Notes In Observance – NJPW English 2/11/17: Manifest Destino

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 2/11/17) 

Manifest Destino 

– The Taka Michinoku-Henare match started things off with a proverbial bang. Michinoku had a variated version of his old WWE entrance music. As commentary sifted through the card, we could tell it could be no less than great. This one was your typical “Young Lion Battles Established Veteran” story, but Henare had all to gain and none to lose. Early mat-based grappling dictated the action as Taka was also under the weather. It was definitely physical, but maybe that’s why it was a bit short. Taka maneuvered a transition to get the pinfall. An anticlimactic finish, but it was what it was with these two. We like the story of Henare showing some frustration after the bell. Gives him some depth.

– The Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima-Kushida/Yoshitatsu match was also appropriate to throw out early on the card. We didn’t expect much, but it also had potential to be good. YT busted out of the gates with all aggression, which probably caught his opponents off-guard. Kushida worked over YT’s left arm. Kojima unleashed an impressive stretch before he hit a suplex. Kushida then began to break out the handspring maneuvers. A lariat put down YT as Kojima/Tenzan won. The moral was that there was “no substitute for experience,” and rightfully so. The post-match happenings were more interesting, as YT deliberately shoved away the veterans’ attempt at sportsmanship. Will YT join the dark side down the road? He already has Los Ingobernables de Japon colors in his hair.

– The Eight-Man Tag between Jado/Gedo/Yoshi-Hashi/NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto and Juice Robinson/Yuji Nagata/Jushin Thunder Liger was definitely star-studded, no doubts there. We would say this was booked to primarily focus on the Robinson-Goto feud, as last time around, Juice got the upper hand. With that mention, it was also noted that Yoshi-Hashi has a future Title shot at ROH World Champion Adam Cole that he’d receive at Honor Rising before the end of the month. One of the first instances to get a crowd reaction happened when Gedo audibly winced in pain when TM put him in a hold. Another highlight was Goto’s strikes at Liger, who stood his ground and demanded more. It also wasn’t long before Juice broke out the running cannonball into the corner. He busted Goto open from the mouth, a second occurrence. It’s the little things. We also found it a little funny how even the Japanese fans scream “Woo” upon the chops. Of course, it’s not loud, but you still hear it. Juice hit the Pulp Friction to get the win again, as he just rolls with momentum. A pleasing effort from all involved, as Chaos lost despite good teamwork displayed. To make his intentions all the more clear, Robinson gestured holding gold at Goto. Their rematch is imminent.

– The Six-Man Tag between Minoru Suzuki/Taichi/Yoshinobu Kanemaru and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada/IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions Roppongi Vice saw history repeat itself when Suzuki attacked Okada as he posed on the top rope, back turned. Suzuki used the barricades to work over Okada’s neck, this guy was just crazy. Insert heel tactics as Taka distracted the referee while Taichi used the bell hammer on Berreta. Suzuki showed off some technical prowess as he applied a double heel hook on Berreta/Okada. There were more intense exchanges between Suzuki/Okada. Great finish as Kanemaru executed a jumping top rope DDT on Rocky Romero with help from Suzuki, who choked out Okada in the corner. Post-match, Okada/Suzuki fought some more outside. He threw Suzuki so hard into the barricade that it apparently knocked down Commentator Don Callis’ monitor. There was also progress as Kanemaru/Taichi made a claim towards RV’s gold.

