New Japan Wrestling Dontaku 2014
A Review by Kevin Wilson

Date:  May 3rd, 2014
Location:  Fukuoka International Center
Announced Attendance:  7,190 ( Super No Vacancy)

It is not too often I get to review an event the day after it takes place, so when I get the chance I tend to take full advantage even if it does mean I am skipping ahead a bit.  The “Wrestling Dontaku” events are held annually in New Japan during “Golden Week” in Japan.  It is always a big show and this one is no different with five title matches, including Styles challenging Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.  Here is the full card:

- Captain New Japan, El Desperado, BUSHI, and Mascara Dorada vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA, and Yohei Komatsu
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks vs. Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov
- Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin vs. Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Satoshi Kojima  vs. Wes Brisco
- Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kota Ibushi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
- NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga
- Daniel Gracie and Rolles Gracie vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazushi Sakuraba
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs. AJ Styles

On paper this has some potential, with several matches having a real chance to be awesome.  Let’s hope for the best!

Captain New Japan, El Desperado, BUSHI, and Mascara Dorada vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA, and Yohei Komatsu
Captain New Japan and Tenzan start things off.  Tie-up, Captain New Japan pushes Tenzan into the ropes and he gives a clean break.  Tie-up again, side headlock by Captain New Japan, Tenzan Irish whips out of it and they collide with neither man going down.  Captain New Japan goes off the ropes but he can’t knock Tenzan over, he tries again but Tenzan hits a shoulderblock.  Tenzan headbutts Captain New Japan and hits a Mongolian Chop.  Tenzan punches Captain New Japan in the corner and tags in KUSHIDA, so Captain New Japan tags in Dorada.  Dorada and KUSHIDA circle each other, trip by KUSHIDA and he goes off the ropes, they run back and forth and eventually Dorada hits a hurricanrana.  KUSHIDA falls out of the ring, Dorada goes to do a dive but flips himself back into the ring and poses.  KUSHIDA slides back in and tags in Tiger Mask while BUSHI also tags in.  Tiger Mask applies a side headlock, BUSHI Irish whips out of it and Tiger Mask hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.  Tiger Mask dropkicks BUSHI in the face and tags in Komatsu.  Komatsu elbows BUSHI and throws him into the corner, stomping him down to a seated position.  Armdrag by Komatsu and he applies a camel clutch.  Komatsu picks up BUSHI and tags in KUSHIDA, BUSHI tries to reach his corner but KUSHIDA hits a snapmare and dropkicks BUSHI in the head.  Cover by KUSHIDA but it gets a two count.  KUSHIDA tags in Tiger Mask and they yank on BUSHI’s leg.  Kick to the back by Tiger Mask and he kicks BUSHI again.  BUSHI fights back with elbows but Tiger Mask kicks him in the stomach and hits the Tiger Driver for a two count.  Irish whip by Tiger Mask to the corner but BUSHI moves when Tiger Mask charges in and kicks him back.  Missile dropkick by BUSHI and he tags in Captain New Japan while Tiger Mask tags in Tenzan. 

Punches by Captain New Japan, Irish whip, reversed, and Tenzan trips Captain New Japan.  Mongolian Chops by Tenzan into the corner, Irish whip, and Tenzan hits a lariat.  Tenzan then goes on the top turnbuckle and hits Captain New Japan with the calf branding.  Cover, but Dorada breaks it up.  Tenzan stomps Captain New Japan, Irish whip, but Captain New Japan hits a jumping shoulderblock and tags in El Desperado.  Tiger Mask is also tagged in, El Desperado dropkicks Tiger Mask out of the ring.  KUSHIDA tries to interfere but El Desperado ducks his attack and KUSHIDA falls out of the ring as well.  Tenzan comes in and he hits a heel kick on El Desperado before tagging in Komatsu.  Komatsu dropkicks El Desperado, Irish whip by Komatsu, reversed, and Komatsu hits a jumping double chop.  Komatsu puts El Desperado in a crab hold but breaks the hold when BUSHI runs into the ring.  All of Komatsu’s team mates come in the ring and they hit running strikes on El Desperado in the corner.  Komatsu grabs El Desperado and hits the half hatch suplex hold, but the pin attempt is broken up.  Carnage ensues with Dorada being awesome, then BUSHI gets a running start and sails out of the ring onto KUSHIDA with a tope suicida.  Tiger Mask goes up to the top turnbuckle and does a plancha splash down onto KUSHIDA, and Dorada follows with a swandive corkscrew plancha onto Tenzan.  Tenzan knocks Captain New Japan out of the ring, leaving just Komatsu and El Desperado in it.  German suplex hold by Komatsu, but El Desperado kicks out at two.  Komatsu grabs El Desperado around the waist, reversed by El Desperado, but Komatsu rolls him up for a two count.  School boy by Komatsu but that gets a two count as well.  Komatsu goes for an inside cradle but El Desperado blocks it and hits a brainbuster for a two count.  El Desperado scoops up Komatsu and hits the Guitarra del Angel, cover, and El Desperado picks up the three count.  Your winners:  Captain New Japan, El Desperado, BUSHI, and Mascara Dorada

Match Thoughts:  A fun way to open the card (this was technically the ‘dark match’ for the event).   It was of course simple and with so many wrestlers they didn’t really get into any type of structure but all the wrestlers got at least a second to shine.  Komatsu has a lot of fire and seems to be improving, it will be fun to see how high up the ladder he can get over the next few years.  They kept it short so it didn’t get old, but not so short that the match was completely pointless.  It probably would have been better with one less on each team but as an opener it served its purpose and was a decent match.  Score:  5.5

