NJPW ISM 1/30/11
January 30th, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
January 30th, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Sellout crowd here in Korakuen for New Japan tonight with this show building us up towards the big 2/20 Sendai show where Hiroshi Tanahashi will make his first title defense of his 5th IWGP Heavyweight title reign. Tonight we decide just who he's going to face as the ex-champion Satoshi Kojima face Togi Makabe in a number one contender's match in tonight's main event. We were also originally supposed to have Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi defend their newly won Jr. tag team titles against TAKA Michinoku and NOSAWA Rongai, but unfortunately TAKA injured his shoulder a weak before this match so his replacement tonight will be Taichi. The opening match was cut from the TV broadcast due to time constraints, but Tomoaki Honma beat Kyosuke Mikami in 5:38. Let's jump right into the rest of the show!
Jushin Liger/Koji Kanemoto/Tiger Mask IV vs. Tomohiro Ishii/Gedo/Jado
Well atleast this six man makes sense storyline wise as TMIV and Ishii have been feuding while Liger and Koji are old rivals of Jado and Gedo. As soon as Liger hits the ring we're off and everyone's brawling immediately before the bell even rings. Ishii has been wearing a mock black version of the Tiger Mask ever since he lost a Mask vs. Hair match to TMIV at Fantasticamania last week, dragging this feud out a bit longer. Ishii immediately tries to rip Tiger's mask off, but as usual fails. Jado tags in briefly to lay a few shots in then tags Gedo in. TMIV is just working the basic babyface-in-peril bit here with all three men trading quick tags and isolating Tiger Mask in their corner. Tiger starts the comeback by tossing IShii off the top and laying stiff kicks into Ishii's back. He tries to rip the fake mask off of Ishii but Gedo comes in and quickly breaks that up. Liger tags in now and he quickly disposes of Jado and Ishii with backbreakers. Ishii comes back with a powerslam and tries unmasking Liger now, but Kanemoto comes in to break it up. Liger fights off both Gedo and Jado and makes the official tag to Kanemoto, who wipes both of them out with a big double dropkick. Koji get's the face wash boot into the corner on Jado and then gives him a Falcon Arrow for a quick two count. Jado rakes the eyes though and tags Ishii back in. TMIV tags back in now and deliers the Tiger Driver for a two count. Brainbuster attempt by Ishii is blocked and Tiger slaps on a sleeper hold as Liger and Kanemoto wipe out both Jado and Gedo with simultaneous slingshot planchas to the floor! Ishii almost takes TMIV's head off with a lariat and nearly rips his mask off completely. TMIV comes back with some stiff kicks but then Jado slides into the ring and rips the mask right off of Tiger Mask's head, which is enough for the ref to disqualify Jado's team at 9:57. Decent opener here that was all about continuing to build the Tiger Mask IV-Tomohiro Ishii feud and did just that solidly before the DQ finish. **½
After the match Ishii runs out with another one of TMIV's masks. He throws on a backup mask and grabs the mic, cutting a promo on Ishii.
