Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, July 07, 2017

NJPW G1 Special in USA - Night 2 Live (as it airs) Blog

So the first of these didn't go too terribly, so I figured WHY NOT. Why not do it again. He never knew when to quit.

1. Jushin Liger/David Finlay/KUSHIDA vs. Yoshitatsu/Yohei Komatsu/Sho Tanaka

Boy Yoshitatsu sure does have an epic entrance song for a guy loathed by everyone in attendance. It's still hard for me to distance Finlay from his father. Any comparisons will be unfavorable. I like how Liger works Komatsu, and it seems to wake up Komatsu more than when up against other guys. Liger hits a nasty baseball slide dropkick and Komatsu flies gloriously into the rail. Tempura Boyz also nicely catch a KUSHIDA flip dive, and I really dig how Tanaka fights KUSHIDA over the hoverboard lock. I'm happy as Tanaka catches a KUSHIDA handspring into a german, just because I get so damn tired of handsprings. They must be punished. Finlay throws a great back elbow...but then he throws another that's not as good...and then does a silly diving European uppercut. I was hoping for more Yoshitatsu gloating, rubbing it into the fans how he knows they hate him, but he doesn't care. This is about as base level as you can get for a trios match. I see that Meltzer gave it ***1/4 which just means that a random CMLL episode must be total ecstasy for him. Nothing will be remembered about this match. ***1/4 seems fairly memorable to me.

2. Kenny Omega vs. Jay Lethal

This starts great as Lethal has his ribs taped up and Omega just kicks him hard a couple times right in the tape, then does a front suplex right onto the apron. Fuck your ribs, Jay. They do some do-si-do stuff, Lethal gets into the OWA in about the least convoluted way I've seen, then Omega somehow plausibly makes the lethal injection look good. Lethal didn't take forever setting it up either, and it actually looked good! Then Lethal warms my heart by nailing Omega with three straight topes into the barrier. I like when guys capitalize on big moves. Omega gets his leg worked over and after a dragon screw Lethal yells "He's a dead man!!" and then proceeds to measure his distance, hit a slow motion handspring, and get caught in a backstabber. I take back me liking the move a few sentences ago, the lethal injection remains the stupidest finisher in wrestling. I cannot think of another instance where you'd go in for the kill by walking momentarily on your hands away from an opponent. I saw Keith Hernandez on a 1986 episode of Dick Cavett, and he was talking about when they started allowing women in the locker rooms. And on the very first day it was allowed, Keith came walking out of the showers naked, on his hands. IF 1986 Keith Hernandez had delivered a totally nude lethal injection (the terrible finisher, not some gross euphemism for penetration) to the first woman allowed in a locker room, that would have been the only acceptable lethal injection ever performed. Lethal gets caught by the transition dragon suplex, because, you know, he points to the ropes opposite his opponent, yells that he's going to slowly bounce upside down off of them, and then gets caught. Lethal matches have become an exercise in getting caught doing stupid things. He has strikes that are good enough to make him maybe the most frustrating wrestler in the states, because he keeps insisting on working his matches entirely around his awful finisher. And speaking of awful finishers, both men then carefully balance while doing a couple reversals based around the one wing angel. If Omega can do a bad handspring into getting his opponent somehow on his shoulders...I think we could reach nirvana.

3. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii

I love this total style clash match-up, and love Sabre for coming out and trying to slap Ishii. Sabre foolishly playing into Ishii's one strength is great, and then Sabre ups things by headbutting him. Sabre takes some shots and finally kicks Ishii in the bicep and Barnett is talking about his "Lancashire style" and it's pretty great. Sabre eats a big shoulderblock and nice delayed superplex, then kicks Ishii's bicep again, lands a great short uppercut and then hits a killer jumping northern lights. THAT looked freakish, like some mutant Alexander Otsuka move. Ishii finally gets wise and catches one of those kicks aimed at his bicep, but Sabre rolls him through with a bridge. Here's a neat thing about Sabre's bridge: he pins Ishii's shoulders down by standing on his armpits. That's some fine detail work right there. Sabre locks on a great twisty sub and keeps grabbing each Ishii limb that gets close to the ropes, great moment where the crowd kept getting louder every new iteration of the sub, and finally Ishii reached ropes and lay there holding his arms and body. Sabre leaps at Ishii to try to lock on his nasty wristlock, comes close, opts to hit the penalty kick...but modern offense cannot hurt Ishii, and he barrels through him with a lariat and delayed brainbuster. Satisfying match, fun to see Ishii out of his brainless stiff exchange pattern.