(c) The Young Bucks vs. Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.  Nick and Koslov start things off.  Tie-up, Koslov gets Nick in the ropes and he gives a clean break.  Kick to the stomach by Nick, Irish whip, reversed, and Koslov hits a wheelbarrow into an armdrag.  They go through another exchange which Koslov gets the better of, and Koslov hits an armdrag.  Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Koslov and Nick tags in Matt.  Romero tags in as well, Matt and Romero circle each other, tie-up, side headlock by Matt, Romero Irish whips out of it but Matt shoulderblocks him down.  Monkey flip by Matt but Romero lands on his feet, Matt charges Romero but Romero moves and Matt falls out of the ring.  Jumping knee by Romero on Matt from the apron to the floor and he rolls him back into the ring.  Romero tags in Koslov, scoop slam by Romero and Koslov hits a slingshot body press for a two count.  Koslov trips Matt and tags in Romero, Romero goes off the ropes but he doesn’t kick Matt, which leads to Koslov and Romero arguing.  They both  hit an armdrag on Matt and they end up hugging it out.  Romero kicks Matt and punches him in the head, Irish whip, Matt slides out of the ring but Romero slides out after him.  Romero chases Matt but Nick kicks him from the apron.  Nick stomps Koslov on the floor while Matt slides Romero back into the ring, Matt waits for Romero to get up and punches him into the corner. Matt tags in Nick, Nick gets a running start and rakes Romero in the back.  Nick picks up Romero and yanks on his arm before tagging in Matt, Matt goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a double ax handle onto Romero’s arm.  Matt throws Romero into the corner and stomps him to a seated position.  Romero tries to push him back to tag in Koslov, but Matt blocks him and tags in Nick.  Nick clubs Romero in the back, snapmare by Nick and he rakes Romero in the face.  Punch by Romero to the chest but Nick hits a back kick and tags in Matt.  Matt kicks Romero in the ribs, double Irish whip and they hit a double back elbow followed by a superkick and a backbreaker/neckbreaker combination.  Cover, but Koslov breaks it up.  Matt chokes Romero and gets him into the corner, he puts Romero on the top turnbuckle and joins him, but Romero rakes Matt in the eyes.  Missile dropkick by Romero, he tries to tag in Koslov but Matt drives him back into the corner and tags in Nick. 

Nick picks up Romero, Irish whip, but Romero elbows him.  Matt pulls Romero out of the ring, Nick goes out to the apron and tries to kick Romero but Romero moves and Nick kicks Matt by accident.  Romero gets back into the ring with Nick following, Romero hits an enzigieri and finally tags in Koslov.  Swandive body press by Koslov to Nick, he goes off the ropes and hits a spinning headscissors.  Matt comes in the ring but Koslov hits a swandive missile dropkick on him, Irish whip to Nick, reversed, and Koslov sails out of the ring with a tope suicida onto Matt.  Koslov slides back in the ring and kicks Nick in the head, he gets his Russian hat and kicks Nick repeatedly while wearing it.  Running doublestomp by Koslov, cover, but it gets a two count.  Koslov picks up Nick and  goes for a suplex but Matt catches him.  Romero comes in the ring, they throw Nick and Matt into the corner and both hit running strikes.  Koslov picks up Romero and drives him knee-first into both Nick and Matt, Koslov drapes Nick on the ropes and Romero hits a missile dropkick.  Cover by Koslov but it gets a two count.  Koslov puts Nick up on his shoulders but Nick gets away as Matt comes into the ring, knee by Nick in the corner Matt hits an assisted Asai DDT followed by a running knee by Nick.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Matt picks up Koslov and they go for the MBFYB but Koslov pushes Matt away.  Irish whip by Koslov to Nick but Nick elbows him back.  Superkick by Nick and both wrestlers are down hurt.  Both wrestlers tag in their partners, and Romero hits a hurricanrana onto Matt.  Lariat by Romero in the corner and a second one, but Matt ducks the third.  Romero hits another lariat anyway, he goes for the Shiranui but Matt pushes him off and hits a spear.  Matt goes up to the top turnbuckle but Romero kicks him before he can jump off.  Avalanche Frankensteiner by Romero, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Romero charges Matt in the corner but he moves and Nick kicks Romero from the apron.  Nick gets in the ring, he picks up Romero and with Matt they go for a double back suplex, but Romero lands on his feet.  Matt and Nick both superkick Romero out of the ring, but Koslov blocks it when they try to do the same to him.  Koslov gets Matt onto his shoulders and Romero hits the swandive Doomsday Device, cover, but Nick barely breaks it up in time.  Koslov and Nick trade elbows but Nick dumps Koslov out of the ring and hits a moonsault from the apron down onto Koslov.  Romero kicks Matt in the ring but mm reverses the Michinoku Driver into an assisted Tombstone Piledriver.  Cover, but Koslov breaks it up.  Koslov punches both Nick and Matt, but they throw him into the corner.  Koslov fights them off again but when he goes for a swandive move he eats a double superkick.  Matt picks up Romero and with Nick they deliver the More Bang for Your Buck.  Cover by Matt, and he picks up the three count.  Your winners and still champions:  The Young Bucks

Match Thoughts:  The match time listed on various sites is quite wrong for what it matters, the match was actually over 15 minutes so it got more time than it looked like.  A pretty entertaining match, a lot of the Young Bucks matches look pretty similar and this one didn’t do anything special to set it apart but it was still fun.  Needless to say both of these teams know each other well so the action was very smooth, no real mishaps or (unintentional) misunderstandings, and they kept the pace up for the entire match.  Aside from the feeling of “I have seen this before….” it was a very solid title match.  Score:  6.5

Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin vs. Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka
They start brawling at ringside before the match can even start, with Suzuki hitting Yano with a chair.  Elsewhere Benjamin is beating Iizuka around the ring and he throws him into the guard rail.  Benjamin picks up Iizuka and slams him on the floor at ringside.  TAKA  Michinoku and Taichi help out as well as Iizuka is further beaten down at ringside.  Suzuki tags in Benjamin who enters the ring with Yano, and Benjamin hits an armbreaker.  Benjamin applies an armbar but Yano quickly gets a foot on the ropes.  Benjamin picks up Yano and hits a scoop slam, cover, but again he gets two.  Mounted punches by Benjamin, he picks up Yano and hits another scoop slam.  Benjamin tags in Suzuki and Suzuki yanks on Yano’s arm before applying an armbar.  Yano gets into the ropes to force a break, Suzuki wraps Yano’s arm around the top rope and twists on it.  Benjamin comes in the ring to talk to the referee while Suzuki throws Yano out of the ring and hits Iizuka with a steel chair.  Suzuki gets a part of the guard rail and throws that at Iizuka as well before sliding Yano back into the ring.  Benjamin covers Yano but it gets a two count.  Benjamin picks up Yano, Irish whip from the corner but Yano avoids the splash and tags in Iizuka.  Iizuka chokes Benjamin with his tape and he fights off everyone including Taichi and Michinoku.  Iizuka chokes Benjamin, Benjamin gets out of it but Iizuka hits an atomic drop.  Superkick by Benjamin and he tags in Suzuki while Iizuka tags in Yano.  Suzuki throws Yano into the corner, Yano moves when Suzuki charges in but Suzuki kicks Yano in the back.  Suzuki kicks Yano out of the ring before joining him, he tries to throw Yano into the guard rail but Yano reverses it.  Iizuka and Benjamin battle at ringside while back in the ring Suzuki picks up Yano and applies the sleeper.  Iizuka comes in and chokes Suzuki which brings in Benjamin, who hits Iizuka back out of the ring.  Yano throws Suzuki into the exposed corner and gets some handcuffs, he tries to handcuff Suzuki to the ropes but he is hit from ringside by a steel chair.  Suzuki punches Yano against the ropes and he handcuffs Yano to the second rope.  Knees by Suzuki and he chokes Yano in the ropes.  The referee tries to stop him but Suzuki pushes him away, and after doing it again he is DQed.  Your winners:  Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka

Match Thoughts: A pretty average brawl at best, Suzuki and Benjamin are not 'natural' brawlers so at times I was wondering why Suzuki wasn't dropping people with piledrivers instead of brawling around the ring. Benjamin always seemed out of place, I know he is in Suzuki's faction but he came across as the third wheel. Suzuki getting DQed was silly as he can beat Yano whenever he wants and the referee gave him more than enough chances, it makes sense when a heel cheats and gets DQed, but in a match with such laid back rules in the first place it just didn't seem necessary or that it really continued the story. So not a very good match. Score: 4.0

(c) Satoshi Kojima  vs. Wes Brisco
This match is for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.  Tie-up to start, side headlock by Kojima, Brisco Irish whips out of it but Kojima shoulderblocks him down.  Tie-up, Brisco slams Kojima to the mat and hits a series of mounted punches.  Kojima rolls him over and punches him back, and Brisco bails out of the ring to re-group. Kojima goes out after him and kicks Brisco in the stomach, and Kojima argues with Sharpe.  This gives Brisco a chance to hit him from behind, and Brisco hits a DDT on the floor.  Brisco picks up Kojima and throws him into the guard rail. Brisco slides Kojima back into the ring and yanks back on his leg.  Elbow drop to the leg by Brisco and he applies a leg lock.  Kojima gets a hand in the ropes to force a break which Brisco eventually does, cover by Brisco but it gets a two count.  Another cover by Brisco but again it gets two.  Brisco gets Kojima into the corner and hits a series of punches followed by a lariat.  Irish whip by Brisco  to the corner but Kojima moves when he charges in.  Rapid fire chops by Kojima in the corner, Irish whip, and he hits the jumping elbow followed by the elbow drop.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Kojima picks up Brisco but Brisco elbows him off and the two trade blows.  Kojima gets the better of it and hits a roaring elbow, he picks up Brisco and hits a Koji Cutter.  Cover by Kojima, but it gets a two count.  Kojima goes for a suplex but Brisco lands on his feet and hits a chop block to Kojima’s injured leg.  Brisco applies the figure four leglock but Kojima gets a hand on the ropes.  Brisco punches Kojima in the knee and applies the figure four leglock again, but again Kojima gets into the ropes.  Brisco goes off the ropes and hits a swinging neckbreaker, cover, but Kojima kicks out.  Brisco picks up Kojima and hits a TKO, cover, but Kojima barely gets a shoulder up.  Brisco picks up Kojima and goes for a suplex, but Kojima blocks it and hits a brainbuster.  Cover by Kojima, but it gets a two count.  Kojima pulls down the elbow pad and hits the lariat, cover, and he picks up the three count.  Your winner and still champion:  Satoshi Kojima

