Written by: Colin Rinehart
April 3rd, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 2,025 (Sold Out)
Onward we go in our guide to New Japan in 2011, arriving now at the biggest event of April for the company, the New Dimension WPW show. We’ve got a huge main event tonight with the winner of the 2011 New Japan Cup tournament Yuji Nagata taking on the champ Hiroshi Tanahashi for the world title, as well as Ryusuke Taguchi defending the CMLL Welterweight title against young Madoka, one of the best students from the Kaientai Dojo. Most of New Japan’s big players are all booked tonight, so it should be a solid show, let’s get to it.
Killer Rabbits vs. Kyosuke Mikami/Hiromu Takahashi
My god, there are two killer rabbits now? Insert requisite joke about rabbits mating and reproducing constantly here. Still not sure who’s under the masks. Mikami appears to have improved since I last saw him and Takahashi has been making strides himself lately, so this actually winds up being a pretty decent opener. The Rabbits both look surprisingly good tonight too and work well as a team, trading quick tags and using double team maneuvers. Takahashi takes a beatdown for a few minutes before snapping off a hurricanrana on one of the rabbits and getting the hot tag to Mikami, who cleans house for a bit before getting beaten down himself and having to tag out again. Takahashi nearly pins one of the rabbits with a fisherman’s suplex, but it’s broken up and Takahashi eats a superkick while one of the other Rabbits takes out Mikami on the floor with a tope. The other Rabbit spikes Takahashi right on his head with a nasty piledriver to pick up the win at 8:00. This was way better then I was expecting it to be as the Rabbits actually looked really good as a team, especially toward the finishing stretch. Mikami and Takahashi continue to improve, and overall this was a nice way to kick off the show with some of the youngsters. **1/2
Takashi Iizuka/Toru Yano/Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jushin Liger/Tiger Mask IV/Tomoaki Honma
Iizuka of course continues the best gimmick in the world today, which is his rule of starting off every match by attacking one of the commentators at ringside and ripping his clothes off. Liger hits an early frog splash on Iizuka for a near fall before things break down and never really recover. Lots of brawling in this one all around the ring and into the crowd. CHAOS spend most of the match ganging up on Liger, trying to rip his mask off. Liger tags out to TMIV and he delivers a Tiger Driver to longtime rival Ishii followed by a diving headbutt for a two count. Honma and Yano hop in next and Honma takes it to him with a bulldog before missing a missile dropkick. The rest of the guys start brawling out of the ring while Honma hits his own diving headbutt for another hot nearfall. Ishii distracts the ref while Iizuka pulls out his signature metal glove and blasts Honma with it behind the ref’s back, allowing Yano to pin him with the Oni Koroshi powerbomb at 7:51. Pretty fun little chaotic brawl while it lasted, I just love the three-man pairing of Iizuka, Yano, and Ishii together. **
Masato Tanaka/Tetsuya Naito/Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Wataru Inoue/King Fale
Tanaka has been a favorite of mine going all the way back to his ECW days though, so this should be interesting, especially teaming with Naito. Right about here is where I notice a small portion of the fans in attendance are wearing medical surgical masks over their mouths and noses, perhaps due to the earthquake that rocked Japan about a month before this show. Tenzan and Tanaka start the match by trading stiff strikes with one another before they bail and let Naito and Fale lock up. Crowd is surprisingly into Fale here and they love when he rips Naito’s carefully tucked-in t-shirt off. Inoue tags in next but doesn’t get very far before the heels are teaming up on him in their corner and Tanaka is choking him at ringside with a kendo stick. Inoue is able to tag out to Tenzan thanks to some heel miscommunication and he lays headbutts into Naito’s chest. Naito responds with a pretty missile dropkick and then tags out to Tanaka as Tenzan tags out to Fale. They triple team Tanaka for a bit but then Fale becomes the victim of a double team move and eats not one but two Sliding D’s from Tanaka for the win at 11:35. Started kind of shaky but it got pretty good towards the end and the finish was hot. Fale seems to be getting more over with the fans as of late. **1/4
CMLL World Welterweight Title Match
Ryusuke Taguchi © vs. Madoka
Taguchi won this belt from Mascara Dorada a few months back on one of the joint NJPW/CMLL Fantasticamania shows in January (both of which I reviewed if you’re curious) and I think this is his first title defense in Japan since winning it. Madoka is one of the better young guys out of the Kaeintai Dojo whose been getting more and more bookings on bigger shows it seems. Taguchi is so over I fully expect he’s at the very top of the “To be Pushed” list in the company and wouldn’t be surprised if he won the IWGP Jr. title by next year. Excellent opening sequence of moves from both guys before Madoka hits a beautiful moonsault off the second turnbuckle onto Taguchi on the outside floor. Back in the ring they each target one another’s legs for some limbwork and Madoka and Taguchi both seem to be favoring the injuries already. Madoka works over Taguchi’s arm as well, all the while selling his own leg wonderfully. Taguchi delivers a trio of rolling vertical suplexes but it only gets a two count. Madoka gets nailed with a sickening enziguri and then eats a gourdbuster, but still he kicks out at two. Madoka fires off an impressive top rope super-frankensteiner, but Taguchi still manages to fight out of it. Taguchi responds with a Tiger Suplex followed by the Dodon and that’s enough to give him the pin to retain his title at 12:17. Aw man, this one cut off right when it was starting to get really good. Madoka looked great again here and Taguchi continues to impress. Not on par with the usual Devitt title defenses or anything, but fine work by both men. ***1/4