4. Juice Robinson/Dragon Lee/Jay White/Titan/Volador Jr. vs. SANADA/Hiromu Takahashi/Tetsuya Naito/BUSHI/EVIL

I look up and think Takahashi's tron video said "Tickling Time Bomb", which would be a decent gimmick. BUSHI is wearing the super cool black/red gear, looking like a final boss ninja. SANADA continues to warm my heart by dropkicking Titan during his handspring. Death to all hand springs! EVIL mostly sucks, but American fans still like him because he has that Japanese credibility. SANADA plays lucha maestro by locking on a couple Nieblinas and JR chooses the first strike of the match to gush over as a sliding kick by Naito that whiffs. Boy, Titan has been in this whole match. There are 4 other guys, buddy. Naito takes Juice's leaping sidekick better than any man has taken it, and then Juice throws a great lefty lariat on SANADA in the corner before hitting a couple cannonballs. Our first strike exchange of the evening actually belongs to Lee and Takahashi, which is like the least interesting thing they can do to their bodies. Having them match up in a 10 men is kind of pointless as we've seen them in multiple long singles matches, there's really only so much they can do during a 90 second exchange. White throws some cool off balance strikes that shouldn't look as good as they do, and SANADA continues burrowing his way deep into my heart by being the only guy doing interesting things on the apron. JR starts talking about Tony Garea while BUSHI takes forever setting up a missed move off the top. Juice hits a weird/cool short left hand to KO Takahashi off the apron and Jay White finishes things by running through a few 1999 Power Plant graduate finisher moves.

5. Tama Tonga/Tanga Loa/Hangman Page vs. War Machine/Michael Elgin

This match and one other I'm weirdly excited for are the ones that Meltzer did not give a ***+ rating to, which makes me more excited for both of them. Has someone less threatening ever been given a cool nickname like "Hangman"? "Christ Stomper" Stephen Hawking. "Throat Slasher" Eddie Deezen.  Yeah this match kinda blows so far, but no more than our first trios. A lot of cracks showing through in this match, guys waiting in position for other guys, delaying moves that are supposed to get interrupted...but then Tonga takes a crazy fast bump over the top to the floor, and Page gets hiptossed into Loa (while Loa is draped over the ropes) and I'm in. The War Machine springboard clothesline german suplex is cool - indy as hell, but cool. But then we do some lame "hit me so I can show you how tough I am" stuff that takes me back out. BUT, Hanson hits a big top rope cannonball and I'm back. Rowe always does a couple cool things in his matches, here I dug him headbutting Tonga's arm as Tonga threw a forearm, and he also bumped a Page lariat bigger than it probably deserved. Match was okay.

6. Roppongi Vice vs. Young Bucks

Pretty early "fuck this match" as they do a bunch of goofy as hell missed somersault legdrops, then everyone throws a dropkick at once and the crowd ERUPTS in applause. Then they all do the worst phone booth fighting you've ever seen. The rest of this is going to have to be incredible to get it to its ****1/4 designation. Romero always has an incredible knack for moving in far enough so that he never catches his opponent on dives to the floor. They always end up flying just over his head, in the same way Mundo has been overshooting his twisting moonsault for a decade now. Bucks always do things I like, and I'm probably higher on them than most humans (at least ones that run in our niche nerd circles), but they're better than what this match has been. This has been a bad Eliminators "hold still so I can do spots" match, with dodgier execution. "A jumping piledriver on the apron should spell disaster for Nick Jackson." I would think that, wouldn't you, JR. But even with another piledriver back in the ring, it wasn't enough. There are several more moves that don't finish Nick Jackson. They cut to someone in the crowd marking out, and that someone MAY have been Marty the Moth. He looked like he was having the time of his life. Man, I do not need a "We're having a WAR!!" strike exchange with Romero. Matt just completely no sells a Romero dive, which makes sense, it looked terrible. But it looked no worse than any Romero tope, and those all get sold. So it's weird for him to just take this one and decide "Wait a minute these are terrible, I didn't get hurt at all!" and pick him up. They do an insane Meltzer driver to the floor (and toss in a nice tribute to Herb Meltzer, which was genuinely nice), then they do another in the ring that doesn't hit at all. This match was terrible. I mean really, really terrible.