Match Thoughts: Lots of questions were running through my head while I watched this match, the most common one was "Why?". The biggest issue with the match, besides that Brisco getting a title shot is random, is that Brisco was beaten way too easily. He dominates the match, lots of leg work which was fine (although ultimately forgotten), but he gets pinned after one brainbuster and a lariat. Since when did Kojima win with just one lariat, usually it takes a handful of them and this was a title match. Not that I am advocating overkill, but I wouldn't have minded if Brisco had shown a bit of adversity here instead of being defeated the first chance he got. Kojima is nowhere near the wrestler he used to be to be able to carry a match like this, not that he was trying to, and I thought overall the match was pretty flat. Score: 3.5 

Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi
Shibata and Nagata start things off.  They jockey for position to start the match, Shibata gets Nagata into the ropes and bops him in the head before backing off.  Nagata responds by throwing Shibata out of the ring and throwing him into the guard rail.  Big boot by Nagata, he picks up Shibata and knees him in the chest.  Clubs to the back by Nagata and he tries to throw Shibata into the railing again, but Shibata reverses it and kicks Nagata in the head.  Shibata throws Nagata into the ring post before sliding him back into the ring.  Nagata slaps Shibata and Shibata slaps him back before they start trading elbows, more elbows by Nagata but Shibata knocks him back.  Shibata tags in Goto and Nagata makes the tag to Nakanishi.  Side headlock by Goto, Nakanishi Irish whips out of it and they collide with neither man going down.  They collide again before they start trading chops and slaps to the chest, throat trust by Nakanishi to Goto and he tags in Nagata.  Double Irish whip to Goto and they hit a double shoulderblock.  Armbreaker by Nagata to Goto and he kicks him in the arm repeatedly.  Nagata picks up Goto and tags in Nakanishi, Nakanishi goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits an axe handle to Goto’s arm.  Chop to the chest by Nakanishi but Goto chops him back.  Nakanishi tags in Nagata and Nagata kicks Goto in the chest several times.  Goto returns to his feet, Nagata goes off the ropes but Goto hits a lariat.  Goto tags in Shibata, and Shibata kicks Nagata in the chest.  Nagata fires back with elbows and they trade shots back and forth, knees by Nagata but Shibata knees him back. 

Kicks by Shibata and he boots Nagata but Nagata returns the favor until Shibata knocks Nagata to the mat with a hard knee.  Shibata throws Nagata in the corner and hits a few elbows, Shibata gets a running start and dropkicks Nagata in the head.  Vertical suplex by Shibata, cover, but it gets a two count.  Crossface by Shibata but Nagata gets into the ropes, back up and Nagata hits an exploder.  Nagata tags in Nakanishi, Nakanishi picks up Shibata and hits a few elbows.  Irish whip by Nakanishi, Shibata tries to reverse it but Nakanishi slams on the breaks and hits a lariat.  Nakanishi knocks Goto off the apron, he then waits for Shibata to get up but Shibata kicks him in the chest.  Shibata tags in Goto and Goto kicks Nakanishi back into the corner, Irish whip by Goto and he hits a heel kick in the corner.  Goto goes for a backdrop suplex but Nakanishi blocks it and hits a bulldog.  Nakanishi goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Nakanishi picks up Goto and puts him in the Argentine Backbreaker, Shibata comes in but Nagata puts him in an armlock.  German suplex hold by Nakanishi, but Goto kicks out at two.  Nagata throws Shibata out of the ring and picks up Goto, and they bit an enzigieri/lariat combination on him.  Irish whip to the corner but Shibata hits a big boot onto Nagata, Goto goes off the ropes and hits a lariat on Nakanishi but Nakanishi doesn’t go down.  Nakanishi goes off the ropes but Goto catches him with another lariat followed by a headbutt.  Shouten Kai by Goto and he puts Nakanishi in the Scorpion Deathlock.  Nakanishi can’t get to the ropes and is forced to tap out.  Your winners:  Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata

Match Thoughts: Botched moves can be a bitch, especially if they are near the end of the match, as that is the lasting impression you have. I don't know if the match was supposed to end with the Shouten Kai, but even Goto knew he messed the move up too bad to cover Nakanishi without everyone rolling their eyes, so it was smart to go to the submission hold to try to cover it. The bad botch aside the match was acceptable, actually Nakanishi seemed to be going out of his way to not be boring which I appreciate. I wish that Goto had done something bigger on the show but he did get the pinfall so he should hopefully keep going upward. The action was solid, nothing offensive but nothing really special either, but botching what was probably the finish is never a good thing. Score: 5.5 

(c) Kota Ibushi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. They circle each other to start, Ibushi goes for a single leg but Taguchi blocks it. They jockey for position but neither man can get the advantage. Tie-up, side headlock by Taguchi, Ibushi Irish whips out of it, side headlock takedown by Taguchi but Ibushi gets out of it. Ibushi goes for a dropkick but Taguchi gets out of the way. Taguchi stomps Ibushi into the corner, Irish whip by Taguchi to the corner but Ibushi flips over him and kicks Taguchi in the chest. Taguchi kicks him back and goes off the ropes but Ibushi catches him with a dropkick. Taguchi falls out of the ring, Ibushi charges the corner to flip out of the ring but Taguchi gets back in the apron as Ibushi gets on the apron. Rebound dropkick by Taguchi off the side ropes, and Ibushi falls out of the ring. Taguchi goes off the ropes and sails out onto Ibushi with a tope con giro. They get back in the ring, snapmare by Taguchi and he applies a side headlock. Ibushi gets back to his feet, he elbows out of the hold and he goes off the ropes, but Taguchi kicks Ibushi in the stomach and hits a front suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi stomps on Ibushi and he hits a knee drop. Cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi picks up Ibushi, snapmare, and Taguchi knees Ibushi in the arm repeatedly. Cover by Taguchi but it gets a two count. Taguchi applies a stretch hold to Ibushi and he applies a bodyscissors. Ibushi gets to the ropes to force a break, Taguchi stomps on Ibushi and clubs him in the back. Taguchi stomps Ibushi into the corner, Taguchi puts Ibushi in a Tree of Woe and Taguchi hits a dropkick. Cover by Taguchi, but it gets a two count. Taguchi picks up Ibushi and goes for a suplex but Ibushi lands on his feet. Taguchi goes off the ropes but Ibushi hits a hurricanrana.

