Back again for Destruction in Hiroshima— if you missed last week’s Tokyo show, check out my thoughts right here.
As always, I've got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that's worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.
Mind you, these are not star ratings. They're not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you're best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.
Ricochet & TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) over Hunter Club (Captain New Japan & YOSHITATSU) & Togi Makabe (2): Pretty standard opening tag fare here. It’s best when Ricochet is in doing flips around YOSHITATSU early on, but it’s nowhere near essential.
David Finlay, reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly), & Ryusuke Taguchi over Manabu Nakanishi, Tiger Mask IV, Tomoaki Honma, & Yuji Nagata (2): Another pretty standard New Japan undercard tag. Not much to see here outside of Nakanishi trying to fly and a nice little tease of Fish/Nagata that will hopefully pay off sometime.
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) over Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero) (1): So much of this match is dreary and lifeless, I have to recommend giving it a pass. It does heat up nicely for a bit when Rocky and Tama go fast on each other, but it’s not nearly enough to make up for the slog the rest of the match is.
Chaos (Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii) over Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) (2): Another fairly dreary tag, although not quite to the depths of the previous match. Can’t help but feel maybe these two would have been better served as one eight-man instead of two individual tag matches.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA, & Michael Elgin over Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito) (4): Well this is more like it. All-out chaos to start, Naito brawling Elgin up the ramp, BUSHI and KUSHIDA on the outside, just all hell breaking loose. Elgin has to be helped to the back, and so the story is built around Time/Ace/Juice holding out against all odds until BIG MIKE can come back and even the score.
And even the score he does, hitting an Emerald Flowsion off the second to kick off his finishing run on EVIL. Good match, definitely worth your time.
Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) (c) over Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) to retain the IWGP Tag Team Championship (4): Briscoes dominate much of the first half of the match until Nick gets a hot tag and tears through them something wicked. Mark mounts a counterattack of his own until he takes the Nestea Plunge right into a superkick from a rejuvenated Matt.
Bucks cut off a Doomsday Device into a Superkick Party and keep tearing through with double-teams but when they go for the Meltzer Driver Mark is there to block Nick from springboarding. A Jay Driller and an avalanche Splash Mountain / diving neckbreaker combo fail to put the Bucks away, but the Doomsday Device takes out a defiant Matt Jackson in the end anyway.
Really fun tag, kind of bummed the belts didn’t get unified even though I prefer the Briscoes as tag champs. Post-match, Guerrillas of Destiny jump the Briscoes, which makes it an even bigger bummer, as it would seem to cut off the possibility of unification for the time being.
Adam Cole (c) over Will Ospreay to retain the ROH World Championship (3): Feeling out early, until Cole bumps Ospreay over the top to the outside and chucks young Will into the barricade. He continues to work Ospreay’s back over until the Englishman manages some separation in the form of a big lariat and the handspring gamengiri.
Will continues to have control, missing most of a headscissors takeover but connecting the Space Flying Tiger Drop after, until Cole counters an OsCutter attempt with a stiff lungblower. More abuse of the back follows but Ospreay creates room again, landing the running Spanish Fly and the corkscrew kick, but OsCutter is denied again and they reverse each other for a good minute.
Cole shifts to the leg, lands Panama Sunrise and the brainbuster on the knee and it’s done. Solid match, and only a couple clicks shy of a full recommendation, but I feel like Ospreay’s injuries are really starting to get to him.
Kazuchika Okada over Bad Luck Fale (3): Fale just chucking Okada around like a sack of potatoes early, and an attempt to punish the big man on the outside goes predictably south. Fale starts working the IWGP Heavyweight Champion’s arm on the barricade something unholy. Really clever stuff, too, like once he rolls him back in the ring he does a giant step on Okada’s back with his arm hung on the bottom rope.
Okada mounts a comeback off a dropkick and a lariat (with the bad arm) that sends Fale to the outside before landing a tope. Fale puts him on the back foot again and spikes him with Grenade, but no dice. Okada manages a press slam(!) but when he looks to follow up with a lariat the arm is hurt too bad to make any real impact. Likewise going for the tombstone his arm gives out again on the lift. Third time’s the charm— the tombstone connects and he’s able to land a Rainmaker for the win.
Really weird match, not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, Okada actually did a pretty good job restructuring his offense to account for how battered his arm was, he threw a lot of dropkicks and the couple of “my arm is too hurt, I can’t do it” spots were well placed. But then he’s throwing Fale around with a press slam and clotheslining him to the outside and the finish is just “oh, I can do it now”. So I’m calling it down the middle and trusting that I’ve provided enough context for you folks to figure out if it’s worth it for yourselves.
Kenny Omega over YOSHI-HASHI to retain his G1 Climax winner’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship title shot (4): YOSHI-HASHI fighting hard from the start, and they take it to the mat for a while before inevitably heading outside. Kenny gets a leg up in his natural habitat and tears the mats off the floor, but inevitably “he who smelt it dealt it” kicks in and Tacos back drops him into the cold wood.
He can’t enjoy the advantage, however, as the Bucks get involved and Omega sends him into the third row with a moonsault knee strike off the barricade. Back in the ring Omega’s in charge for a while until YOSHI-HASHI mounts a comeback, blockbuster, headscissors takeover, the dropkick to an opponent hanging over the top rope but when he looks for a powerbomb the back flares up again from all the abuse on the outside.
Kenny lands Aoi Shodou on his knee and looks to get a trashcan involved. Red Shoes admonishes him but gets distracted by Goto protesting in YOSHI-HASHI’s favor and the Elite nail him cold with it. Omega follows up with a sick missile dropkick to the back of his head and a Dragon suplex but neither gets the job done and when he looks for One-Winged Angel Tacos slips out and nails him with a DDT.
YOSHI-HASHI keeps throwing offense at Kenny but none of it can put him away. Up top for the Swanton but Omega has the knees up and takes charge again. YOSHI-HASHI with slap after defiant slap as he fights through before landing the jackknife powerbomb and the Swanton into the armlock neck crank. When Omega breaks that, it’s Karma time but he sees it coming and cuts it off with a knee. V-Trigger, poison Frankensteiner, V-Trigger against the ropes, One-Winged Angel and it’s over.
Maybe a little longer than it needed to be and I think I prefer their G1 match, but this was a good solid outing. Goto got in Omega’s face after, presumably looking for a rematch of the final.
There you have it, folks.
Destruction in Hiroshima was kind of spotty but it picked up in the back half there. One more left!
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.