8/3/14 11:20 P.M.
Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Another show starting with Ishii. Smart move New Japan. Kojima doesn’t have any fear of Ishii and takes the fight right to him. Ishii says “heck no” and rams Kojima to the outside. Guardrail spot counter: 1. Kojima gets a nasty DDT on the ring apron that Ishii lands right on the top of his head. Kojima remains focused on that neck with a neckbreaker on the inside. Big elbow drop from the top and Ishii is in bad shape. Don’t doubt Ishii, Campbell. He comes firing back with some vicious chops. A big time superplex gets a two count. This match has felt exhaustive in a very short amount of time. The perfect type of sprint. Kojima is trying to survive and pulls off an ace crusher to turn the tide again. A tornado DDT has Ishii really feeling ill-effects of his neck. He hits a German but can follow up immediately because of said injured neck. A powerbomb is a smart follow up move and earns a nearfall. Ishii’s mouth is bloodied up and he gives a crowbar lariat. Kojima resorts back to the trusty Ace Crusher, again affecting the neck. Koima goes for a lariat but hits some elbow and forearms strikes. Kojima senses how injured Ishii is and is able to hit a back forearm smash to the neck. Ishii won’t back down and we get forearms, headbutt and running lariats. One more DDT from Kojima puts a direct stop to that short lived comeback. Kojima follows up with a brainbuster and that gets the nearest fall of the match so far. I actually bit on that as the finisher. Ishii finds a nasty headbutt that makes a thud. An enzuguri and lariat has Kojima reaching for depths. The brainbuster by Ishii is enough to vanquish Kojima away for the night. This was a great opener that was the right length and showed the strengths of both men. I am greatly encouraged for this show as a whole seeing an opener like this. ***1/2
8/3/14 11:48 P.M.
Bad Luck Fale vs. Shelton Benjamin
Oy. I’ll give this one a shot. This is another match that starts as a slugfest. If it is Nakamura vs. Shibata that is one thing, but Benjamin vs. Fale feels pretty hollow. To make matters worse, Shelton takes the early advantage. This is mercifully short-lived as Fale pounds away into the corner. Shelton utilizes a smart strategy of kicking away Fale’s limb and hitting a DDT. Shelton attacks with an anklelock. Fale puts an end to the offense of Benjamin with a splash into the corner and a Samoan drop. Double clothesline rammed three times and I still fail to see the logic of why Shelton is being presented as a peer of Fale in the power department. Fale lifts Shelton up for the Bad Luck Fall. Shelton escapes hits two kicks and then gets the Paydirt for three! Pretty shocking upset right there that Shelton sells with great surprise. This match wasn’t good by any means, but it also wasn’t as bad as I feared going in and going this short was the right approach. **
8/3/14 11: 59 P.M.
Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi
Goto gets a great reaction from this crowd. Opening portion of the match seems to have Goto taking advantage which interests me two-fold. One, to see how interesting Goto can make this and two, I don’t like Yujiro in control that much. Guardrail spot counter: 2. Yujiro takes over, dropping Goto throat first onto the guardrail. Irish whip guardrail counter: 3. Glad I am not making this a drinking game. Yujiro again isn’t showing me much in the early goings of his control segment. His chinlock oriented offense isn’t good and lacks a lot of focus. Goto shrugs off some Yujiro slaps and clotheslines him down. Spinning back kick into the corner and a back suplex give Goto the distinctive advantage. Yujiro really loves that big boot. Fisherman buster is a nice wrinkle move he throws in here to gain a two count. A lot of back and forth action that has me getting pretty drowsy this late in the night. Forearm strike exchange and a German by Yujiro has Goto ripe for the picking. Much like in night one, Goto uses the headbutt as an equalizer as well as a twisting lariat. Shouten Kai finishes it off and Goto is on a roll going 2-0 the first two nights. This match didn’t excite me at all and I found it disappointing and aimless. **
8/4/14 12:16 A.M.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Lance Archer
The former Lance Hoyt has found a good home in New Japan and has really been putting together a series of good tag matches this year teaming with Davey Boy Smith, Jr. This started with a pretty rigid pace, showing the match was going to be on the short side. Archer does some fairly interesting stuff on top including a good Avalanche in the corner. Naito makes his comeback and all of his jumping based offense is perfectly fine in this sequence because of the lack of work Archer tended to his leg. An awkward front kick is redeemed with Naito by his flying forearm. Naito misses his spinning dive off the top again as he did two nights ago. Release German and a chokeslam with Naito’s head bouncing off the mat is a long two. Naito is able to reverse and hit a fluke rollup for the pin. Another good sprint match although I had more problems with this than the opener. **1/2
8/4/14 2:32 A.M.
Yuji Nagata vs. Tomoaki Honma
Sometimes when I wake up in the night and can’t sleep, I turn on a match and that usually does the trick. That is what happened with this match. It wasn’t bad but was just the type of match I needed to keep me awake for the time being, but ready to hit the sack at the end. A match watched with these parameters doesn’t need to have a lot of depth on intricate storytelling. Honma has a set template for his matches in this tournament. Opening flurry makes him look strong, but a missed headbutt leads to a beating. Nagata alternates his attack between the arm and midsection. Eventually, the wily Honma riles back with a suplex, clothesline, bulldog and diving headbutt. Nagata comes back sensing a weakened arm and he locks in his tranced arm submission. Honma is able to reach the ropes and reverses a back suplex attempt. Honma with a powerbomb, brainbuster and then misses the top rope headbutt. Nagata slips running the ropes and Honma stomps a mudhole. Big time strikes exchange in the middle with some haymakers being thrown. Nagata’s German and brainbuster combo gets a close count. Back suplex wins the match for Nagata. Honma may not win a match in this tournament but he already has put it two really good performances so I can’t complain. ***
8/4/14 10:02 P.M.