Taguchi goes to the outside and Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle, hitting a moonsault down to the floor. Ibushi picks up Taguchi and slides him back into the ring, Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Irish whip by Ibushi to the corner, but Taguchi kicks him back. Powerslam by Ibushi and he hits a moonsault off the second turnbuckle. Cover, and it gets a two count. Ibushi stomps on Taguchi, he picks him up and goes for a sunset flip but Taguchi rolls through it and hits a dropkick. Taguchi stomps Ibushi in the corner, Irish whip, and Taguchi dropkicks Ibushi in the back. Taguchi goes for a Tiger Suplex but Ibushi lands on his feet and kicks Taguchi in the face. Ibushi picks up Taguchi and elbows him, but Taguchi hits him back. They trade slaps, Ibushi goes for a standing moonsault but Taguchi gets his knees up and covers Ibushi for a two count. Enzigieri by Taguchi but Ibushi delivers the Pele Kick. Taguchi is up first and he punches Ibushi, and they trade elbows. Kick combination by Ibushi but Taguchi ducks one and goes for the Dodon, but Ibushi rolls her up for a two count. Ibushi grabs Taguchi from behind and hits a snap German suplex followed by a corkscrew standing moonsault for a two count. Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle but Taguchi rolls out of the way of the 450 Splash. Ibushi rolls through it, Taguchi hits a lariat, and a second lariat sends Ibushi to the mat. Taguchi picks up Ibushi and goes for the Dodon, Ibushi blocks it but Taguchi drops him to the mat and holds on for a two count cover. Taguchi picks up Ibushi and hits a Milano-saku Dodon's Throne, cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi picks up Ibushi and goes for a backbreaker hold, but Ibushi gets out of it. Taguchi goes for the Shika Koroshi but Ibushi wiggles out of it. Lariat by Ibushi, he picks up Taguchi and hits a sit-down powerbomb. Cover, but it gets a two count. Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the Phoenix Splash, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Kota Ibushi

Match Thoughts: Fun match. One of the things I liked about it is that unlike Brisco, these two were actually reversing each other's moves to avoid finishers and in general made it look like the title really meant something to them. Ibushi must have gotten out of the Dodon half a dozen times, every time Taguchi went for it you just kinda lean in, wondering if it would actually work this time, and that added suspense is always a good thing. Ibushi's offense can have a bit... too much flare at times but he hit a perfect Phoenix Splash so I will let it slide. The match felt like an even encounter, Ibushi was in control but there were a few times that Taguchi seemed so close to getting the title. Overall it was entertaining and definitely a step up from the last few matches. Score: 7.0

(c) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma
This match is for the NEVER Openweight Championship. They charge each other to start the match and run into each other before exchanging chops. Ishii goes off the ropes but Honma hits a shoulderblock. Ishii avoids the falling headbutt but Honma avoids Honma's lariat attempt. Elbow by Honma but Ishii elbows him back. They trade shots, Honma throws Ishii into the corner and hits an elbow but Ishii knocks Honma down with a shoulderblock. Chops by Honma but Ishii chops him back hard. Ishii picks up Honma and chops him in the chest again but Honma slaps him in the chest. Ishii knocks Honma back down to the mat, he picks him up and chops him to the mat again. Ishii picks up Honma and hits a vertical suplex, cover, but it gets a two count. Ishii picks up Honma and Honma chops Ishii in the chest, headbutts by Ishii but Honma plants him with a DDT. Honma picks up Ishii, he throws Ishii into the corner and Honma hits a jumping elbow followed by a face crusher. Falling headbutt by Honma, cover, but it gets a two count. Honma applies a single leg crab hold. Ishii gets to the ropes to force a break, Honma picks up Ishii but Ishii snaps off a backdrop suplex. Ishii picks up Honma, Irish whip to the corner and Ishii hits a lariat. Ishii puts Honma up on the top turnbuckle and he hits a delayed superplex. Cover, but Honma kicks out at two. Ishii goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, but Honma doesn't go down. He goes off the ropes again but Honma catches him with an elbow, they trade running strikes but Honma delivers a release German suplex. Ishii rolls out of the ring hurt, Honma quickly goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a falling headbutt down to the floor at ringside.

