Wrestling Review: NJPW 46th Anniversary (2018)

Two of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) championships are on the line, as well as a huge exhibition main event match for NJPWs 46th Anniversary. In the top match of the card, current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and leader of the CHAOS faction, will go one-on-one with his CHAOS stablemate, and current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay in a non-title match. Okada’s match at the Anniversary show last, against Tiger Mask W (or whoever the Golden Star underneath the mask was), was an instant classic, and Ospreay will be looking for that same infamy himself. The current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi 3K will defend against both the teams of El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru of Suzuki-gun, and BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi of Los Ingobernables de Japon, whilst Suzuki-gun leader and namesake, Minoru Suzuki will defend the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Toki Makabe in what is sure to be a monstrous brawl. Taichi also joins the heavyweight division, with a hell of a first match – facing off against the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon Tetsuya Naito.

Please note: Katsuya Kitamura vs Manabu Nakanishi in Katsuya Kitamura’s Best of Seven Series Match #7 never happened, as apparently Kitamura is unwell. He is currently on 0-6, so it really could have gone either way, and I look forward to it when it is rescheduled.

+ Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay: this was not the match I was expecting, with both men playing a much more ground-based game. Ospreay did bust out a few high fying moves, and Okada did still get his signature spots in, and though this was still a very good match, it was very different to Okada’s other ‘big’ matches. I do have to make one real complaint: Ospreay’s thigh slapping is so obvious, it really detracts from the match
+ Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Togi Makabe (IWGP Intercontinental Championship): if anything is certain, it is that Minoru Suzuki will slap the piss out of anyone he is in the rng with, and this was no exception. The difference is, Makabe is big enough to take it and then repay in kind. These two went hard with slaps, chops and fists, and a dropkick to the face from one guy to another that may have literally rearranged some features. This was great fun to watch
+ Tetsuya Naito vs Taichi: if, like me, you thought this would be over in five minutes, you are in for a big surprise. This was Taichi’s best match EVER, and I believe it was a very equal split for credit. I can’t stress enough that on any other card, on any other show, this would havebeen match of the night
+ SANADA vs YOSHI-HASHI: I admit I’m still not entirely onboard with this YOSHI-HASHI experiment, especially since SANADA is so dang good, but this was a really good match. Back and forth action, trading heavy blows, submissions and slams, this was a showcase for both men, and both men came out looking really good
+ Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (c) vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships): this was really good. Everybody was on their A-game, with Hiromu and Deperado the standouts, but it was SHO and YOH who had the highlights of the match. This had some great action, and a fantastic ending sequence

– Taguchi Japan (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) and Toa Henare vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto): short and sweet, bust mostly much too short. Henare is getting better, but this was still disappointing, especially since the Kitamura/Nakanishi was cancelled – these guys could have used more time
– Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Yuji Nagata, Tomoyuki Oka, Shota Umino, Tetsuhiro Yagi & Ren Narita: with Nagata leading the team of young lions, this really only had one outcome, but sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. The veteran team was great, and of the lions it was Umino and Narita that got the spotlight, and both looked good. This was the opening young lion tag, which isn’t bad, but hardly good compared to the rest

> Something really needs to be done about Kazuchika Okada’s long matches. The crowd expects these matches to go upwards of 20 minutes each time, so they don’t get invested in anything until that point. Okada needs to get a win without hitting his signature dropkick or even the Rainmaker pose, and by only hitting one Rainmaker, to really keep the crowd guessing. This issue was very obvious in the third match with Omega, and again more recently in the SANADA title defense.

Should you watch this event: This was a good show for a few matches, and not a good show for some as well. Go out of your way to watch the Taichi/Naito and Suzuki/Makabe matches, and catch the Okada/Ospreay and the Tag Title triple threat if you can, but don’t really worry about the rest.

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