Notes In Observance – NJPW English 2/7/17: Gunning For Osaka

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez


“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.






(Aired 2/7/17) 

The Breakdown 

– As if you didn’t already know, 2017 was off to a blazing start in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, as IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada outlasted Kenny Omega in that “Six-Star Classic” at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and successfully defended against Minoru Suzuki at the New Beginning In Sapporo. With all the ingredients set and one more show until The New Beginning In Osaka on Feb. 11, we had to hunker down and get through some filler and entertainment mostly by way of fancy tag team matches. The opening video was flashy (and Japanese!) but was right to the point about recent events.

– The Tomoyuki Oka-Henare match was your usual “Young Lions Do Battle” situation as both men were out to make names for themselves. There was some crafty mat work to begin. Commentary discussed some recent “strategic” changes to the card made by Suzuki-gun, which we’d find out more later on. Decent hook. The chemistry between these two was spot-on, as you could practically feel the intensity. Oka did German suplexes aplenty, while Henare showcased his toughness as he got to the ropes on a Boston leg crab attempt. They put over the “Young Lion dojo commitment” quite well, as this was all about the spirit of competition. They nearly killed each other with those chops and forearm strikes. It had to end somehow and it was Oka who tapped out to the Boston Crab. Once you’re over the irony of two Japanese guys exchanging the finishing move named after an American city, you’ll realize that it was smart to put Henare over. He seems to have more to gain and comes from New Zealand in case commentary forgot to mention it the previous 45,900 times, but it is what it is. Both guys shined here. Hearty stuff.

– The Jushin Thunder Liger/Yoshitatsu-Satoshi Kojima/Yuji Nagata match was interesting in that “Veterans Get Together” type of way since anything Liger gets into is well-regarded. YT was a little brash, probably in line with his “Bullet Club Hunter” gimmick, which again, just feels like D-Generation X invaded a Bullet Club merchandise stand. He went for a forearm after a clean break and was met in response by a boot. YT got knocked off the apron a few times as Liger/Kojima brought it to each other. YT appeared to pay homage to Daniel Bryan with those buzzsaw kicks, but it could’ve been out of spite too. You never know with this guy. After a big lariat, Kojima got the pin on YT. They focused on the Nagata/Kojima pairing exclusively, which made this passable quality, but ultimately nothing outstanding.

– The Takashi Iizuka/Taka Michinoku-Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Tiger Mask match was one of the changes made to the card, as it was previously set as a Six-Man Tag. As usual, Iizuka was unglued with his entrance that went for the fans, but with restraint via a Michinoku leash. Brief funny moment as Taka had to figure out a safe way to get them both in the ring attached by a leash. As per usual Suzuki-gun tradition (or so it seems), they attacked their opponents before they got to the ring. Cool aerial exchange between Taka/TM. Iizuka whipped TM into the barricade hard and then took him into the crowd and used a chair on him. TM hit the Tiger Bomb on Iizuka to get the hot tag to Tenzan. Not much story here besides that Iizuka’s a crazy mofo, but that has been well-covered. Don’t run into this guy, ever. Iizuka used an iron glove on Tenzan’s throat to cause the disqualification finish. TM soon met the same fate. Without sacrificing a pinfall, they still managed to get it over that Suzuki-gun wanted to send a message and they were still in control despite Suzuki not getting Okada’s belt successfully.

– The 10-Man Elimination Tag between Will Ospreay/Gedo/Jado/Yoshi-Hashi/Hirooki Goto and Juice Robinson/Kushida/Katsuyori Shibata/Togi Makabe/Tomoaki Honma was the first of the three main events with this interesting format, maybe to American audiences anyway. On top of being elimination rules, legal men could also be thrown over the top rope by their opponent to count as an elimination. You think it’s not a big deal until it creates dramatic moments down the stretch. Could you imagine if WWE adopted those rules for the traditional Survivor Series match? We had a nice ensemble here, as what probably jumped out the most was the Juice-Goto and Ospreay-Shibata feuds continuing. The latter two had some great exchanges, as this was easy hype for their Feb. 11 match where Ospreay’s British Heavyweight Championship would be defended. Ospreay struck with several forearms only to get knocked down by just one from Shibata. They used the eliminations to advance the feud, as Shibata kicked Ospreay off the apron and then eliminated himself with a plancha just to get at Ospreay. With the way things were going, we just had a feeling it was going to come down to Juice-Goto as final two. There was another awesome moment where literally everyone came into the ring and tried to dump each other over the top rope, which ironically ended up with no eliminations. The action retained a stern pace, even as Makabe made his way in and soon eliminated Gedo. Jado was also eliminated by the King Kong knee drop. YH hung on as Makabe was thrown over the top. Kushida then eliminated YH. Goto eliminated Kushida and before long, he was all on his own against Juice. After some worthy teases, Juice got the best of Goto to eliminate him and won for his team. Perhaps this sets up a rematch for the two. We say why not? They always work so well together. In the end of it all, Chaos suffered a loss.

