By Mark Worrall @hoohoowozza
The first of the three Destruction shows emanates from Fukushima in the north east of Japan’s main island of Honshu. The show title is perhaps suitably named after the recent tragedies that have struck this city in recent years with the Nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 and the Tsunami in 2016. Maybe that is the reason as the follow up shows are to be held in Hiroshima on the 16th and Kobe on the 24th, another earthquake site from recent memory. The first of the shows is headlined by Minoru Suzuki defending his Never Openweight title against Michael Elgin. Alongside the main event two other titles will be defended with the heavyweight tag titles up for grabs and the Never Openweight six-man titles also on the line.
JUGI NAGATA & HIRAI KAWATO defs. MANABU NAKANISHI & SHOTA UMINO
The dad’s teaming up with the young lions for a nice little opener that went just over five minutes as Nagata and Nakanishi opened up with the latter surprisingly getting the better of their opening encounter before the lions stepped in with both Kawato and Umino looking good for the future with Kawato recklessly showing no fear by openly attacking Nakanishi who was having none of it nailing a big fist to send Kawato to the mat. Their seemed a little bit of tension between the dads throughout but it would be Umino taking the loss as Nagata hit an exploder following up with a crossface that found the young lion submitting. Enjoyable opener.
HIROOKI GOTO & YOSHI HASHI defs. TOMOYUKI OKA & KATSUYA KITAMURA
The bigger of the young lions facing two members of Chaos with the impressively built Kitamura going one better as he exchanges barges with Yoshi Hashi as he aggressively takes the edge until Choas decide to play around with him until a struggle for suplex supremacy with Goto sees Kitamura come out on top which enables him to tag in Oka as they work fairly well as a team on Goto. However it would be Goto who puts away Oka who manages to escape a Boston Crab attempt only to receive a strong kick to the chest that gives Goto the pin. Another decent effort with the Lions showing a good attitude and great promise.
CHASE OWENS/YUJIRO TAKAHASHI defs. BERETTA/JADO
Jado provided some comedic moments at the start of what was a nothing tag match which for me attempted to highlight Beretta as he moves into the heavyweight division, and it has to be noticed that the crowd responded to his high offence exampled by the flip over the top rope to ringside taking out both members of the Bullet Club. However the Bullet club bottom feeders would pick up the win as Yujiro hit a short DDT on Jado keeping Beretta protected from eating the pin.
JUICE ROBINSON/DAVID FINLAY defs. LEO TONGA/BAD LUCK FALE
Haku must have been a busy man during his run in the eighties and nineties as another sibling joins the New Japan roster although the current young Lion is a replacement for the injured Kenny Omega, he has a long way to go if this performance as anything to do with his growth as a wrestler. Tonga and Bad Luck Fale had no chemistry what so ever in a bad match that saw Fale and Tonga take their opponents ringside to try and dominate the match before the match finally ended when a Finlay punch enabled Robinson to plant Loa with ‘Pulp Friction’ to pick up the victory! Best part of the match was Juice attempting to take a scarf from a fan that simply refused to let go of his precious merchandize!!
TAGUCHI JAPAN (Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ricochet, Kushida) & Togi Makabe defs. SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado, Taka Michanoku, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Lizuka)
Crowd enjoyed this ten man match that was fine as we headed towards the break. Of course plenty of Suzuki-Gun antics as always they battled Taguchi Japan ringside to gain an advantage, although poor Taguchi would have his backside bitten by ridiculous Lizuka who also would later attempt to take a chunk out of Tanahashi’s arm! Ricochet was the star as his offence was awesome as he unleashed on all members of Gun. Taichi then took to hitting Tanahashi with his patterned ring hammer and the match became a free for all with Taguchi finally rolling up Taka for the win. Standard ten man, nothing special, but nothing harmful either, good fun, and a nice scene post match as Taguchi Japan posed with an array of titles.
IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
WAR MACHINE defs. KILLER ELITE SQUAD & GUERILLAS OF DESTINY
What the heavyweight tag division needs more than anything is an all Japanese tag team, and a regular outfit at that and not just a couple of bottom feeder singles wrestlers making up a team. The crowd had little interest in this match at all. KES for their credit looked a little more hungry as they return to the title picture after Archer’s injury layoff. War Machine has been dominating the tag scene around the world, and for me personally, I love me some War Machine. This match did struggle though and so did Hanson whose attempt at a handspring cutter looked rather sloppy. However a title defence is always good and War Machine retained putting Tonga Roa away to keep their titles. GOD for their part were simply just shadows as they showed very little.
TETSUYA NAITO & HIROMU TAKAHASHI defs. TOMOHIRO ISHII & WILL OSPREAY
Ishii’s victory over Naito during the G1 tournament offers the pitbull a shot at Naito’s Dome briefcase at King of Pro wrestling, how I would love to see Ishii win that briefcase and headline Wrestle Kingdom against Okada! Wishful thinking I guess as both kept their relative distance during this tag match that was very enjoyable as Ospreay worked hard throughout and provided most of the highlights as he had some really good offensive exchanges against Takahashi. Ospreay’s Spanish fly on Naito was excellent but it was not enough to help him avoid the pin as Takahashi’s blatant distraction of the ref enabled Naito to hit the ‘Destino’ on Ospreay as LIJ take the win.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX-MAN CHAMPIONSHIP
EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA defs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA, ROCKY ROMERO & TORU YANO
Evil has an opportunity for the IWGP title at King of Pro Wrestling after his surprise victory over current champion Okada at the G1 tournament, so this six- man enabled Evil to come out looking good as the six-man champions from LIJ beat on poor Romero, who looked a little lost without his former partner Baretta to begin with before Yano relied on his usual antics that included untying the ringpost which backfired as Sanada used it as a weapon. To be fair, Bushi and Romero had a good back and forth with‘sliced bread’ from Romero getting a near fall. Evil, able to counter an attempted rainmaker from Okada nails the STO as Bushi nails Romero with a jaw breaker as Romero eats the pin and LIJ retain the six-man titles.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – LUMBERJACK MATCH
MINORU SUZUKI(c) defs. MICHAEL ELGIN
Elgin’s victory over Suzuki at the G1 tournament gives the big man a title shot at the Never Openweight title. Of course Elgin is no stranger to New Japan gold as the former Intercontinental champion used his strength to overpower Suzuki who struggled to keep up with the younger and stronger man in Elgin who would get the better of any forearm exchange and a standing suplex gave Elgin an opportunity to give a middle finger to the watching Suzuki-Gun lumberjacks. As it happens it would be the Gun Lumberjacks that would finally get hold of Elgin as big mike felt the railing as his Taguchi Japan lumberjacks were currently sidelined by the rest of Gun. This changed the course of the match as Suzuki was able to keep up with Elgin’s forearms as they exchanged blows for a second time on a much weaker Elgin. This match was plagued by interference like most Gun matches do, and even Taguchi Japan could not keep Suzuki-Gun at bay. Elgin did find an avenue to hit the Elgin bomb but the count was stopped as ‘Red shoes’ found himself dragged away from the ring as KES made an appearance but were run out of the building by War Machine. Lizuka would appear on the ramp and would play a big part in the finish of the match as he nailed the challenger with a metal hand that allowed Suzuki to plant his Gotch piledriver and a ‘successful’ championship retain. Elgin worked his butt off in the is match but it was not a good main event, the constant interference,
together with the fact that lumberjack matches suck added to a match that the crowd did not seem into and what could have been a really good match left alone as a singles match was ruined by Suzuki-Gun nonsense.
The first of the Destruction shows comes to an end; unfortunately this show did not produce the kind of shows that New Japan is known for. The main event struggled and so did the tag title match. This seemed like an elevated road to show and the crowd seemed to sit on their hands a lot, however with another two shows to come, let’s hope they only get better