Davey Boy Smith, Jr. vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Here is my day in a nutshell. 11 hours of work, sick and pregnant wife, new noisy neighbors moving in. New Japan honestly has their work cut out for them to keep me entertained. Davey Boy Smith, Jr. makes his debut in the tournament and has a tall order facing Nakamura. He may honestly be my favorite gaijin in New Japan currently behind Styles. Nakamura opted for the swank, alternate red pants tonight. Nakamura has the uncanny ability to make things entertaining with some of his weirdness. The pose he throws up after hitting the first knee was spectacular. DBS can’t avoid the guardrail spot. DBS has controlled most of the match so far and kept things interesting enough with mostly high impact throws spruced out. Highlights of the match included a great lariat off of a blocked kick by DBS. Nakamura makes one great flurry that includes kicks, dropkicks and finishes DBS off with two Boma Ye. I really enjoyed this match as DBS looked really strong and Nakamura continued to be on a role and be insanely resourceful with deadly strikes. ***1/4
8/4/14 10:20 P.M.
Toru Yano vs. AJ Styles
I had no idea what to expect from this match. Yano offers a handshake. To quote Susan St. James, “I don’t trust this guy Vince.” AJ refuses the handshake and Yano gives a facial expression that has to be seen. AJ beats him down but Yano returns and starts posing. AJ takes most of next few minutes with submission moves. Yano unties a turnbuckle in the corner and tricks AJ into diving in. AJ seemed to have weathered that storm but makes another cardinal mistake doing a baseball slide to the outside and Yano throws his trusty chair right into AJ’s face. That exposed turnbuckle is giving AJ tons of trouble as Yano elevates him up and he hits the turnbuckle face first this time. The referee gets distracted for a second and we get a great nearfall after a Yano ball shot and cradle. Styles has had enough and hits the Styles Clash to dispel Yano. This match was way more thematic and storyline oriented within the match than any other we have seen so far. I greatly enjoyed this as a change of pace and thought AJ looked really good as a babyface surviving the odds which is not a role he has been able to portray in New Japan. *** ½
8/4/14 10:36 P.M.
Hiroyshi Tenzan vs. Kazuchika Okada
This crowd has been great all night but they are absolutely electric for this encounter. This match does seem relatively fresh on paper. Okada takes the early advantage with a DDT on the floor and maintains the advantage throughout the first portion of the match. Okada hooks on some chinlocks but varies them up to keep things engaging. Tenzan plays the grizzled veteran role well as exemplified in his comeback. The comeback is fairly short lived and Okada regains control. He hits a top rope elbow and sets up for the Rainmaker. Tenzan blocks this out with a headbutt and hits his lift tombstone for a close nearfall. Anaconda vice is hooked in and Okada is struggling now. Okada makes the ropes and Tenzan gets greedy going for a moonsault. Second Rainmaker attempt is countered with a lariat from Tenzan. Okada pulls a page out of Tenzan’s book and counters with a headbutt and then hits his own tombstone. Rainmaker is finally hit and the match is over. I really liked the up and comer vs. veteran narrative of this match. Tenzan was protective of his spot and wily throughout the match but in the end, Okada was too powerful. ***1/2
8/4/14 10:56 P.M.
Karl Anderson vs. Togi Makabe
This matchup feels tired either through tags or singles matches. I am really surprised at the placement of this in the semi-main event slot. The match starts out pretty generic and both go to the outside and throw each other into the guardrail giving us #6 and #7 on that ticker. When you are having a long day, this back and forth generic action isn’t exactly what I need to avoid sleep. Anderson is on top for a bit with punches, kicks and clobbering. Makabe takes over a does the same. Rinse and repeat. I think the appeal of Anderson is starting to get exposed when others like DBS Jr. and Archer feel much fresher and are currently turning in better performances. Makabe takes over with a powerbomb and climbs to the top. Anderson is able to hit him with a dropkick and then a fireman carry Ace Crusher off the top rope. Makabe makes a comeback and hits Anderson with a top rope release German. A big knee drop from the top wins it for Makabe. I’m surprised Karl is 0-2 now for the tournament. Sleep is creeping in. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ *1/2
8/5/14 7:21 A.M.
Doc Gallows vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
One perk about the boss man not getting into my job until 8:00 A.M. is that I can sneak in this match and finish out the show. Gallows has a big time chance to prove himself in this role. Test of strength spot is done well in the early going here, showing the extreme size advantage Gallows has. Gallows sends Tanahashi into the guardrail. I give up. He then sits him on a chair and gives him a big boot. Chair shot to the back and the referee is being lenient in this one. Gallows has dominated this match so far but here come Tanahashi getting a little spark with some punches. A good slugfest results in Doc regaining control. Tana is able to get his knees up off a dive and now his comeback is made in earnest. Doc does a good job at weathering that storm and remaining strong. His offense power moves still don’t look as lethal or vicious as they probably should but Tana as the babyface taking a beating is the right role for him. Doc gets a rub by kicking out of the slingblade clothesline at one which is a spot I didn’t mind as he hasn’t taken much damage at all. Another slingblade clothesline followed by two High Fly Flows win the main event for Tanahashi. Afterwards, we get some promo and air guitar that may have lasted longer than the match did. This match was decent enough but felt like an odd choice for a main event. **1/2
This show didn’t escalate as well as the first night but I do believe on average it was better overall. The opener was hot, Yano vs. Styles was something different. Davey Boy Smith Jr. pegged himself as someone to watch for elevation throughout the tournament and Okada vs. Tenzan was a good vet vs. youngster clash. Day 3 doesn’t have as many meaty matches on paper as the first two nights, but we will see if there are some surprises on that show.
Show Finished at 8/5/14 7:50 A.M.