Giant Bernard/Karl Anderson/Tama Tonga vs. Manabu Nakanishi/Strong Man/King Fale
This is flat out chaos to start with all six men immediately beginning to brawl as the bell rings. The camera cuts to the front row of the audience and we see that none other than GHC Heavyweight champion Takashi Sugiura from rival promotion NOAH is in attendance! Bernard is scheduled to challenge Sugiura for that title on NOAH's big 3/5 super-show as Sugiura has gone through pretty much everyone in NOAH and is looking for new challenges from outsiders. Nakanishi and Bernard start us off legally in the ring with an exchange of big shoulder-block attempts. Nakanishi gets sent to the floor and Tama Tonga flies out after him with a plancha! Not to be outdone Karl Anderson follows both of them out with a somersault plancha! Bernard then climbs to the top rope to come off but Strong Man takes him down instead. To say Strong Man sucks would be an understatement, as somehow he and Nakaknishi became a popular tag team in 2010 and managed to win tag team of the year in the Tokyo Sports awards despite generally being shit when it came to match time. Imagine Rob Terry from TNA basically, but uglier. Strong Man overpowers Anderson for a bit back in the ring, fighting back from several forearms and delivers a huge fallaway slam. Fale and Tonga tag in now as of course the two "Samoans" have to wrestle eachother. In a great display of athleticism Tonga leaps from the mat directly to the top turnbuckle and delivers a somerault senton to Fale! Anderson tags back in now but he telegraphs a brainbuster and Fale counts with one of his own. Bernard and Nakanishi in now and they trade some meager chops and forearms. Both men try for a choke slam but neither can hit it so Nakanishi hits Bernard with a back drop driver instead. They hit a weak clothesline-chopblock combo on Bernard, but only for a two count. Fale tags in now and gets triple-teamed for a bit as things have broken down now with everyone fighting in and out of the ring regardless of tags. Nakanishi, Strong Man and Fale all put their opponents in simultaneous torture racks in an impressive display of strength. Eventually Fale can't fight them off anymore however and Bernard hits the Bernard Driver for the pin at 12:37. Not a bad match either, Anderson and Tonga both tried to bump around and make it fun but it was really just your average six man match that you could see on any New Japan card. **½
After the match Bernard confronts Takashi Sugiura in the front row and tells him that the GHC Heavyweight title is coming home with him to New Japan, which the crowd supports with a big Bernard chant. He give Sugiura the thumbs down and Sugiura slaps his hand out of his face and exits the building after the match. Great moment there.
Backtage Bernard cuts a promo on Sugiura and NOAH sticking their noses into New Japan's business. Bernard claims to be a sleeping dog that Sugiura has awakened, and he's going to take a chunk out of Sugiura's ass. Afterwards Sugiura gives a brief interview in Japanese, presumably responding to Bernard. Glad to see New Japan so willing to co-promote for NOAH's big show.
Shinsuke Nakamura/Takashi Iizuka/Toru Yano vs. Yuji Nagata/Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Wataru Inoue
Tenzan and Iizuka have been feuding on and off for what seems like forever, but I'm not sure I like Nakamura just getting stuck in this random six mans all the time lately, he deserves better. Iizuka has one of the more entertaining gimmicks in the company, having a personal vendetta against one of the commentators and always slapping him around like a bully before every match. As soon as Tenzan hits the ring we're off as everyone begins fighting outside of the ring and into the crowd. Nakamura starts laying in stiff kicks and knee strikes to Nagata in the crowd while Iizuka choke Tenzan out with an electrical cord! Pure chao to start here as you'd expect with these guys. Yano and Inoue begin fighting inside of the ring briefly until Inoue follows him to the floor with a big plancha and then slams Nakamura into the steel barricade. Inoue suplexes Yano back into the ring and tries the first pin attempt of the match for a two count. Things start breaking down with Yano ripping the turnbuckle pad off while Iizuka slams a chair repeatedly onto Inoue and Nagata. Inoue evades a tiger suplex attempt and manages to tag Tenzan in who starts to clean house, laying big chops into Iizuka and getting the crowd fired right up for it. Nakamura tags in and tries to take Tenzan out with a roundhouse kick, but Tenzan blocks it with a headbutt and tags Nagata in. Nagata is all fired up now and starts laying big kick into Nakamura in the corner. Both men start trading forearms and spinkicks and then Nagata hit a brainbuster for two. Nagata hits the old-school slingshot suplex off the top rope on Nakamura and then slaps on a crossface submission! Yano break it up though. Big inverted scoop powerslam from Nakamura to Nagata! Nagata then gets a huge knee into his chest in the corner and a big powerbomb from Yano. Nakamura finishes Nagata off with the big Boma Ye shining wizard knee-strike at 11:36. This was pure chaos here but it fit well with the style of all six men. This started off hot, cooled down a bit in the middle, but then Nagata and Nakamura brought it all home with a hot finish. I'll take it. ***