Shinsuke Nakamura/Jado/Gedo vs. Manabu Nakanishi/Kota Ibushi/Kenny Omega
Oh hell yes, it’s about time Kenny Omega was brought back by New Japan. This guy can and has had great matches with everyone, including an inflatable doll (Google: Yoshihiko if you’re curious). Omega and Jado start us off with some great leapfrog and hold exchanges before Nakanishi quickly tags in and starts dishing out downright nasty knife edge chops to Jado, who quickly tags out to Gedo. Gedo tries to out-chop Nakanishi, and take one wild guess how well that works out for him. Hint: not well. Ibushi hops in the ring and gets down on one knee and points to Nakamura as if he were challenging him to some sort of mythic triathlon of the gods. Nakamura obliges, and shit gets real. Nakamura’s feeling funky and he dances a bit while laying in knees to Ibushi before they both square off and just start laying huge kicks and strikes into each other like this was a K-1 fight. Ibushi’s speed is remarkable, but Nakamura is able to outsmart him and tag out to Jado. Gedo and Jedo trade quick tags and start working over Ibushi’s leg. They work him over a bit until Nakamura hops back in to lay in vicious knees to the gut, which seems to piss off Omega. Jado locks on a deep figure four on Ibushi for a bit, but he gets the rope break. Ibushi tries fighting back but eats a second-rope assisted DDT from Gedo. By god, could Randy Orton be a Gedo fan? Ibushi hits a sweet pele kick and then exits the ring so Omega can wipe out the Jado and Gedo with a body-press. He gives them a double bulldog for a two count. Omega tries for a dragon suplex, but Gedo counters into the crossface submission! Ibushi breaks it up and we’ve got ourselves a mini battle of the tag teams here as Ibushi and Omega hit their trademark Finlay-roll/standing shooting star press combo on both Jado and Gedo for another near fall. They step it up a notch though and take out both Jado and Gedo with a beautiful pair of stereo moonsaults onto the floor! Nakamura breaks up Omega’s ocean cyclone suplex attempt and the crowd rallies up and just explodes when Omega crawls to get the hot tag to Nakanishi. He catches Nakamura in mid-air and tosses him to the floor with a slam, and then follows him out with a pescado! Air Nakanishi! He hits a fucking missile dropkick on Nakamura even, but Nakamura has the balls to kick out. By god just put the juniors title on Nakanishi right now man. Nakamura nails him with a spin kick and a lung-blower and sets up for the Boma Ye, but Nakanishi counters into a torture rack and tosses him aside. He turns Nakamura inside out with a sleeper suplex in a pretty dangerous spot (his hands were too high on Nakamura’s chest), but Nakamura gets that jolt of adrenaline and nails him in the back of the head with the Boma Ye knee. He delivers a second Boma Ye and that’s enough to put Nakanishi away at 16:31. This was just an outstanding six man tag match here with all sorts of good stuff going on. Nakamura and Ibushi’s mini kickboxing battle was great, Jado & Gedo worked over Ibushi perfectly as the heels and the heat for Nakanishi’s tag at the end was huge. Throw in a few crazy high spots and this was just a flat out fun affair. ***1/2
Satoshi Kojima/TAKA Michinoku vs. Togi Makabe/KUSHIDA
When the hell did KUSHIDA start coming out to a cheesy J-pop rendition of “The Touch”? Awesome. This is an interesting tag team match-up and the crowd gives Kojima a ton of heat coming in. Makabe and Kojima start us off with the usual battle of the shoulder-blocks before trading big open palm chops, a battle which Makabe appears to win before Kojima rakes his eyes, lariats him, and then taunts the crowd to some massive heat. God damn I love Korakuen Hall, unlike other venues in Japan these people actually care and are loud and vocal. Taichi is with Kojima and TAKA at ringside I should mention as well. Back in the ring KUSHIDA works some fun stuff in with TAKA. I’d love to see these two face off in a singles match, I’m sure it’s happened before (educate me if so Ryan Byers!). Makabe does a good job of playing the frustrated big brother in the corner while little bro KUSHIDA gets his ass handed to him by the two crafty old veteran heels. Kojima really lays in the chops on KUSHIDA and the crowd is just going wild, it’s crazy the nuclear heat that Kojima is getting here tonight. KUSHIDA fights him off with a stiff enziguri and finally gets the hot tag to Makabe, but the crowd doesn’t seem as in to him as they were KUSHIDA. Makabe hits a northern lights suplex for a near fall on Kojima. Kojima responds with a DDT but winds up eating a sick lariat anyways. Kojima fires off some elbows and an ace crusher on the big man and then tags out to TAKA. Makabe promptly makes TAKA his bitch with a suplex and then tags out to KUSHIDA, who’s got his second wind going and hits a nice moonsault for a two count. Makabe and KUSHIDA gang up on TAKA for a bit but Kojima manages to break it up. KUSHIDA hits a Muta-esque moonsault, but as the ref goes to count for three Taichi pulls him out of the ring! Taichi hops into the ring, superkicks KUSHIDA, and then tosses the ref back into the ring as TAKA delivers the Michinoku Driver II to put KUSHIDA away at 16:31! This one started off a little slow but picked up real quick and the heat for the match was off the charts from bell to bell. KUSHIDA did great as the babyface in peril, the heels used dastardly and devious tricks to defeat their opponents, and this wound up being a hell of an entertaining little match. ***
