NJPW Exciting Battle In Okinawa 3/25/2011

Written by: Colin Rinehart

NJPW Exciting Battle in Okinawa 2011
March 25th, 2011
Okinawa Prefectural Budokan, Okinawa, Japan
Attendance: 2,650

Ever vigilant in my battle against the mounting stack of puro shows sitting here waiting to be reviewed, we come across this B-show in Okinawa roughly five days after the finals of the 2011 New Japan Cup tournament. This is a total B-show in that no titles are on the line, none of these matches have any real importance, and this show didn’t even pop up onto my radar until long after the fact. They claim a little over 2600 in attendance but it looks more like half of that, hard to tell with the lighting. Not really a notable show, but still, I’m one of those OCD completist types so I’m reviewing it anyways. Let’s see if we can’t find some good stuff hidden away.

Jado/Gedo vs. Tiger Mask IV/Hiromu Takahashi

From the start this show is already giving me the vibe of an old Big Japan show from the 90s or something with the lighting and atmosphere. As you might’ve expected, not much in the way of background for this match. Young Takahashi appears to have improved since I last saw him. TMIV seems on tonight, while Jado and Gedo do their usual entertaining heel shtick. Takahashi does a decent job as the babyface in peril, but there’s not much of any heat for anything they do. TMIV takes out Gedo with a nice tope and Takahashi tries to take Jado out on his own, but he walks right into the crossface submission and taps almost immediately at 10:15. One big yawn would be a nice way to describe that match. Takahashi ls improving, but still not terribly interesting. I never thought I’d say this, but Jado and Gedo could probably be put to better use than this. *1/4

Tomohiro Ishii vs. King Fale

Now this looks like a fun clash of styles on paper. Ishii seems a lot more interesting since losing his hair to TMIV. Lots of manly forearm exchanges in the early going as they play a game of “who will flinch first”. Neither man apparently, but Ishii does get knocked to the floor briefly. He wraps Fale’s leg around the ring post a few times and then rams a chair into his mid-section. Some nice selling of the leg from Fale in this one, which becomes Ishii’s main focus in the latter part of the match. Fale tries to mount a comeback but it doesn’t gim him anywhere and he falls to a weak lariat at 9:24. Pretty much just a squash for Ishii, and not a particularly exciting one either. Fale’s selling was nice though. *

Ryusuke Taguchi/Shisaou/Kaijin Habu Otoko/Kijmuna vs. Jushin Liger/Menso-re Oyaji/Mil Mongoose/Gurukun Diver

So this is one hell of a strange match. Mose of these guys are comedy wrestlers from the local indy Okinawa Pro I do believe and I can’t say I’m very familiar with any of their work, so forgive me if I misspelled any of their names or anything. This is basically just Liger and crazy comedy wrestlers versus Taguchi and his own crazy comedy wrestlers. God bless Liger, still coming out to these B-shows and working with these indy kids, he’s a man of the people he is. To even attempt to do a play-by-play here would pretty much be pointless, so I won’t even try. Just know that they work a very light-hearted comedy match with some acrobatic moves and this winds up being way more entertaining than I was expecting it to. The Okinawa guys do some really fun lucha-resu inspired stuff and then Liger hops in to kick ass. All the Okinawa kids get some licks in and do some fun spots and I’m just now noticing that they even have a masked Okinawa ref in there for the counting. Finally Otoko winds up pinning Mongoose with the Moudoku Habu Kuubaku (which is just a frog splash off the top) at 13:58. This was a refreshing change of pace from the previous matches and it’s always nice to see the local indie guys given a chance to show off when the big guys come into town, but it was really just an average exhibition.The Okinawa guys hits a lot of fancy moves though and their over-the-top costumes made this pleasant to watch. **1/4

Tetsuya Naito/Yujiro Takahashi vs. Manabu Nakanishi/Tomoaki Honma

Here we go, this should pick things up hopefully. Naito and Honma do a mini-pose off for the crowd but Naito ends that quickly by jumping him from behind. Naito escapes the ring for a breather and tries to convince a couple of children at ringside to hop into the ring and take his place for him. No dice. Takahashi tries to out-power Nakanishi, but that’s silly of course and Nakanishi out-powers him with ease. They brawl into the crowd for a few minutes before returning to the ring, where Naito and Takahashi work over Honma in their corner. They continue to isolate Honma until he uses brute strength to suplex Naito from the mat and tag out to Nakanishi, who comes in firing off machine-gun chops into Naito’s chest. The heels try double-teaming Nakanishi but he suplexes both of them at the same time and lets Honma pick them apart with a missile dropkick. Takahashi manages to fight off Honma’s lariats long enough for Naito to hop back in and help out again. A fisherman’s buster suplex gets two for Takahashi, so he delivers the Tokyo Pimps powerbomb to finish Honma off at 15:44. We’re starting to get there, but this still felt like a longer match that had it’s last third cut off unexpectedly out of nowhere. Pretty average. **1/4

