Two of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW ) top champions will clash in the exhibition main event of the companies 47th Anniversary show. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White will face the current NEVER Openweight Champion, Will Ospreay. Ospreay has used a much more physical style in recent months, and may provide more of a challenge for White than the Bullet Club leader is bargaining for. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships are also on the line as Los Ingobernables de Japon’s BUSHI and Shingo Takagi face off against the boys from ROppomngi 3K, SHO and YOH. The junior heavyweight singles title will also be on the line, when the Bullet CLub’s bone soldier reborn, Taiji Ishimori, does battle with the legendary Jyushin Thunder Liger. The show’s penultimate match will feature a who’s who of the upcoming New Japan Cup in six way action, with New Japan Cup opponents Tomohiro Ishii and Yuji Nagata also facing off in tag team competition.
+ Jay White vs Will Ospreay: this was a better match than the weird Okada/Ospreay match from last year’s event, but it still felt a little bit out of place. Headlining an anniversary show with two non-Japanese wrestlers, despite them both being well known in NJPW and in fact two of the top champions, felt a bit strange. Nonetheless, Switchblade is such a jerk, and Ospreay’s moveset, both the strikes and high-flying when need be, are tailor made to make him a great underdog, so this did have several well thought out moments from both guys. I enjoyed this, especially the final few minutes
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi & CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Kauzchika Okada) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA): with three of the New Japan Cup’s most touted potential champions on one side, and the thirdd big boys of LIJ on the other, this was a wild match. Okada/Naito are so fantastic, and Goto is, in my mind, really underappreciated (in the way that people love Ishii and want him to succeed, but I think Goto is just as good). There was nothing on the line here bu bragging rights, but it still felt like a big match, with three of the companies biggest stars involved
+ Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Jyushin Thunder Liger (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): I love Liger’s theme, and I get pumped every time I hear it. This was a good match, but it never quite made it to ‘great’. The build up to this match has been really good, including that shock roll-up from Liger, which was one of the most hype finishes in recent memory, but something about this match just didn’t click for me, outside of the whole ‘cocky champ challenges older veteran’ deal. It was still fine. And dang Ishimori is so ripped
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) (c) vs Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (w/ Rocky Romero) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships): this was a really good match, even though Shingo wasn’t monstering the other juniors in the way I wanted. SHO and YOH are both so good to the extent that I almost wish they were singles guys as well. Add in my main man BUSHI, and you get a really good tag team contest
+ Taguchi Japan (Dragon Lee, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask, Tomoaki Honma & Satoshi Kojima) vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru): I love Suzuki-gun. They really are the best faction in NJPW right now, mostly because of how flat-out jerkass they are to everyone else (especially anyone with a mask). Suzuki himself is fantastic, Dragon Lee is incredible, and I will always have a soft spot for my boy Despy. I still can’t believe Honma is not only back, but doing his old stuff again. This was another good match
+ Toa Henare & Yuji Nagata vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI): of course Ishii and Nagata whacking each other was going to be good, but it was Henara that really stood out the most. His brief dominations of YOSHI-HASHI were really something special to watch. I enjoyed this
– Ayato Yoshida, Ren Narita, Shota Umino and Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) vs Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, HIKULEO, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (w/ Jado): I’m glad to se HIKULEO back, and I don’t know when Umino got so big. This was a good showing for the various young lions (and HIKULEO), but it was the same old opening match you’ll always see. The GOD vs the Briscoes should be really good
Should you watch this event: Overall, this was a very good show. Every match was better than the one before it, with only the opening, young-lion filled tag contest warranting a negative grade. The final four matches, in particular — both title defences, the star studded six-man and the main event — are all fantastic contests, which you should certainly try to see.