Honma returns to the ring but goes back out to get Ishii, sliding him into the ring. Shalimar Tea by Honma, he hits a scoop slam and goes back up to the top turnbuckle again and hits another headbutt. Cover, but Ishii barely gets his shoulder up. Honma picks up Ishii and goes for a slam but Ishii wiggles away, Ishii goes for a jumping kick but Honma blocks it. Honma goes off the ropes but Ishii hits a lariat. Ishii and Honma slowly get up and both try to lariat each other at the same time, but neither man goes down. They do it again with no result and a third time, but the forth time Ishii lariats Honma down to the mat. Ishii grabs Honma and hits a Last Ride powerbomb, cover, but it gets a two count. Ishii picks up Honma and goes for a brainbuster but Honma knees out of it. Brainbuster by Honma, he picks up Ishii and drops him with the Fire Thunder Driver. Honma tries to pick up Ishii but he can't, so he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Ishii rolls out of the way of the headbutt. Honma goes for a lariat but Ishii knocks his arm away, school boy by Honma but it gets a two count. Ishii ducks a Honma lariat attempt and hits a release German suplex. Back up they trade elbows, then headbutts, enzigieri by Ishii and he hits a lariat to the side of Honma's head while he is seated on the mat. Cover, but it gets two. Ishii picks up Honma and drops him with a brainbuster, cover, and Ishii picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Tomohiro Ishii

Match Thoughts: Awesome match, loved every minute of it. Ishii has been on a real hot streak for about a year now, and Honma is always up for doing crazy stuff in big matches. Honma isn't really at the same level as Ishii, and he showed it in this match as he was going for the most nutty versions of his moves to try to put the better wrestler down. Ishii was brutal as always (in a good way), nailing Honma with lariats and headbutts, and he put Honma away in very convincing fashion. I wish Honma had a few more moves in his arsenal so he didn't have to go for the headbutt so many times, but that is a small quibble, this match was man-sized. Score: 8.0

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga
This is an Elimination Match, wrestlers can be eliminated by pinfall, submission, or by being thrown over the top rope. Tanahashi is attacked by Anderson to start the match, he is thrown into the corner but Tanahashi fights his way out of it. Jawbreaker by Tanahashi to Gallows, he goes off the ropes but Tonga hits him from the apron. Liger comes in to help but he is quickly thrown out of the ring. Anderson elbows Tanahashi, Irish whip, reversed, but Anderson avoids Tanahashi's dropkick. Anderson goes off the ropes but Tanahashi avoids the senton and dropkicks Anderson in the head. He then dives into his opponent's corner but he gets caught, allowing Anderson to kick Tanahashi in the ribs. Anderson picks up Tanahashi and delivers an uppercut. Mounted punches by Anderson while everyone else brawls at ringside, and Anderson rakes Tanahashi in the face. Cover, and it gets a two count. Anderson tags in Tonga, Tonga throws Tanahashi into the corner and stomps him down to a seated position. Tonga picks up Tanahashi and slides around the ring before tagging in Fale. Fale clubs Tanahashi, he picks him up and punches Tanahashi in the stomach. Fale tags in Gallows and kicks him in the corner, he picks up Tanahashi and hits a fallaway slam. Cover by Gallows, but it gets a two count. Another bawl with Bullet Club getting the better of it, and everyone stomps on Tanahashi. Gallows drops an elbow onto Tanahashi and two more, cover, but instead he rakes his arm into Tanahashi's face. Gallows throws Tanahashi into the corner and tags in Anderson, snapmare by Anderson and he hits a knee drop. Two more knee drops by Anderson, cover, but it gets a two count. Reverse chinlock by Anderson, Tanahashi elbows out of it and gets away from Anderson, hitting a dragon screw leg whip. Anderson tags in Gallows, but Tanahashi makes the tag to Makabe.

Makabe and Gallows lariat each other unsuccessfully, kick by Gallows but Makabe levels him with a lariat. Makabe knocks the other Bullet Club members off the apron and lariats Gallows in the corner. Another lariat by Makabe and he hits mounted punches in the corner. Gallows clubs Makabe and goes off the ropes but Makabe catches him with another lariat. Gallows tags in Fale as Naito is tagged in, dropkick by Naito, and he hits an armdrag followed by a dropkick. Senton by Naito to Fale, Fale gets up in the corner and he boots back Naito. Enzigieri by Naito, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Tonga grabs him from the apron and Gallows throws Naito to the mat. Naito gets up in the corner and Fale hits a body avalanche. Lariat by Fale to Naito, cover, but it gets a two count. Fale puts Naito up on his shoulders and hits a Samoan Drop. Body press by Fale, cover, but it is broken up. This causes another melee, Fale grabs Naito by the throat but Naito rolls him up for the three count. Bad Luck Fale is eliminated. Tonga comes in the ring and throws Naito over the top rope to the floor. Tetsuya Naito is eliminated. ll comes in as the legal man, Liger puts Tonga on the top turnbuckle and joins him, but Anderson pulls Liger back down to the mat. Splash by Tonga to Liger in the corner and Anderson follows with one of his own. Tonga puts Liger on his shoulders and hits a flapjack, cover, but it gets a two count. Tonga waits for Liger to get up, he goes off the ropes but Liger catches him with the Lou Thesz Press, picking up the three count. Tama Tonga is eliminated. Anderson comes in the ring next and hits Liger with the Gun Stun. Cover, and Anderson picks up the three count. Jushin Thunder Liger is eliminated. Tanahashi and Makabe both come in the ring and brawl with Fale and Anderson, with Makabe becoming isolated in the ring.