After the match all four men continue brawling until they have to be separated by some of the students and the other wrestlers from the back. They talk for a bit, presumably setting up more battles between these factions in the future.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs. Yuji Nagata
Big time title match here between two guys who have had some absolutely killer matches together in the past. Both men lock up and Nagata lays a few stiff kicks into Tanahashi’s leg as Hiroshi seems very cautious to start with the veteran. Nagata slaps him in the face and locks a deep guillotine choke hold in, but Tanahashi slips out and applies a grapevined ankle lock briefly. Nagata baits his younger opponent in with the promise of another Greco-Roman hold and than just shoves him down like a rookie. Both men trade forearms in the corner and Tanahashi makes the mistake of celebrating after a basic body slam and pays for it. Tanahashi tries to duck a kick from Nagata but again the veteran outsmarts him by feinting a kick and then laying a real, much stiffer one into his chest to send Tanahashi out to the floor for a time-out. When he returns to the ring Nagata lays in a devastating series of knees. He misses a big boot though and Tanahashi gives him a dragon-screw legwhip over the top rope and to the floor before following him out with a big tope con hilo off the apron! We get a simply killer camera shot here of Shinsuke Nakamura (Tanahashi’s longtime main rival for those unaware) sitting in the front row watching the match with this look on his face of utter apathy and boredom as if these two were putting him to sleep. Back inside Tanahashi locks on a figure four in the middle of the ring but eventually Nagata is able to break the hold, but not before the damage has been done to his leg. Tanahashi follows up with a flurry of kicks to the same leg and Nagata counters with a huge running knee to Tanahashi’s gut, but it’s the same leg that Tanahashi’s been working on so he collapses as well from the blow. Nagata goes back to working his kicks and then decides to start working on the arm, applying a Fujiwara armbar. Tanahashi fights back with his other forearm and then targets Nagata’s leg again. Nagata counters with a huge release Dragon suplex that nearly kills Hiroshi and then gives him an exploder for a two count. Back on their feet both men resort to a straight up slap-boxing match, and things are starting to get stiff here as Nagata just destroys Tanahashi with slaps as the crowd chants his name. Nagata tries for a body slam but his leg gives out under him so Tanahashi goes right back to work on it with a pair of Dragon-screw legwhips. He locks on a deep Texas clover-leaf, cranking away on Nagata’s neck in a fashion similar to Chris Jericho’s original Lion Tamer. Nagata uses ever last bit of strength left in him to get the rope break and struggles back to his feet only to meet the Sling Blade from Tanahashi. Cross-legged Michinoku Driver from Tanahashi gets a close two count. He comes off the top rope but Nagata nails him again in the gut with a huge knee. He hits another running knee in the corner and then tries for a top rope exploder, headbutting his opponent nearly unconscious before giving him an overhead belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope, but Tanahashi somehow kicks out! Nagata tries a brainbuster, but still he can’t get a 3 count. Tanahashi counters a Saito suplex attempt for a near fall of his own and then yet again targets Nagata’s leg with a dropkick. Nagata counters into a nasty armbreaker though (making one of his trademark “constipated fury” faces in the process) and Tanahashi barely makes it to the ropes. Nagata tries a pair of Saito suplexes, but that won’t do the trick either so he tries for one off the top rope, but Tanahashi counters into a bridging Aztec German suplex and again Nagata kicks out. Finally Tanahashi delivers the High Fly Flow frog splash and is able to put Nagata away to retain at 35:30. Just an outstanding match. They did an excellent job of establishing Nagata in the early going as the veteran with all of the answers and counters to Tanahashi’s tricks, and Tanahashi played the brash young gun who had underestimated his opponent to perfection. Add in the ongoing psychology of the continued limb-work and selling throughout the match and a red-hot crowd and you’ve got an early Match of the Year candidate for NJPW. ****¼
After the match Masato Tanaka shows up and gets on the mic to presumably set up a rematch between him and Nagata down the line. Tanahashi calls Shinsuke Nakamura out of the audience and he hits the ring to say a few words to him as the logical next title defense for Tanahashi would be Nakamura as well. Nagata puts over Tanahashi and they shake hands in a sign of mutual respect as we close out the show.
Bottom Line: This was one heck of a show really, New Japan seems to always deliver when it comes time for the sporadic PPVs, and this was no exception. You’ve got an easy contender for New Japan match of the year in the main event, and an undercard full of several matches ranging from good to damned good. A minimum of filler, this was just a lean, mean, strong style machine of a show and an easy Thumbs Up from me.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.