After the match Nakamura attacks Nagata again with the Boma Ye kneestrike, infuriating Yuji and possibly setting up a feud down the road. Everyone gives the usual post-match interviews backstage, Nagata in particular is still enraged at Nakamura.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
Prince Devitt/Ryusuke Taguchi (C) vs. NOSAWA Rongai/Taichi
This was originally supposed to be TAKA Michinoku and NOSAWA Rongai, but unfortunately TAKA hurt his shoulder pretty badly a week before this and had to cancel, leaving them with Taichi a last-minute replacement. NOSAWA is still a big Juggalo, so it's not very difficult to hate him. Oddly enough NOSAWA would end up no-showing the big 2/20 show in a few weeks, deciding instead to drunkenly steal a taxi-cab. No, I am not making that up, he really did that. Rongai is apparently taking a hiatus from wrestling now and clearly he needs to if he's still doing incredibly stupid shit like stealing taxis and driving them around wasted. Anyways, Devitt is a Golden God and everyone else is capable, so I expect him to carry this match to a reasonable amount of fun. Taguchi and Taichi start us off with your basic collar and elbow lock-up. They do a nifty little armdrag, counter exchange sequence and then Taguchi takes Taichi out with an old-school flying headscissors. NOSAWA tags in now and gets a few boos as he taunts Devitt. Taguchi and Devitt give him a dropkick combo for his troubles and then they trade quick tags, each working a wristlock on NOSAWA repeatedly. Taguchi goes for a missile dropkick but NOSAWA dropkicks the top rope out from under him and tag Taichi back in. NOSAWA battles with Devitt on the outside while Taichi locks a camel clutch on Taguchi in the middle of the ring. NOSAWA tag back in and get a quick cover on Taguchi for a two count. He applies a modified octopus stretch on Taguchi and then rolls it into a crossface! Taguchi won't give up though and NOSAWA and Taichi trade quick tag, each working over Taguchi in their corner. Devitt gets the hot tag now and starts cleaning house with big flying dropkicks, sending NOSAWA to the floor. Taichi trip Devitt up though and pulls him outside only for Devitt to give him a pele bicycle kick! Devitt lifts NOSAWA up on his shoulders and Taguchi flies over the top rope as they connect with the Doomsday Device on the floor! Back inside the ring Taguchi and Devitt continue to double team NOSAWA, hitting a front suplex-doublestomp combo that Taichi just barely is able to breakup at two. Spin kick from Devitt and he tries for a suplex, but NOSAWA counters with a DDT! Taichi and Taguchi tag back in and Taichi gets a powerbomb-rollup combo for another close two count. Taguchi hits a trio of brainbusters, never breaking his hold in Guerrero-like fashion but again Taichi kicks out at two. Taichi tries for a superplex but Devitt and NOSAWA end up getting involved and they do the powerbomb/superplex tower of doom spot with all for men. Shining Wizard from NOSAWA! 1-2--NOO! Taguchi kicks out just barely. Taguchi eats a flapjack and a pair of superkicks, but again he kicks out at two. Taichi is frustrated now and hits the Schwein (running over the shoulder belly to back suplex) but Devitt breaks it up. Taguchi comes up behind Taichi then and locks in the Gedo clutch cradle and gets the anti-climactic pin at 16:09 to retain the titles. Bit of a weak finish there to an otherwise better-than-expected match. They had to try and deliver in TAKA's absence and they did just that was a fun and perfectly acceptable juniors tag match. ***¼
After the match the injured TAKA Michinoku hit the ring and apologizes for missing the match. TAKA says in somewhat broken English that he hopes he and Prince Devitt have a good Jr. Heavyweight title match in a few weeks at the 2/20 show. He goes to shake Devitt's hand but of course TAKA being the scoundrel he is, he pokes Devitt in the eye and superkicks him. Hopefully TAKA will be fully healed for their title match as it should be a solid match. Taguchi does a little dance for us afterwards, because he is after all as his tights say, the "Funky Weapon".
