Wrestling Review: NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome (2021) (Night 2)

After a first night of action that overachieved in every way, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) returns to the same stadium for night two of Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome. In the main event, old rivals collide once more, as Shingo Takagi defends the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against EVIL. EVIL made the surprise challenge after Shingo managed to defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi at the Tokyo Dome, and The Dragon of Los Ingobernables de Japon was more than happy to accept the fight against the owner of the House of Torture, Bullet Club’s EVIL. In the junior heavyweight division, the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Robbie Eagles, will face his toughest challenge to date as the returning Hiromu Takahashi once against attempts to claim “his” belt.

A rare three way tag team match will also take place, as the top teams of the IWGP Tag Team division contend for the titles: defending champions Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.), two thirds of the current NEVER Openweight Trios Champions, members of CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI), and former tag team champions, the Los Ingobernables de Japon duo of Tetsuya Naito and SANADA. Meanwhile, by virtue of winning the Super Jr. Tag League, the Suzuki-gun duo of El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru will get a chance to claim the IWGP Jr Tag Team Championships against the defending team of El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori of the Bullet Club. Kicking off the show, Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii will team up to face the United Empire team of Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan, just one night after Cobb and Okada tore the house down at the MetLife Dome.

+ Shingo Takagi (c) vs EVIL (w/ Dick Togo) (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship): the first half of this was the same boring crap we’ve all come to hate from Bullet Club Evil matches, but it then seemed to really flick a switch into something more like what I enjoy in the heavyweight NJPW matches. EVIL started hossing out, and of course anything Shingo is involved in is gold, though there was still that sort of interference stuff I don’t care for. At least the crowd seemed to enjoy it, because even though the crowd couldn’t cheer, the way they clapped really did fill the stadium at times
+ Robbie Eagles (c) vs Hiromu Takahashi (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): this was an incredible match. Eagles has stepped up over the pandemic period, and crazy Hiromu is the perfect opponent to show what Eagles can do with a faster opponent – I love Despy, but I’d hardly call him a typical junior heavyweight in terms of sprinting around the ring like a madman. Hiromu looked like he didn’t miss a beat, as he bounced around and put his body on the line in numerous crazy ways. This was probably the match of the show, and well worth your time
+ BULLET CLUB’s Cutest Tag Team (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) (c) vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships): this was great. I’m a big fan of all four guys, and it’s because they consistently put on great matches like this. ELP’s loaded boot (or is it?) continues to come into play in he and Ishimori’s tag title defenses, and it makes for such a compelling story in a world where superkicks are used so heavily

Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (c) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) (IWGP Tag Team Championships): unfortunately I just couldn’t get into this match at all. NJPW’s heavyweight tag scene is just so repetitive and full of rematches that even a three way match here feels like something I’ve seen a billion times before. I like the majority of these guys individually, but until something happens to shake up the tag division, or ideally moreso some new teams come in from other companies, I just don’t know how much interested I can have
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii) vs United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan): I really didn’t care for this at all. I’ve never enjoyed the idea of tag matches coming after the big singles matches. There were a few interesting bits between Ishii/O-Khan in particular, but overall this felt unnecessary

> The 2021 G1 Climax competitors and which Block they were in were announced, and oh my goodness gracious, the A Block is going to be something insanely special

Should you watch this event: Three of the four championship matches were well worth watching here, including that you should definitely try to see Eagles/Hiromu. I don’t know if running this MetLife Dome twice over two nights was worth it with the state of Japan being what it is at the moment, but this show was another each one to watch, especially if you skip the three way heavyweight tag team match.


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