Yuji Nagata/Wataru Inoue vs. Satoshi Kojima/Taichi

Save us boys, because this show has been dismal thus far. This is a nice step up in talent though so this should be decent. Nice mix and match teams of a veteran and younger babyface against a veteran and younger heel. Nagata is over like rover everywhere he goes, Okinawa included. Nagata is in full on “take no shit” mode tonight and he’s handing out forearms and kicks to the chest like they were joints at a Phish concert. One for you! And you! And you! Taichi does the “tie my opponent up in the ring apron and then dropkick him” spot he’s become ever so fond of as of late. Taichi tries to get cute and lay in some Nagata-like kicks of his own, but Nagata quickly shoots him down and tags in Inoue to get his spots in for a bit before tagging out again. Nagata tosses Kojima like a ragdoll with an exploder but Kojima responds right back with a nice DDT. Nagata fights off a lariat attempt from Kojima but eats an ace crusher. Nagata locks Taichi into a crossface but Kojima breaks it up and he and Inoue brawl around ringside while Taichi superkicks Nagata for a near fall. Nagata has had enough though and a few insulting slaps awaken the beast again, and Taichi gets pinned with a back-drop suplex just as he disrobes at 14:50. I expect more out of these four, but compared to everything else tonight, this was probably match of the night thus far. Still nothing particularly special though. **1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi/Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Togi Makabe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/Takashi Iizuka/Toru Yano

You can see several empty rows as the guys make their way to the ring here, so again it seems like this show must have suffered pretty badly attendance-wise from the recent earthquake right around this time. The fans nearly claw Tanahashi to pieces on his way to the ring, and it’s funny how much he reminds me of Jericho sometimes with that same kind of rock-star charisma and following he’s got going. Nakamura and Tanahashi start us off, finally giving these fans their money’s worth tonight. They do some nice hold-wrestling and grappling before tagging out and letting Makabe and Yano hop in to lock up and do some manly brawling. Tenzan gets impatient though and wants a piece of Iizuka and the two old foes brawl out at ringside. Iizuka has the nerve to even blast a few bouquets of flowers over Tenzan’s back! Aaah! Not on my frickin’ azalea bushes Fryman! Iizuka has the good sense to follow it with a chair shot and thankfully Tenzan sells it as being just a wee bit more painful than the bouquet. Tenzan plays Mr. Babyface for a bit back in the ring as Iizuka chokes him with his wrist-tape behind the ref’s back and becomes annoyed when the ref won’t count his pin attempt (he’s not the legal man). Tenzan finally tags out to Makabe, who powerslams Yano out of his boots. Nakamura and Tanahashi hop back in and finally this thing picks up into a higher gear as they start pulling out some of their signature stuff (Sling Blade for Tanahashi, the Boma Ye knee and an inside-out suplex from Nakamura). Iizuka gives Tanahashi a freakin’ pedigree out of nowhere and everyone else brawls out of the ring as they set up for the finish. Tanahashi blocks the sleeper but gets low blowed. Iizuka pulls out his trademark metal glove, but Tanahashi blocks it with a Sling Blade and Tenzan hits Iizuka with a diving headbutt, setting him up for Tanahashi to finish him off with the High Fly Flow frog-splash at 17:41. This one took it’s sweet time to get going, but once it did the last five minutes or so was really fun, well-worked stuff. Nakamura and Tanahashi saved this one from being another forgettable affair thankfully. ***

Bottom Line: I was hoping this show might wind up being a pleasantly surprising B-show, but instead it wound up being the normal kind of B-show—forgettable, full of filler, and really just not worth your time. There’s really no point to checking this one out unless you’re terribly bored or feel like watching a mildly fun six-man main event. Otherwise, feel free to skip this one altogether. Thumbs Down.

Score: 4.0/10

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