7. Cody/Yujiro Takahashi/Bad Luck Fale/Marty Scurll vs. Briscoes/Will Ospreay/Kazuchika Okada

Scurll found a way to make me lose interest during a Mark Briscoe sequence. That's a special kind of boring right there. This has more stalling than an '89 Rougeaus match, but is nowhere near as entertaining. This match and the prior one are finally making this live report seem like a terrible idea. Man this match is bad. Ospreay the only one with a raised heart rate. Everything in this match is taking so long, and guys are selling without taking hardly any moves of any kind. Yujiro gets his head snapped nastily on a Jay neckbreaker, then bites Jay's thumb, hits a couple light sliding dropkicks and thankfully Jay levels him with an elbow. I think guys are trying to work comedy spots? Nothing is very funny, but I think that's what's happening. That's the problem with having offense that looks like shit, is it's never quite clear if you're just having a laugh. This match is just interminably long. Ospreay hits a big flip dive and hits a flipping...knee? elbow? on Cody. Cody sells it by doing his finisher moments later. God this match was fucking awful. Here's hoping Billy Gunn can save this show!

8. Billy Gunn vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

The crowd boos Gunn because they're shitty. I've never been a Billy Gunn fan, but this kind of match-up seems way more interesting that seeing another wankfest rematch against any number of NJ natives. And Gunn is great doing all this slow annoying stuff that must be infuriating the live crowd. Showing off his height during lock-ups, yanking Tanahashi's ponytail during a headlock takeover, and then going after Tanahashi's taped up arm. Single arm DDT, smacking it into ring posts, and the fans hate it!! Gunn even punches Tanahashi out of the air, but Tanahashi doesn't bump his missed axe handle like Arn. Gunn is awesome punching Tanahashi while holding his ponytail. The man is wearing a ponytail in a wrestling match, it needs to constantly be used against him. Gunn gets his trunks pulled down and awesomely continues working with his trunks down. Only weenies give a shit if their underwear is showing. Tanahashi finally goes on his first run of offense, and exclusively uses the arm we've seen get worked over the past 10 minutes. Flying forearm, hip toss, leaping elbow, I mean literally all the moves he did at first opportunity used his bad arm. Tanahashi only knows how to work New Japan Main Event Epic and it is embarrassingly on display here, though has been hinted at in the way he completely disappears during trios matches. Not a good match, but a match that should have been good, and all it would have taken was a LITTLE bit of effort from Tanahashi. He showed no interest in selling, showed no interest in being engaged while in holds, clearly put half ass into his offense. Terrible performance.

9. Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii

I'll be honest, I'm probably not in the best mood for this match. The Tag match was terrible, than 8 man match was embarrassing, and that Tanahashi match was one of the more phoned in performances you've seen this side of an Orton main event. 30 minutes of NJ epic is not going to be what I need. But let's see if they can win me over. But 10 minutes in we've just predictably got a lot of "I'll show YOU how tough I am, hit me!!" junk. The floor brawling was inspired but too brief. Ishii will take a DDT right on top of his head, and he'll do the same with Omega's stupid high jump bulldog. The nastiest part of the match so far is a flip dive from Omega, caught valiantly by Ishii, who also gets his head smashed into the concrete upon catching him. We build to a big stupid table suplex spot, with some amusing stuff like Ishii biting the top rope to prevent Omega from throwing him. Does Ishii have strong teeth strength as one of his known attributes? Because it comes off kind of funny for a guy to try to Jaws his way through things? If you were suplexing Richard Kiel, this would be a familiar spot. Here it felt like an odd joke that was told moments before the joke teller got head-dropped through a table. It's amazing how Kenny Omega is so good at making huge suplex spots mean so little. Top rope dragon suplex against Okada, a dragon suplex off the apron through a table here, they all mean as much as any other move done in his matches. Big deal, I saw a 20/20 piece on backyard wrestling 15 years ago and a kid took a burning hammer on a picnic table in a park. There's a good chance it meant more to whatever match those two idiot teens were having. Finishing stretch sees Ishii dumped on his head by the snapdragon, kneed in the face, and go down with fighting spirit to the end. Good for them. This sure was New Japan-y.

I never know when to quit. This show was fucking awful. I liked the Sabre/Ishii match and the 10 man, couple other matches had their moments...but man there were some dogshit awful performances peppered throughout this show.


Blogger Davey C said...

"Cody sells it by doing his finisher moments later." literally made me laugh out loud, so at least I got some benefit from you suffering through this show. Thank you

5:19 PM  
Blogger Jose Corona said...

"Not a good match, but a match that should have been good, and all it would have taken was a LITTLE bit of effort from Tanahashi." And this is supposed to be some sort of hall of fame wrestler? Fuck that. Compare and contrast this to the Negro Casas lucha sprints. Negro doesn't have to put in the effort, but he does in spades. That's the difference between a wannabe and a real hall of famer.

5:55 AM  

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