(1) Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV & Mascara Dorada beat BUSHI & Yohei Komatsu & Fuego in a six-man tag match. Really fun, quick opener. I can't wait for New Japan to pull the trigger on Yohei Komatsu - or whatever it is they do for a Young Lion to become a regular New Japan star. He is awesome and the crowd loves him. As with most of his matches, he was once again the highlight here. Also with most of his matches, he took the loss here, getting pinned by Mascara Dorada with a top rope corkscrew somersault senton bomb. Finally Dorada gets to look good, and it's at Yohei's expense.
(2) Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Ryusuke Taguchi beat Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Captain New Japan in a six-man tag match. Pretty good stuff here but nothing amazing. I like it when Captain New Japan actually gets to look good in a match and not like a total goofball. He managed to get in a few good moves on Kojima, including a top-rope headbutt. Of course, the fun couldn't last for the Captain, as Kojima put him away with a lariat in 9:05. Fine match.
(3) Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI beat Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka via DQ. The finish came when Iizuka used the Iron Fingers on Yano causing the DQ at 10:04 - ten minutes too long if you ask me.
At least YOSHI-HASHI didn't get pinned. In fact, his inclusion in this match actually brightened things up a bit, albeit only momentarily. Nagata's inclusion in the Yano vs. Suzuki match at "Dominion" was probably the best this feud is ever going to get. There was post-match beat down on Yano again.
(4) Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata beat Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma. Double clothesline by Makabe to start things off. Nice. Shibata's shoulder is taped again - not a good way to go into G1. Shibata hit some brutal forearms into Honma's face in the corner. Super stiff. Honma fired back with a last hope lariat. Makabe and Goto got into a lariat competition. Makabe won and lariated Goto inside out, with Goto landing awkwardly on his face. Ouch. Honma dropped Goto with a sick brainbuster. I mean really sick. Goto landed straight down onto his head. Honma went for his top rope headbutt and...missed. As (almost) always. Goto finally put Honma away (of course) with Shouten Kai at 10:29. Honma takes yet another pinfall and loses just a little more hair. After the bell, Makabe ran wild on Shibata and Goto, taking them both out.
(5) Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi & El Desperado beat Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley in a six-man tag match. Naito kept his balance this time as he posed on the turnbuckles. That's a good sign. Shelley, Tanahashi, and KUSHIDA each tagged in and wrenched Ibushi's arm. Ibushi eventually kicked Shelley in the chest to cut them off. A cool spot was when Tanahashi got stuck lying across the turnbuckles - like how Nakamura sets up his opponents for the running knee in the corner - and Ibushi did a backflip kick.
Later, KUSHIDA faked a kick, Ibushi ducked, and KUSHIDA kicked his arm out and then put him in a kimura. Also cool. Ibushi went to tag Naito, but Desperado pulled him down from the apron and tagged himself in. It looked like the Time Splitters were going to finish off Desperado with a double team move - KUSHIDA went to the top ropes while Shelley held Desperado, but KUSHIDA jumped outside onto Naito, leaving Shelley in the ring with Desperado. Desperado pushed Shelley into the ref, but Shelley stopped himself before bumping the ref. When he turned around, Desperado kicked him square in the junk and rolled him up for the win at 10:56. Interesting heel tactics used by Desperado to win the match. Not sure what they're leading to with that. Desperado vs. Ibushi again? Really fun match with a lot of fast action as expected.
(6) Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga & IWGP HVt. tag champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows) beat Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada & Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov in an eight-man tag match. The story of the match (for me) was CHAOS underestimating the Bullet Club, who came out to win. Whenever a CHAOS member tried their trademark poses or moves, the Bullet Club were there to cut them off. Koslov tried his Russian dance kicks on Tonga, but Anderson broke them up. Rocky's repeated corner lariats were cut off by a bicycle kick form Anderson. Fale was ready for Nakamura's Boma Ye and managed to avoid it each time. Just no luck for CHAOS on this night.
A funny spot was when Chaos members each took turns in wrenching Tonga's arm - just like Shelley, KUSHIDA, and Tanahashi in the previous tag match. The finish came when Rocky kicked out of a TKO by Anderson. After quick involvement by members of both teams, Rocky and Anderson were left alone in the ring. Anderson hit a Gun Stun and then Anderson and Gallows put away Romero with their tag team finisher at 14:33. Overall, a fun match with the Bullet Club coming out of it looking like the more prepared, serious team. They came out to win and they got the job done.
(7) Bullet Club's Yujiro Takahashi beat NEVER Openweight champion Tomohiro Ishii to capture the NEVER Title. After multiple ref bumps, Bullet Club interference, an exposed turnbuckle, and a low blow, Yujiro Takahashi finally defeated Tomohiro Ishii to become the Never Champion in 21:41. Ishii did a great job in making Takahashi look like a formidable opponent. Despite the Bullet Club interference and endless cheating by Yujiro, it was actually a sequence of high impact suplexes that put Ishii away. In what looked like it was going to be the finish, Ishii kicked out of Yujiro's Bukko Nuki German after receiving a low blow and running into an exposed turnbuckle.
Takahashi followed that up with a lariat and Tokyo Pimps but Ishii kicked out again. After a Bucklebomb followed by Miami Shine, there was no more kicking out for Ishii. Earlier, Ishii looked to have the match in the bag, but the Bullet Club came out and broke up the pin and attacked Ishii. Eventually, Okada and Nakamura came out to even the odds. Ishii's selling of the shoulder, and his back after taking a superplex was masterful. He sold his shoulder being hurt better than Wade Barrett on Smackdown, and Barrett was legitimately hurt! Great match! Excellent heat for Ishii from the crowd.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Good show, overall. Nothing spectacular, just good all round. Ishii vs. Takahashi was match of the night, followed by Shelley, KUSHIDA, and Tanahashi vs. El Desperado, Ibushi, and Naito. It was great to see Ishii main-event a show, as he was incredible as always. Ishii's selling has got to be the best in the business at the moment. Thanks for reading. I'll see you at G1!
[ LINK: Additional perspective HERE via PuroresuSpirit.com ]
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