– The NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship match between Evil/Bushi/Sanada and Champions Hiroshi Tanahashi/Rysuke Taguchi/Manabu Nakanishi again saw old times anew when Taguchi/Nakanishi openly mocked the LIJ attire. There was also an embedded story to see if LIJ could regain the belts they only held for a day. Tanahashi even joined the fray, as he donned Evil’s signature eye black. They obviously followed Taguchi’s lead, as Taguchi Japan has some sort of soccer team vibe. Go Ace? Anyways, we kind of picture Taguchi as the Tommy Dreamer of NJPW, right from the t-shirt, the facial hairstyle and his overt enthusiasm. LIJ began the match aggressively, even though Taguchi combatted a lot of that with his butt. Hell, even Commentator Kevin Kelly’s making “tickle butt” references. Funny. The Champs applied a trio of different submission holds for a cool highlight. High action down the stretch as Taguchi fired off more hip attacks. Nakanishi performed a cross body for a two as Sanada raised his shoulder. Bushi’s mist blinded Nakanishi, as he fell into Sanada’s Skull End, which meant we had new Champs again. How about that? To keep up with LIJ customs, Sanada kept the hold locked in for more than a minute and later tied Taguchi up on the floor as he made eyes with Commentator Milano Collection AT, who appeared to have a problem with it. Wonder where that leads.

– The British Heavyweight Championship match between Will Ospreay and Champion Katsuyori Shibara was one of the marquee bouts headed in. With both men’s styles, this would mix athleticism with strong style. Count us in. Fluid motion early on with a bit of technical tendencies. Shibata was methodical with the way he worked over the arms. Ospreay did a tope where he crashed chest first and then followed with a cartwheel into a back handspring plancha. Ospreay even did his own Coast-To-Coast before Shibata urged him on with more strikes. A stiff forearm shot by Ospreay led to an impressive exchange of German suplexes. Shibata caught Ospreay in mid-air as he tried an enziguiri. Shibata damn near kicked off Ospreay’s chest cavity. Ospreay kicked Shibata out of the ring, picked him up when the count got close to 20 and slid in while holding him to barely beat it. They sold that drama well, as he was desperate to still have a chance to win the Title. Ospreay hit an inverted 450 for a two. He then went for the Oscutter and was caught with a sleeper, even as he tried to roll out of it. The PK won Shibata the match. We thought it’d have time, but it was excellent for what we were given. Post-match, the two shook hands as Shibata initiated a handshake.

– The IWGP Tag Team Championship Three-Way match between Champions Toru Yano/Tomohiro Ishii, Davey Boy Smith Jr./Takashi Iizuka and GBH was also hyped from earlier. It was noted that Lance Archer suffered an injury that would require surgery, so that drew in Iizuka as a replacement partner. What we liked about it was that the action seemed to revolve around Iizuka being a wild card presence, which made sense. Yano’s comedic thievery was also a focus here. Iahii hit a superplex brian buster, to which Togi Makabe got right back up. With the referee down, Iizuke used the iron glove, but Ishii avoided it. Yano used low blows on everyone and scooped up Iizuka to retain the belts. That was a wild finish. Chaos was having a great night and retained control over the Tag Team Division. What was better than that?

– The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match between Champion “Ticking Time Bomb” Hiromu Takahashi and Dragon Lee was already set to steal the show. These two had great chemistry, which we’ve even seen a taste of in the States in places like ROH. Takahashi’s entrance was complete with big bouncing red balls. See, they were in before beach balls. They fired straight out with fire-esque chops. Two times DL countered a hurcanrana with a cartwheel. Lee struck a missile tope suicida. Takahashi hit a sunset flip powerbomb as he flew over the ropes to send DL’s head to the floor. DL’s mask had also been torn apart, something Takahashi had worked in to other matches and part of their longtime feud. Lee hit a huracanrana that took Takahashi from the apron to the floor. He followed that up with a tope con hilo. DL hit three consecutive northern lights suplexes. Takahashi threw DL off the top rope and to the floor. Damn. DL countered a huracanrana attempt with a powerbomb to the floor. This match is just what we hoped it’d be. Takahashi did a seated senton that sent DL’s head into the rail bars. Ouch. Takahashi pulled Referee Red Shoes in front of him to absorb a Lee kick. In a shocker, Lee had his mask temporarily removed while seated on the top rope. That set up a great near-fall before Lee put it back on. Takahashi hit a destroyer as a counter to a huracanrana. Just damn. He hit another destroyer for another two. Wow. He hit the Time Bomb and got the three then. Damn. Try to top that one. Post-match, Taguchi applauded Takahashi and made some jokes. Takahashi ignored it and went to attack him with the belt, but was then caught in an ankle lock. We guess Takahashi has his next challenger.