Double Irish whip to Makabe but Makabe hits Fale and Anderson with a double lariat. Makabe hits a lariat on Anderson in the corner but Anderson avoids the second one and hits a big boot. Elbow by Gallows and he hits a lariat onto Makabe. Senton by Anderson and Gallows hits a body press, cover by Anderson but Makabe gets a shoulder up. Fale picks up Makabe and with Anderson they hit a backdrop suplex/neckbreaker combination, cover, but Tanahashi breaks it up. Anderson picks up Makabe and puts him on his shoulders, and he hits the Swivel Gun Stun. Cover, but again Makabe kicks out. Anderson goes for the Stun Gun but Makabe pushes him off and lariats Anderson over the top rope to the floor. Karl Anderson is eliminated. Gallows comes in and goes off the ropes, but Makabe knocks him down with a lariat. Makabe tags in Tanahashi, Tanahashi elbows Gallows and hits an uppercut followed by a dropkick to the knee. Tanahashi goes off the ropes, Gallows tries to throw Tanahashi out of the ring but Tanahashi skins the cat. Gallows grabs Tanahashi by the throat but Makabe comes in the ring and hits a lariat onto Gallows. Sling Blade by Tanahashi to Gallows, Makabe goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the King Kong Kneedrop. Tanahashi then goes up top and delivers the High Fly Flow, cover, and he picks up the three count. Doc Gallows is eliminated. Your winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito and Jushin Thunder Liger

Match Thoughts: The problem with matches like this is that if you don't want the match to be 60 minutes long, at some point wrestlers have to get pinned by something that wouldn't normally beat them. Liger and Tama both went down really easy for example, simply because they had to get through those eliminations to get to the final stretch of the match. Once the eliminations started they went rapid-fire, the Liger one was so quick that they missed Anderson's move since they were still showing the last eliminated wrestler leaving. With the match structure and match time there was no way this match was going to deliver, but at least they made the last elimination be convincing and each wrestler got to do a little something to help justify why they were in the match. Makabe still hits way too many lariats though, I realize he will never stop but he wasn't in the match that long to use the same move so repetitively. The match needed about six less wrestlers or 30 more minutes to be good, it just didn't really work the way it was presented even if the wrestlers were doing the best they could. Score: 5.0

Daniel Gracie and Rolles Gracie vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazushi Sakuraba
Nakamura and Daniel start things off. Nakamura tries to kick Daniel in the leg but Daniel avoids it, Nakamura pushes Daniel into the ropes and he gives a clean break. Nakamura kicks Daniel and gets him down to the mat as he tries to get into the side mount, but Daniel blocks it. Daniel goes for Nakamura's ankle but Nakamura blocked that as well and they jockey for the advantage on the mat. Daniel goes for Nakamura's arm but Nakamura gets into the ropes to force a break. Double leg takedown by Nakamura and he kicks at Daniel while he is on the mat. Nakamura tells Daniel to get up but Daniel tells Nakamura to join him on the mat. Daniel eventually gets up as Nakamura tags in Sakuraba, so Daniel tags in Rolles. Rolles and Sakuraba circle each other, Sakuraba goes for a takedown but Rolles avoids it. Rolles pushes Sakuraba into the ropes but he gives a clean break. Rolles and Sakuraba tie-up, Rolles drives Sakuraba back into his corner and hits a few knees. Rolles tags in Daniel, Daniel grabs Sakuraba and hits a judo throw. Daniel goes for the arm as he chokes Sakuraba, Daniel gets on top of Sakuraba but Sakuraba is in the ropes. Daniel picks up Sakuraba and goes for a choke but Sakuraba throws Daniel to the mat and tags in Nakamura. Nakamura knees Daniel in the head repeatedly and gets him into the corner as he knees him some more. Front facelock by Nakamura but Daniel is in the ropes to force a break. Nakamura goes for Daniel's leg but Daniel flips Nakamura to the mat and applies a Kimura. Nakamura mostly blocks it and reverses it into a cross armbreaker attempt, but Daniel drags Nakamura to his corner and tags in Rolles. Rolles stomps Nakamura and punches him while they are near the ropes. Rolles picks up Nakamura but Nakamura hits a backdrop suplex. Nakamura tags in Sakuraba, takedown by Sakuraba and he kicks Rolles in the leg several times. Running stomp by Sakuraba, he grabs Rolles and goes for the arm but Rolles powerbombs out of it. A second time Rolles drives Sakuraba to the mat and he applies a sleeper hold in the middle of the ring. Daniel grabs Nakamura so he can't break it up, and Sakuraba has to submit. Your winners: Daniel Gracie and Rolles Gracie

Match Thoughts: Whatever this is, I wish they would stop. I have no interest in watching fake MMA, especially when it isn't done very well (Nakamura still doesn't look very comfortable with this format). Every major New Japan card this year has had a short meaningless tag match with the Gracies, and whatever the point is I hope they get there soon as there is nothing entertaining here. Watching old MMA guys (like Funaki) can be fun, but when they try to do an MMA style match it is awkward, boring, and ultimately not enjoyable. I bet Inoki is enjoying it, but I am not. Score: 2.5