– The 10-Man Elimination Tag between Minoru Suzuki/Lance Archer/Kanemaru/Davey Boy Smith Jr./Taichi and Okada/Roppongi Vice/Toru Yano/Tomohiro Ishii was interestingly placed, since you’d think this’d be the main event slot. It still was up high on the card though. How would these guys fare under the rules? Guess we’d see. Also liked that a main focus headed in was Okada’s condition, who suffered outrageous damage to his knee just two days before by Suzuki. It was right up Suzuki’s alley to attack Okada as he posed on the top rope, albeit with his back turned to the crafty veteran. It was also noted that DBS Jr./Archer (Killer Elite Squad) would get a crack at the Tag Titles on Feb. 11. To no shock, Taichi used the bell hammer again and Suzuki continued to target Okada’s knee. Highlight moment where Suzuki simultaneously held Yano/Trent Bereta in a submission. Okada soon tagged in and fought through the pain. Callis cleverly mentioned on commentary how Suzuki didn’t wear kneepads this time, which made his strikes more painful. Rocky Romero lit up the ring with energy and smack-talked in Japanese some more. Oh, Rocky. It did take two men to eliminate him though. Ishii hit his brain buster to eliminate Taichi. DBS Jr. was kicked in the head by Ishii to knock him off the apron, an elimination. Archer eliminated Ishii with a kick to the skull that knocked him off the top turnbuckle. Yano got thrown over the rope by Archer after a comedic spot. Things tensed up again as Okada eliminated Archer with a dropkick. It was another Suzuki-Okada showdown as they exchanged fierce forearms. Suzuki locked Okada in a sleeper as he dragged him over the top rope and to the apron. He applied the kneebar and used the position to knock him off to finally get one over on the Champ. Bareta eliminated Suzuki after that and was almost thrown over by Kanemaru, but he scouted it well. Taichi interfered as he connected with a superkick to help Kanemaru to hit the destroyer. Close two. In the end, Kanemaru emerged victorious for Suzuki-gun. That’s a big momentum swing and almost felt like a main event in of itself. The punishment for Okada continued, but with the belt not on the line, it was more realistic for him to lose. It also logically affected the match. Suzuki’s post-match promo was in Japanese, so we can’t judge the content, but we assume it was about wanting another shot at Okada’s Title. That makes sense.

– The 10-Man Elimination Tag main event between IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito/”Ticking Time Bomb” Hiromu Takahashi/Evil/Sanada/Bushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi/Ryusuke Taguchi/Manabu Nakanishi/Dragon Lee/”Unbreakable” Michael Elgin was the last of these wondrous stipulations. Sometimes, we wonder if they were better set splitting these up the card, to begin, middle and close the show. It’s hard to follow a match with the same rules three times over. We were also confused on why the entrances were jumbled up between teams, as Lee came out first, then Los Ingobernables de Japon, then Elgin/Naito as the final two. They continued to push the Elgin/Naito feud, as Naito played his usual mind games with teases getting into the ring. Commentary spoke about Osaka’s hatred for Naito, compared to his popularity at Korakuen Hall. For a nice touch, the faces (namely Taguchi/Nakanishi) mocked LIJ’s skull-heavy attire and shades. Crazy good exchange between Lee/Takahashi, as we’ve come to know with their rivalry. Taguchi’s offense was very butt-oriented for some reason. Elgin hit a German suplex on one opponent while Takahashi was on his back in a chokehold position. The High Fly Flow eliminated Bushi. Tanahashi fell to the floor as he attempted to throw Evil over. Nakanishi was then eliminated as the “numbers game” became apparent. Elgin eliminated Evil, but then he was eliminated by Takahashi as Naito held him from outside. Lee’s mask was also ripped during the match by Takahashi, as he eliminated Lee with a back body drop. Sanada accidentally kicked Takahashi to eliminate him. Taguchi ran the ropes and crashed into Red Shoes when he was pulled into the way. Thusly, the official didn’t see Sanada get eliminated, so he retaliated with the bat strike and got a two on a side suplex. For the finish, Taguchi rolled up Sanada to get the win. It really felt like LIJ was going to power their way through there, but we like that they go into Osaka reeling a little bit. It’s hard to say who truly carries momentum, but based on Chaos and LIJ losing, it was likely Suzuki-gun with most to gain from this night, as their card-switching strategy worked out in the end. It also must be noted that no Bullet Club members were involved in this show, probably a rare occasion for an English broadcast.






Quick Results

  • Henare def. Tomoyuki Oka via submission 
  • Satoshi Kojima/Yuji Nagata def. Jushin Thunder Liger/Yoshitatsu via pinfall 
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Tiger Mask def. Taka Michinoku/Takashi Iizuka via DQ 
  • 10-Man Elimination Tag – Juice Robinson/Katsuyori Shibata/Togi Makabe/Tomoaki Honma def. Will Ospreay/Gedo/Jado/Hirooki Goto/Yoshi-Hashi 
  • 10-Man Elimination Tag – Minoru Suzuki/Lance Archer/Davey Boy Smith Jr./Taichi (w/Taka Michinoku)/Kanemaru def. Kazuchika Okada/Roppongi Vice/Toru Yano/Tomohiro Ishii 
  • 10-Man Elimination Tag – Hiroshi Tanahashi/Ryusuke Taguchi/Manabu Nakanishi/Dragon Lee/”Unbreakable” Michael Elgin def. Tetsuya Naito/Bushi/Sanada/Evil/”Ticking Time Bomb” Hiromu Takahashi 

About Nicholas Jason Lopez

Just a 29-year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently a freelance journalist with two websites - Pro Wrestling Opinion and The Music Bugle - he has also been published on sites such as The Bensonhurst Bean, Sheepshead Bites, Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Posted on August 19, 2017, in NJPW English and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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