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New Japan Pro Wrestling Power Struggle 2017 match recommendations: Where eagles dare

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Power Struggle was this morning and as always if you want in-depth results you can get those in our dedicated post right here. On with the recommendations!

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.

David Finlay vs. Katsuya Kitamura (2): Good solid young lion match, Finlay using his relative veteran wiles to counter Kitamura's strength advantage and teach him a thing or two about a thing or two. Nothing nearly essential but these kind of matches are always a fun time and a nice window into the future of New Japan. Plus there’s a chop from Katsuya here that sounds like a man hitting a side of beef with a lead pipe, so that’s neat.

Dragon Lee & Titan vs. Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (2): The luchadors keep the Bucks on the back foot for the early going but Nick manages to turn the tide. Some crazy dives ensue, Dragon Lee eats it hard on a scary apron DDT but Titan is rolling. He's isolated, however, so it's a question of whether Lee can recover before the relatively fresh Bucks put him away.

This had a lot of cool stuff in it, but also was short enough that it didn't really feel like it was anything but a vehicle to remind you who the Bucks are and what they do. Which is fine, it was a good time, but not something you absolutely need to watch.

Hirai Kawato, Juice Robinson, Jushin Liger, KUSHIDA, & Tiger Mask IV vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & Zack Sabre, Jr.) (3): All-out chaos in the Suzuki-gun style here early, as the match settles down Liger makes a valiant effort to hold his own and he succeeds in making the tag and letting the match start cycling through the matchups a bit. Some really fun TAKA/KUSHIDA stuff, Kawato has some dives, not a huge amount to this one but it's just fun enough that I'm willing to put it across the line.

Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Cody Rhodes, & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Togi Makabe (1): Back and forth early, Tenzan ends up isolated until he can tag Makabe in and the Unchained King Kong runs wild. Eventually he tags Kojima in and the Captain of Bread Club has a harder time of it as Bullet Club try to use their numbers advantage to finish it. There's nothing here, just a by-the-numbers six-man to fill the card. Not a cool segment, not a big spot, not a neat storytelling trick, just... pass.

Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Super 69 (ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi) (Super Jr. Tag Tournament 2017 Finals) (4): Fun and games early, ACH "coaching" Taguchi running roughshod on the tag champs with butt bumps, but it's a poor strategy once RPG3K slip out and start flying. They keep ACH isolated, working his taped ribs over something fierce until he can finally get a desperate tag off and Annoying Butt Man comes in hot, nearly wiping a cameraman out with a dive at one point!

ACH back in, fighting valiantly but his ribs are bugging him and missing a frog splash doesn't help. He guts through it and he and Taguchi rally strong for a while, at one point pulling the tape off his ribs to hit his 450 splash, but it's no good and he's hurting more than ever, leading to the finishing stretch of the match being all about whether his body will give out before he and Taguchi can finish the job.

Really good stuff, I don't think it can be overstated how much some new blood helps in the junior tags. Not an absolute blow-away must-watch effort, but still very much worth your time.

Chaos (Gedo, Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito) (3): Ishii and EVIL to start, bull moosery abounds, cycling to Hiromu vs. Tacos, at which point the match breaks down and Naito takes Okada up the ramp to put a beating on him! Goto legal, he clears house and gets into a nice long sequence with SANADA before tags are made and we get a preview of the main event at Wrestle Kingdom 12!

The Stardust Genius exploits the champion's neck to pull ahead as LIJ break the match down outside the ring, but the Rainmaker is able to cut his rally off before he can finish. The rest of LIJ press the attack and the match ends up hinging on whether or not they can put the 200 million yen project away without Naito's help.

This was quite good, although I'm taking it down just a click from my gut feeling four because they've leaned quite heavily on these Chaos/LIJ tags in various configurations all fall. There's nothing wrong with that, but it does make each new iteration less essential than the last.

Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Toru Yano (NEVER Openweight Championship Bullrope Deathmatch) (4): Off to a great start here just because Yano's hair is orange again, to be honest. Anyway, some action before the bell because he doesn't want the rope taped to his wrist but Suzuki manhandles him long enough for referee Marty Asami to do the deed.

Anyway, match actually in progress, they brawl on the floor and to the ramp, Minoru taking control. Eventually they end up back in the ring and Suzuki dumps the Sublime Master Thief to the floor and faction warfare ensues, a couple of the Suzuki-gun juniors beating Yano up before Goto comes down to clear them out. The damage done, Minoru starts attacking the arm with vigor but he can't force a submission and Toru begins making a comeback by hook and by crook.

So the match goes, both men exhausting every dirty trick in their playbooks, some of them multiple times, until one of them is finally worn down enough to take the fall. This match kind of ruled, the bullrope taking the obligatory interferences and shenanigans and making them cheeky and fun rather than sad and tragic. Not quite gonna call it a must-watch, but it's a hoot for sure.

Marty Scurll vs Will "Kitty Boy" Ospreay (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (4): Ospreay pulls ahead in the feeling out and sends Scurll to the floor... where the Villain immediately turns it around him using the environment as a weapon. So it goes, back and forth, as befits two men who have fought each other around the world the way they have. Wicked slap exchange at one point, really heated and ending in a chop to the throat that ends up presaging one of Marty's main strategies as the match continues, just attacking Will so vigorously that he dry heaves!

Scurll pays a lot of attention to the fingers as well, clearly setting up the chickenwing, and it's all about if Ospreay can keep it together long enough to retain his title. This exceeded my expectations a bit-- Scurll in particular is really hit and miss for me, but here with the story of the throat and the fingers, it all worked really well for me.

Beretta vs. Kenny Omega (c) (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship) (5): Omega well in charge early, picking up where his buddies the Young Bucks left off by targeting Beretta's back, but eventually Trent fights through the pain and turns things around, at one point busting out a crazy baseball slide German suplex with Kenny sat in the ropes before getting caught out attempting the piledriver on the apron.

Omega begins targeting the head and neck as well, trying to keep the ebb and flow from turning against him but Beretta's fired up and rolling! Neck and back for neck and shoulder after a pair of piledrivers, one on the apron(!), but the Cleaner ain't done yet and it's a matter of who has more grit and determination to fight through the pain and take the gold home.

A really good match, the story of Trent's back and fighting spirit played out effectively and he really stepped it up a notch for his first singles title match in New Japan. Plus, y'know, how often does Kenny Omega let you down in a big match? Watch it!

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Kota Ibushi (IWGP Intercontinental Championship) (5): This is built almost from the start around Tanahashi working the leg with such righteous fury and intense frequency that even Ibushi, who's been known to occasionally wrestle like his legs are made of solid impenetrable steel, has no choice but to buckle under the weight of the assault. But Ibushi has the Kamigoye, the unblockable wristlock knee strike to the face in his back pocket, and you have to think if he can get it off it's lights out for the old Ace.

That dichotomy established, the match proceeds to its natural conclusion, both men digging deep as befits a New Japan main event. And, as you well expected, this is an excellent match and you should watch it posthaste!

There you have it, folks

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.

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