealed with tag partner YOH out injured for the foreseeable future. YOSHI-HASHI is, well…. YOSHI-HASHI. He’s just there.
The only person with any real direction is Naito, who will inevitably challenge for the Heavyweight title again after the shock loss at Dominion.
All that aside though, this was a strong outing for everyone involved. Great tandem offence from both sides and the bigger stars in Naito and Goto got some decent offence in.
It was a major surprise to see SHO take the loss here, but the goal was seemingly to give SANADA some momentum back – beating SHO was the best way to achieve that.
Master Wato, Golden Aces, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Yuji Nagata defeated Suzuki-Gun in 12:55 when Kota Ibushi pinned DOUKI after a Kamigoye
The main purpose of this match as to build toward the inevitable singles rematch between Nagata and Suzuki – which it did. The two elder statesmen tore into each other from the get-go. Suzuki laughed off some of Nagata’s shots. Nagata took everything Suzuki was giving him and fought back just as hard. It was pure, unbridled violence.
Ibushi got the win in the end, pinning poor DOUKI with a Kamigoye. This will most likely be the set up for a rematch with Dangerous Tekkers for the heavweight tag belts.
Kazuchika Okada defeated Yujiro Takahashi in 13:43 with a Cobra Clutch
Let’s not beat around the bush here. We all knew who was winning this one. Yujiro has done nothing of note for a number of years, nobody bought him as someone who could beat New Japan’s golden goose. And New Japan did nothing to change this viewpoint, which really damaged the match.
Things started out slow, in the way that most Okada matches do. Then Gedo got involved and Yujiro got a nearfall. These shenanigans really don’t work well when the crowd aren’t allowed to be vocal. The finish was pretty uninspiring, with Okada getting the win with the Cobra Clutch.
While the submission was a nice change of pace from every match ending with the Rainmaker, it’s quickly become stale. It can only be applied in one way, there aren’t a lot of ways to avoid it.
All in all, this was quite the letdown. It had the potential to be somewhat decent, but it was overbooked with a flat finish that came too long after the interference.
Shingo Takagi defeated El Desperado in 17:03 with Last of the Dragon
29th NEVER Openweight Champion Shingo Takagi makes his 3rd successful defence
I think this was the first time I’ve bought into the possibility of Shingo losing this title. For a fairly big portion of the match, Takagi struggled to string together any major offence. The challenger was brutally efficient in his targeting of the champion’s leg, locking in the stretch muffler on multiple occasions and hitting strikes when he was at a disadvantage.
Shingo eventually got the win with Last of the Dragon, but Desperado lost nothing in defeat. Great stuff all around.
EVIL defeated Hiromu Takahashi in 33:57 with EVIL
71st IWGP Heavyweight Champion/25th IWGP Intercontinental Champion EVIL makes his 1st successful defence
They had the opportunity to do something truly brilliant with this match, and they fumbled it. What should’ve been a violent sprint fuelled by emotions turned into a clumsy, near 35-minute contest that was plagued by unnecessary shenanigans.
EVIL was handed his first defence after Dick Togo got involved and finished off what was left of Hiromu. The champion hit Darkness Falls and EVIL in quick succession to retain and was confronted by Tetsuya Naito in the post-match. The former champion demanded his rematch, saying EVIL was on borrowed time. Hopefully, the eventual rematch results in EVIL dropping the heavyweight title, a belt he shouldn’t have been anywhere near to begin with
All in all, this wasn’t a terrible match. But when there were so many elements to be built off of, it’s hard not to see it as a disappointment.
All in all, this was a decent show. Everything accomplished what it needed to, nobody looked bad. Shingo vs Desperado was easily MOTN and continues Takagi’s excellent record as NEVER champion.
My only real criticism would be the length of the main event. For me, EVIL works best in explosive sprints rather than longer, ‘epic’ confrontations – the mistake of having him in huge, 30 minute+ matches has been made twice now. I’m hoping that changes when we get the rematch with Naito.
What did you think of the show? Let us know!