(c) Kazuchika Okada vs. AJ Styles
They circle each other to start, tie-up, waistlock by Okada but Styles reverses it into a wristlock. Okada reverses the hold but Styles reverse it back. Takedown by Okada but Styles gets into the ropes to force a break. Styles rolls out of the ring to re-group but returns after a moment, Okada pushes Styles into the ropes and he gives a clean break before posing. Okada kicks Styles and applies a side headlock, Styles tries to Irish whip out of it but Okada keeps the hold locked on. Again Styles tries to Irish whip out of it but Okada won't let go and he takes Styles to the mat. Styles struggles back to his feet and finally does Irish whip out of it but Okada hits a shoulderblock. Chop by Styles and he goes off the ropes, but Okada hits a back bodydrop. Okada kicks Styles down in the corner and elbows Styles in the back of the head. Styles hits a throat thrust, Irish whip, reversed, but Styles moves when Okada charges in. Okada puts Styles on the top turnbuckle but Styles kicks him off and suplexes Okada into the turnbuckles. Styles picks up Okada and hits a backbreaker. Cover, but it gets a two count. Styles applies a reverse chinlock, Okada elbows out of it and goes off the ropes but Styles delivers a dropkick. Okada rolls out of the ring, and is immediately stomped down by the Bullet Club. They slide Okada back into the ring, cover by Styles but the referee doesn't count since he is suspicious on how Okada got hurt in the first place. Styles picks up Okada and hits a scoop slam, he goes off the ropes and hits the jumping knee drop. Styles picks up Okada and hits a vertical suplex. Splash by Styles in the corner, he picks up Okada but Okada elbows him off. Styles knees Okada and throws him out of the ring, allowing the Bullet Club to stomp down Okada again. While the Bullet Club discusses things at ringside, Okada gets back in the ring and sails out onto all of them with a tope con giro. Okada throws Styles back into the ring, and Okada stomps Styles in the corner. Neckbreaker by Okada, cover, but it gets a two count. Standing senton by Okada, cover, but it gets another two. Okada picks up Styles but Styles rakes Okada in the eyes. Chop by Styles in the corner, Irish whip, Styles catches Okada kick attempt and kicks Okada in the leg. Stomps to the leg by Styles, he pulls out Okada and applies a leg submission. Styles releases the hold to pull Okada back to the middle of the ring and hits a knee drop onto Okada's leg.

Elbow to the knee by Styles and he kicks Okada in the head. Cover by Styles, but Okada kicks out at two. Muta Lock by Styles but after a moment he releases the hold, he picks up Okada and hits a kneebreaker. Styles grabs Okada by the ankle and applies a facelock, Okada elbows out of it and hits an uppercut. Irish whip by Okada and he hits another uppercut. Okada goes off the ropes and kicks Styles in the face, Irish whip by Okada and he hits a flapjack. Okada charges Styles in the corner and hits a jumping elbow followed by a snap DDT. Cover, but it gets a two count. Okada picks up Styles, Irish whip to the corner but Styles kicks Okada back. Styles goes out to the apron and hits a swandive elbow smash. Styles picks up Okada and goes for a suplex before turning it into a neckbreaker, cover, but Okada kicks out at two. Styles goes up to the top turnbuckle but Okada is up and pushes Styles to a seated position before dropkicking him from the top turnbuckle down to the floor. Okada goes out after him and he throws Styles into the guard rail before booting him over it. Okada pulls Styles back over the rail and hits a DDT on the floor. Okada picks up Styles and slides him back into the ring, Okada goes in after him and hits a scoop slam. Okada goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a diving elbow drop. Okada picks up Styles and goes for the Rain Maker, but Styles blocks it and applies a leg submission hold. Okada gets to the ropes to force a break, Styles waits for Okada to get up and goes off the ropes but Okada knocks him down with a dropkick. Both wrestlers slowly get up and trade elbows, Okada ducks Styles's lariat attempt and goes for the Rain Maker but Styles ducks it and hits the Pele Kick. Slam by Styles, cover, but it gets a two count. Styles picks up Okada but Okada grabs him and hits an over the shoulder drop onto his own knee. Okada picks up Styles but Styles gets away, elbow by Styles and he hits the Stylin' DDT. Cover, but it gets a two count. Styles goes up to the top turnbuckle but Okada rolls out of the way of the Spiral Tap. Dropkick to the back by Okada, he picks up Styles and hits a tombstone piledriver. Bullet Club comes back down and distracts the referee as the Young Bucks try to get in the ring. This allows a wrestler in a hoodie to come in the ring and attack Okada. The wrestler takes off the hood to show that it is Yujiro, and Yujiro hits the Tokyo Pimps. He slides out of the ring as the referee turns back around and hits the Bloody Sunday. Styles Clash by Styles, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and new champion: AJ Styles

Match Thoughts: First of all, I have no issues with Styles winning. New Japan has been somewhat stale the last six months as they have great wrestlers that put on great matches, but it has been the same pairings for awhile so at least this will mix things up a bit. Styles is a respected veteran so him winning didn't really seem out of place. I do wish though that it was a more 'clean' win, New Japan is clearly going all-in with the Bullet Club but Okada had such a good reign I'd rather he went out with a bang, not due to Yujiro of all people interfering. The match was a bit sloppy at points and most of the action was a bit more basic until the final stretch, which isn't too surprising since it was a new pairing but I know that both are capable of more. The action was generally very solid, I just am dreading a series of Styles defenses where he only wins due to outside interference. We'll see where they go with it, but they are certainly shaking things up. Score: 6.5

Final Thoughts:

Best Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma. For two guys that not too long ago were mid-card afterthoughts, they sure can put on an entertaining match. Ishii has really been coming into his own and just brutalizes people, while Honma is still the crazy wrestler that he was more than 10 years ago in Big Japan Pro Wrestling. There was little downtime in this match as they just took turns knocking each other around. Not a perfect match but very entertaining.

MVP: Tomohiro Ishii. No one really stuck out at this event to be honest, at least not in a good way, so Ishii gets the nod since he was the best wrestler in the best match even if it wasn't one of the main matches on the event.

Overall: Ten matches is a lot of matches to put on one card, and one of the things that suffers due to that is the matches get shorter, and the wrestlers get less time to really put on a great match. So you get a lot of good matches, but that is about it. All the New Japan title matches delivered to an extent, but the only match that really stood out was Ishii/Honma. The main event wasn't bad, but it wasn't as polished as you'd expect and the ending will take a lot out of it for some fans. With just the sheer level of talent it is difficult for New Japan to really have a bad show, but this was only average and isn't one a casual fan needs to go out of their way to see.

Grade: C+

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review completed on 5/4/14