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Strong Style: Don'taku go away!

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IC Title on the line!

Hello, again gang. After a week off we are back with Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.

This week we start a new era of the show as Jim Ross becomes the new play by play man for our weekly look at Japan's best wrestling. Considering this show follows an episode of "The Voice Versus" with good ol' JR, I'd say the network is behind him on this one.

And for Jim's first show in the booth, we go back to May 3rd, 2015 for part 1 of Wrestling Dontaku 2015 held at The International Center in Fukuoka.

We open the show greeted by Hirooki Goto

Kazuchika Okada/YOSHI-HASHI vs. A.J. Styles/Yujiro Takahashi

CHAOS vs. Bullet Club here and a bit of a strange pairing on the Bullet Club side. Takahashi hasn't popped up a whole lot on this show, and here is is teamed up with the current IWGP champion. However, Takahashi was the one who turned on CHAOS to join the Club. Okada and Styles faced off at this event the year before, so there is some history here.

Jim does into a Monday night RAW mode where he tells everyone what matches we will see and where we are. Some things never die. YOSHI and Okada comes out first and Jim puts over Okada as the future of the business. There is some high praise there. Takahashi comes out and looks like a total jobber. He is wearing a Bullet Club muscle shirt with a horrible A.J. Styles entrance video. Styles then comes out by himself.

The match starts instantly in chaos (no pun intended) as all four men go at it. Okada and Styles are left in the ring going back and forth before Okada hits a BIG body drop on Styles. Both go out as YOSHI and Takahashi come in briefly before it's right back to Okada and Styles.

We skip ahead as Okada lands a dropkick and a DDT on Styles. Yuji tags in and Okada lands the flapjack and a near fall. He gets a flying butt bump in the corner before heading up to the top. Yuji gets up as Okada jumps but rolls through. Okada tries for a kick but Yuji counters by grabbing the foot and tossing Okada down. Styles in as he goes for the clash but Okada catches him and drops him with his neck right on the knee. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but AJ Counters into the Pele kick and Okada nails a clothesline.

We come back from break as they both try to get up. YOSHI gets in first and hits a SWEET neckbreaker on Styles. HASHI hangs him on the ropes and nails him for a 2 count broken up by Yuji. CHAOS doubles up on Styles with a splash in the corner and a blockbuster but only gets 2. Things break down again with Styles and HASHI in the ring with Styles hitting a reverse bomb and pulling the tights but only gets two. Yuji hits a high knee and then the Club hits the double suplex. Yuji misses a running splash on Okada.  Styles and YOSHI try to go up, but Styles is sent back down. YOSHI wants to go for something but Yujiro grabs the ankle. Styles gets up and hits a slam off the ropes. He dives off and nails the bloody Sunday DDT and then the stylesclash for the win.

The action does stop though as Okada tries to get in the ring but Styles grabs him and tries for the clash onto the belt, but Okada counters and nearly hits the Rainmaker before Styles scrambles out of the ring and the two have a stare down.

Styles has some words backstage saying that Okada has to beat him for the belt and lays down the challenge.

Okada counters that Styles is a great champion, but he is the one who will take the belt when they meet in July.

Studio words from Goto. He says his desire for the belt isn't as strong as his desire to beat Nakamura up after all the taunting in their last meeting in the tag match (he refers to the IC belt as looking like a 10 yen coin). It's been 3 years since Nakamura beat Goto for this belt and Goto is looking to even the score.

IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto

Oh, this will be good! There is history here as well. 3 years before in a much different time, Goto lost the belt to Nakamura. Shinsuke went on the make the IC title into something big, comparable to the IWGP title in popularity. Then, in a recent tag match shown a few weeks ago, Nakamura insulted goto by making binocular gestures when he face Goto saying that he didn't see Goto on the horizon as a serious challenger to the title. Time to see if Nakamura was right.

Have I mentioned how awesome Hirooki Goto's entrance video and music are? The Samurai indeed. Nakamura then comes out and is awesome. Jim Ross goes over NJPW rules for new fans and we get the full introductions here. This as the main event of this show and it gets treated like it.

Bell rings and we get a stare down to begin before the match starts with some amateur grappling. The crowd gives applause for respect. Knuckle lock gets into the waistlock leads to an early sleeper hold. Nakamura lets go. Goto gets the waistlock into a wristlock that Goto rolls through into a wristlock of his own. Nakamura reverses and Goto reverses that into a headlock. 

Into the ropes with the headlock and Nakamura does not do the belly rub thing. Hoping he would so Goto would knock his block off for it. JR and Josh talk about Danny Hodge and "Strangler" Lewis as guys who could knock guys out with a simple headlock. The conversation is cut short as Goto hauls off and smacks Nakamura right in the face! Nakamura makes the charge but Goto is too quick and dodges out of the way before he starts landing some kicks on Shinsuke and runs Nakamura right out of the ring. Nakamura tries to screw with Goto by making the binoculars motion again.

Goto goes out and Nakamura tries to roll in at the same time but Goto catches him, drags him out and slams him right into the ringpost. A few more kicks to wake Nakamura up before Nakamura sends Goto into the steel barrier. He lays Goto on the broadcaster's table before jumping and hitting a knee right to Goto's head before he hits another knee to the head.