Hiroshi Tanahashi/Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito/Yujiro Takahashi
I suppose this is just a way to do something with the IWGP Heavyweight champion Tanahashi while Kojima and Makabe battle it out for the number one contender's spot in the main event. Nothing wrong with that. Tanahashi and Naito start us off with a lock-up as the crowd starts chanting for both men surprisingly. They trade side headlocks and headscissors takedowns, but both men are evenly matched and able to counter each other's every move. Goto and Takahashi both tag in now and counter hiplocks. Goto elbows Naito off the apron to the floor and throws him into the steel guardrail before Takahashi is able to catch up to him as all four men are fighting outside the ring now. Dropkick off the apron from Naito sends Goto into the front row! Back inside Goto tries to fight them both off but ends up getting isolated in Naito and Takahashi's corner. Standing senton gets Naito a two count. They trade forearms and then Goto hits a stiff lariat. Tanahashi gets the lukewarm tag and cleans house on Takahashi now, hitting a flying forearm and scoop slam-somersault senton combo for a two count. He tries for a German but Takahashi counters with a big overhead release belly-to-belly suplex! Tanahashi tries for a dragon sleeper but Takahashi counters with a running powerslam and then follows it up with a big fisherman's brainbuster, but only for two. Goto tags in now and eats a lariat, letting Naito tag in with a big missile dropkick. Swinging neckbreaker from Naito and the crowd just can't help but cheer for him. Top rope frankensteiner gets Naito a two count that Tanahashi breaks up. Naito and Takahashi try the old Hardy Boyz spot into the corner but Goto just catches Naito and suplexes him back into Takahashi! He comes off the top rope with an elbow drop and then hits a bridging German suplex! 1-2--NOO! Naito kicks out. Death Valley Driver-backbreaker combo from Goto but Naito rolls him up with a lariat for two. Everest German suplex from Takahashi takes Tanahashi out as he attempts to hit the ring and Naito finishes Goto off with the Stardust Press moonsault at 13:40. All four men continue to fight after the bell. Just a fun tag match from four of the more exciting and talented members of the roster, nothing ground-breaking or anything just solid and entertaining wrestling. ***
IWGP Heavyweight Title Number One Contendership Match
Satoshi Kojima vs. Togi Makabe
Kojima was a surprising enough signing for New Japan, but when he won and held the IWGP title for several months people were shocked. Tanahashi beat him for the belt back at the big 1/4 Wrestle Kingdom event at the Tokyo Dome. Kojima actually has to earn his title rematch it would appear. Makabe immediately attacks Kojima as soon as he makes his way to the ring and we're off. Both men are brawlers at heart so that's exactly what we see here with both men brawling into the crowd and smashing each other's heads on steel signs mounted in the back of the arena! They make their way to the ring finally and trade shoulder-blocks until Makabe just starts laying in closed fists on Kojima on the mat. Kojima gets thrown into the steel guardral back outside several times but then counters with a DDT to Makabe on the apron. Suddenly Taichi shows up at ringside at hands Kojima a steel chair! He slams it into Makabe a few time and both men barely beat the 20 count outside. Camel clutch from Kojima back inside and they trade stiff chops. Kojima hits an elbow drop of the two, but only for two. Makabe tries making the comeback and tosses him out to the floor. Makabe grabs a chair now and takes out both Taichi and NOSAWA Rongai on the outside, clearly not enjoying their presence at ringisde. Back inside Kojima hits an ace crusher and both men catch their breath. Big Saito suplex from Kojima but he still doesn't go for the cover here, preferring to punish Makabe with another ace crusher off the second rope. 1-2---NOO! Makabe kicks out. Makabe comes back with a full-nelson suplex though, but Kojima kicks out. Death Valley Driver but Makabe misses a follow-up top rope knee drop and Kojima gives him a lariat to the back of the head. Brainbuster from Kojima gets a close two count. Makabe hits a sitout powerbomb, but Kojima kicks out at two himself. Makabe fights off Taichi who tries to interfere again, but is distracted long enough for Kojima to lariat Makabe and get the pin at 15:54. After the match NOSAWA and Taichi beat down on Makabe. This was a solid main event for this show and both men delivered an entertaining contest that with similar brawling styles. I could have done without the repeated interference attempts, but it didn't hurt the match either. ***¼
After the match Hiroshi Tanahashi hits the ring and Kojima makes a run for it. The commentators close out the show for us followed by the traditional backstage post-match interviews with Satoshi Kojima and Togi Makabe.
Bottom Line: A strong show tonight that helped build up to the big 2/20 show in Sendai and helped progress multiple feuds with several well-worked match-ups. There's nothing here that's going to blow you away or anything, but more than enough good to outweigh the bad as their isn't really a bad match on the show. Thumbs Up.