The SmarK Rant for New Japan on AXS – 05.29.15
Still a week behind, but the show is a year out of date anyway so no big whoop.
Taped from Osaka, Japan (June 21 2014)
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo & Josh Barnett
IWGP Junior tag titles: The Young Bucks vs. The Timesplitters (Kushida & Alex Shelley)
I bet there's some superkicks here. Josh gets an immediate laugh with “Do they really need pockets on their tights? Don't they have space for their possessions in their locker?”. Barnett has a pretty good ratio of funny lines in the shows I've watched so far. Nick stomps away on Kushida and gives him assorted crotch chops (DON'T TELL SHAWN MICHAELS!), but Matt tags in and gets caught in the time travelling corner. I feel like they should never lose because they'd just go back 10 minutes and fix their mistakes. If we were booking realistically. Matt ducks away from a superkick and heads out, but Kushida wipes him out on the floor and the Splitters follow with stereo dives. We're clipped ahead in time (OH THE IRONY), which Mauro actually acknowledges, and Kushida clears the ring again and this time hits a crazy swanton bomb to the floor. Back in, more insane double-teaming from the babyfaces as they do a hit a Shelley Sliced Bread off Kushida's electric chair on Nick. Nick comes back with a tornado DDT on Shelley, but Matt blocks Kushida's Hoverboard lock with a tombstone for two. Matt with a turnbuckle powerbomb on Kushida and Nick hits a 450 while Matt drapes Kushida on the ropes, but that only gets two. Bang For Your Buck misses and Shelley sends the Bucks together in the Tree of Woe, and Kushida follows with the Hoverboard on Nick to win the titles at 8:41 shown (16:50 total according to the graphics). This was just ALL crazy action the whole time. I'm really quite enjoying Kushida on these shows and I hope he wins the BOSJ this year. ****1/4
Takashi Iizuka & Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba
Suzuki is just the grumpiest bastard on earth and he's awesome in his role. Mauro and Josh manage to back all the backstory here into the introductions because they are GREAT and understand how to get stuff like this over for new viewers. LOOKING AT YOU, every other promotion in the world. Iizuka was best known in the US, sort of, for having the piss beat out of him by Rick and Scott Steiner on a WCW show in 1991, but has basically reinvented his career as a batshit crazy old guy with a finisher called the IRON FINGERS. Mostly comedy stuff to start as Iizuka attacks Yano from behind and Suzuki grabs a flying armbar from the apron before everyone goes brawling to the floor. Suzuki chokes Sakuraba down with the bell hammer and they fight into the crowd as we take a break. Back with Iizuka choking himself out with the microphone cord, which Josh attributes to 20 years of concussions, and finally Sakuraba gets a cheapshot from outside to make Iizuka the face-in-peril. The term “babyface” is quite possibly the least apt description for either Iizuka or Sukuzi, perhaps the two ugliest men in NJPW. Suzuki quickly tags in and gets a running boot on Sakuraba, then punts him for two. They trade armbar attempts and choke attempts as an MMA match suddenly breaks out until Iizuka breaks it up with his tag rope. The heels undo the turnbuckle, but Yano ends up going into the steel in a funny sequence. Yano goes low and cradles Suzuki for two, but Iizuka pulls out the ref with relish. Iizuka's nutso act is so entertaining here. Suzuki nails Yano with a chair, Iizuka pulls out the IRON FINGERS FROM HELL, and Suzuki finishes with the Gotch Piledriver at 10:29 shown (15:13 total). The announcers openly bury the match and how shitty it was afterwards, which makes it all the more hilarious. Important distinction: They don't do it WHILE you're watching the match! Looking at you, MAGGLE. Come on, you have to love a match where guys are doing faux-UFC sequences while Iizuka is breaking up pins with wacky Memphis wrestling nonsense at the same time. Was it terrible smoke and mirrors horseshit? Of course. Was I entertained by all the terrible smoke and mirrors? Hell yes. **
IWGP Junior Title: Kota Ibushi vs. Ricochet
There is too much beautiful here for one match to contain, like the plastic bag floating in the breeze in American Beauty. But without stupid Wes Bentley. I guess it's only fair that if I can watch NXT on Wednesday and watch Alexa Bliss and Carmella on a totally superficial level, my wife has the right to ogle these two. Ricochet sends Ibushi to the floor with kicks, and back in for a Zig Zag and standing SSP for two. But, you know, WWE already had one high-flyer with Neville, so that's enough. Low kick gets two. Ricochet tries something like Konnan's Tequila Sunrise, but Ibushi makes the ropes and they trade chops in the corner as we take a break. Back with Ibushi dumping Ricochet and following with a running springboard moonsault to the floor. Back in, Ricochet fires back with a springboard missile dropkick to put Ibushi on the floor, then follows with a NO HANDS somersault dive over the corner post. Holy COW. Back in, GTS gets two. They fight to the top and Kota hits a top rope rana, but Ricochet lands on his FEET and then follows with a pair of brainbusters for two. But, you know, already had one high-flyer, so why would WWE need another one? They hit each other with simultanous high kicks and Ricochet wins that one, but Ibushi hits a lariat with a 360 sell from Ricochet. I am of course a huge mark for anyone that does that. Ibushi with a Last Ride powerbomb for two. Phoenix splash misses, however, and Ricochet gets a Shooting Star Press for two. And we take a break on that note. Back with Ricochet trying the finisher, but Ibushi reverses into a rana for two. Ibushi drops him with a high kick and finishes with the Phoenix-plex (a package powerbomb setup into a bridge suplex) at 13:37 to retain. Just tremendous, jaw-dropping stuff from start to finish. ****1/2
Some shows just make me happy to be a wrestling fan, and this is one of them. I actually subscribe to New Japan World, but the commentary of Mauro and Josh actually makes the shows even BETTER to watch. If you've got an hour to watch some wrestling, this is the episode to check out.