Goto rolls in at 19 and Nakamura kicks him before locking in a chinlock into a headlock.  Goto makes it to the ropes and Shinsuke throws some paltry insult kicks. Asshole. Goto gets up and lands some slaps before Naka sends him down with a knee to the chest. He hits a falling knee but doesn't get the pin. Nakamura knees Goto into the corner before hitting the Good Vibrations but missing the running kick. Goto gets up but Nakamura gets in a waistlock and covers Goto's eyes in the corner. You Can't See Me? Goto gets pissed and goes for a hit but Nakamura lands a clothesline, Goto recovers and nails Nakamura and goes for the pin but doesn't get it. They trade elbows now and it's a standoff. Nakamura counters a whip attempt and goes for the kick but Goto ducks just to get hit with a spin kick himself!

Back from the break, Nakamura gets up first and hits a drastic kick to Goto but Goto's getting mad. Shinsuke hits another kick and then drives in the MMA knees to the head. He floats into a rear choke. They get to their feet in the hold and Nakamura turns it into a Front suplex. Nakamura misses a knee but Goto misses the counter and hangs up on the top rope where he gets a running kick. The pin is only two. Nakamura goes to the second rope but Goto hits a rolling kick to send Nakamura to the floor. Shinsuke climbs in where Goto catches him on the apron where they try to suplex each other. Nakamura goes up but lands back on his feet. He locks in a sleeperhold only for Goto to counter with an Angle slam! Pin attempt gets two. He picks Shinsuke up and hits a knee to the neck. He looks to go for an F-5, but Nakamura tries to wiggle out. Goto hits him with the reverse ushigoroshi (Thanks Mauro for the spelling on this). Somehow Shinsuke gets up and surprises Goto with a big clothesline and then a lung blower. Shinsuke tries for another running kick but Goto moves and lands a BRUTAL clothesline.

We come back from the break with a replay of that hard clothesline we saw. Both get to their knee and start through forearms at each other. They get to their feet still trading shots to the face before Goto goes for the ropes. Nakamura runs the same ropes and hits Goto with a diving kick to the face. Goto rolls to the apron. Nakamura goes to kick him off but misses and gets his leg caught in the rope. Goto drills him and do to the way he twisted, Nakamura's legs gets caught awkwardly in the ropes.  There's a good way to destroy your knee.

Goto doesn't go for the pin but decides to go up to the top rope. Nakamura gets up and climbs up after him. The try to counter out of the superplex position but Goto lands some straight headbutts and gets Nakamura in the superbomb position. Nakamura raises up and sends Goto to the canvas before flying off and hitting the super booma ye! He then runs up and hits a second booma ye! Goto kicks out at two somehow. Both get up as Nakamura goes for a third booma ye knee but Goto counters with a combo of headbutts and another clothesline. He really seems to like those clotheslines. He gathers Nakamura up and gets him on the turnbuckles before climbing up himself. he then hits a SUPER ushigoroshi! Goto goes for the cover but only gets two. Goto ain't done yet as he picks Nakamura up and hits the shotenkai before covering and getting the pin!

Nakamura is carried out. in the back he has nothing to say. He says no one expects anything from Goto. He then, in his own way, challenges for the rematch.

Back in the ring the crowd is chanting for Goto and he thanks them. Good results come to those who don't give up. He thanks Shibata and then leads crowd in a 3 cheers.

Backstage it kenpai time as a bunch of guys cheer and drink to Goto. He is asked about the color of the belt (the belt used to be a bronze color and now is gold with a white strap) and says he won't change it back. That is the past and his focus is to hold the belt for even longer than Nakamura held it.

In the studio He feels like he got a whole new belt since Nakamura made it his own. He says Nakamura is the number 1 guy he doesn't want to lose to. He caught up to Nakamura as a wrestler and went past him.

 

What a pick from this show. Two really good ones here. The tag match was a fast paced show and the main event was just that. Jim did a great job in his own style nd if anything got Josh Barnett to speak more on these shows. I think JR will do fine at this job.

Before I go this week. I have to do part of being a wrestling fan doesn't want to do and say goodbye to one of our heroes. Last night I found out through Mauro Ranallo that Eiji "Hayabusa" Ezaki had passed away at the age of 47 from a hemorrhage on his brain. 

I became aware of Hayabusa in the mid-1990's through the old wrestling magazines of the day. I was reading about the high flying masked guy who was the top star of this small promotion in Japan that blew each other up with  explosives, barbed wire and time bombs. Oddly my first experience of seeing him wrestle was as "Hannibal" in the WCW V/S NWO video game and then from his one high profile match in the U.S. when he and Jinsei Shinseki took on Sabu and RVD at an ECW pay per view back in the day. It wasn't until the Tokyo Pop FMW DVDs were released that I got to see a lot more of him and FMW as well cementing my respect for what he did and love of the character.

Tragically Eiji's career ended when he broke his neck and was paralyzed on a live FMW pay-per-view. Sine FMW lived and died with Hayabusa, the company did the later without it's top hero. Eiji help launch his own promotion, Wrestling's Marvelous Future (see what they did there?) as well as a career as a singer. All from a wheelchair. Last year he was part of an FMW relaunch and held a touching ceremony where he stepped foot inside a wrestling ring, with the help of a cane, for the first time since the accident.

His wrestling career only lasted 10 years, and was a star for less than 6, but he had a big impact on a lot of fans, wrestlers, and anyone who was familiar with him. It seems, for now, that the phoenix has burned out, hopefully, to be reborn again.

Thank you Eiji.

And thank you to all of you. I'll see you next time!

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Soul Tsukino
Soul TsukinoContributor   gamer profile

Soul Tsukino lives in the state of Maine. When not enveloping himself in a new fiction story he also comments on happenings in the animation and Otaku fan scene. A creative writer since he was yo... more + disclosures


 


 


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