– The IWGP Intercontinental Championship main event between Champion Tetsuya Naito and “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin was the top of the marquee in terms of their rivalry payoff, or so it seems. They had played an ongoing battle of wits, all from which stemmed from Naito injuring Elgin’s orbital bone. Naito just looks epic in a purple suit and he stood with what he knew, as he carelessly threw the belt to the canvas. It seemed like he undressed slowly to purposely stall for time, as he smirked at the Referee. There were big Elgin chants to start, as the story was their admiration for him in Osaka. Naito was in a little bit of enemy territory, but he still had a decent following. Naito hocked a loogie towards MCAT, maybe it was meant for Okada next to him? One of the early highlights included an Elgin cannonball off the apron. Naito went for a suicide dive, to which Elgin caught him and performed a vertical suplex onto the ramp. It was a slow, calculated pace, which was expected. Elgin hit a pretty inverted falcon arrow. Naito also made sure to work over the knee and managed to strike with the tornado DDT after some initial resistance. Elgin hit a jumping front kick that spun Naito inside out. Elgin countered a missile dropkick with the Elgin Bomb for a two. Elgin hit as top rope splash as he held the knee that bothered him as it jammed into the canvas. Naito hit a step-up enziguiri, which was met with a lariat. Another lariat was a two. Naito hit a huracanrana and then a reverse one for a crazy near-fall. Elgin hit the death valley driver on the edge of the ring frame. Elgin hit another falcon arrow, this time off the top rope, for a two. Playing mind games, Elgin spit on Naito and laid him out with a forearm. Naito avoided an Elgin Bomb and hit the Destino for a near-fall. Damn. This is a great match. Elgin avoided a second one as he drove Naito into the corner. Elgin hit an apron powerbomb and then powerbombed him into the barricade. Damn. He sent Naito back in the ring and hit a spinning Elgin Bomb. Two. Naito hit a variation of the Destino to get out of the Burning Hammer. Another Destino for a two. How many Destinos can a man kick out of? Jesus. Another Destino finally finished Elgin off. Now that’s a main event. We’d say it was our second favorite behind Kenny Omega-Okada from Wrestle Kingdom 11. Naito’s truly making a name for himself here with performances like that. LIJ struck a clean sweep as they now held four Titles and they closed out the show with Naito proud of his trendy-yet-sinister group.






Quick Results 

  • Taka Michinoku def. Henare via pinfall 
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima def. Yoshitatsu/Kushida via pinfall 
  • Eight-Man Tag – Juice Robinson/Yuji Nagata/Jushin Thunder Liger/Tiger Mask def. Jado/Gedo/Hirooki Goto/Yoshi-Hashi via pinfall 
  • Six-Man Tag – Minoru Suzuki/Taichi/Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. Kazuchika Okada/Roppongi Vice via pinfall 
  • NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championships – Evil/Bushi/Sanada def. Hiroshi Tanahashi/Manabu Nakanishi/Ryusuke Taguchi (Champions) via pinfall to become new Champions 
  • British Heavyweight Championship – Katsuyori Shibata (Champion) def. Will Ospreay via pinfall to retain 
  • IWGP Tag Team Championships – Three-Way – Tour Yano/Tomohiro Ishii (Champions) def. GBH and Davey Boy Smith Jr./Takashi Iizuka (w/Taka Michinoku) via pinfall to retain 
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – “Ticking Time Bomb” Hiromu Takahashi (Champion) def. Dragon Lee via pinfall to retain 
  • IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Tetsuya Naito (Champion) def. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin via pinfall to retain 

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 September 3, 2017, in NJPW English and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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