So I was a total NJPW noob until last year, when someone posted the Ishii/Shibata match from last year’s tournament – just 12 minutes of sheer brutality that got my attention. Well after watching this year’s tournament, consider me hooked. I have rediscovered my love for this industry that has brought us together on the blog, so I’d like to sell you on the top 10 reasons why you should go and watch this tournament online immediately: 1) Strong Style: You like seeing people hit in the face? Do you miss the piledriver? Look no further than the style ingrained in almost every wrestler over there – the offense tends to focus on more striking and low-risk, high-impact moves like clotheslines/suplexes than we are used to; while it’s not as flashy as some of the offense in America, it looks far more effective as the match wears on. 2) Clean Finishes: With the exception of matches involving the Bulletclub (hold that thought), every match in the tournament is one on one, with a clean finish. Heels beating faces clean, faces beating heels clean, hell even heels beating heels clean. There are VERY few ref bumps or foreign objects, it’s just really a battle of who is the better man, something that ECW captured very well in its early years. 3) Wrestlers being reinvigorated for this event: With the importance of this tournament to everyone involved, every night is an instance where the A game is on display. Two guys in their mid to late 40’s (Tenzan and Yuji Nagata) consistently put on 4 star classics every night, AJ Styles rediscovering his passion for this industry as is KILLING it as a heel, Shelton Benjamin completely living up to his potential, etc. This isn’t even including the star-making performances of their top guys (Okada, Nakamura, etc.), who are raising their games to new levels. 4) Tomoaki Honma: By far, the most over jobber in wrestling history. If you ever wanna see what comedy can be in wrestling, just watch his mannerisms. After being a last minute sub for Kota Ibushi due to injury, he went 0 for the tournament but was probably the most loved guy by all of these crowds every night; infact when he battled Tomohiro Ishii (one of the few guys i knew and liked before the tournament), I found myself changing allegiances during the match because the guy just has perfected the art of the underdog. His finishing move, a top rope headbutt where he literally just falls (there is no jump) is not only hilarious to watch him miss, but the crowd goes APESHIT when he calls for it. Check out his match vs. Bad Luck Fale (LINK) to truly see how to book an underdog vs. a monster. 5) Bulletclub: The modern day NWO. In the pureosu style of Japanese wrestling, interference and chicanery is pretty frowned down upon and rare, but these guys are the exception. There is definitely a star presence about the group with at least 5 of them in the tournament, and it turns out its the perfect heel vehicle for AJ Styles (who took over for Fergal “Prince” Devitt in a very seamless way) 6) Parity: For the last few years, we have been trained to believe that the answer to every question is either A. John Cena, or B. Because HHH. Well for this, there were 7-8 legitimate possible winners for this tournament, and with everyone exchanging clean wins it really built drama throughout. Plus, with the nature of long matches and clean finishes, the losers of the matches looked very strong in defeat; one of the biggest critiques we’ve had of WWE the last few years is when two guys exchange wins/losses and its done in a meaningless fashion that makes both look bad. 7) “Match of the Year”: This term gets thrown around way too much, but there were at least TEN MOTY candidates in this tournament; the final of Nakamura/Okada will most likely win as it had the most at stake (and I’m not understating how tremendous this match was), but every night had at least one match was a ridiculous 4.5 star or higher classic. Too many to list in this space, and half of the fun is not knowing you’re about to witness a classic before you do. 8) Sick, disgusting, awesome finishing moves: If realistic striking is your thing, Okada’s clothesline and Nakamura’s Bomaye (which is a running knee to the head) work for you. You want a grappling hold? Check out the ishii driller (you may remember it as the steiner screwdriver) or the Shouten Kai by Hirooki Goto (Its a vertical suplex into a rock bottom at pretty high speed). 9) Redefining the clothesline: This is a weird thing to add to this list, but it bears importance;; the clothesline (or really as they call it, the lariato) is a huge part of each match – it’s more than a transition move, it’s a finisher for one of their top guys (Okada uses it as “The Rainmaker”), and is primarily used as a game-changer type move. Also, from a comedic standpoint there is nothing better than when the announcers yell LARIAAAAAAAAAATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! 10) The announcers: So i have no idea what the announcers are saying, with the exception of them not translating certain moves (seriously, there is no japanese equivalent of ‘Brain Buster”?). However, much like Doc Emmerich in hockey, they sell the action from bell to bell in a way that is impossible NOT to get hooked on as a match builds. I can only speak for myself, but two matches i love (the 92 royal rumble and Flair/Steamboat Chi-Town Rumble) are not only endearing because of the quality, but because of the play-by-play of Heenan/Monsoon and Ross; it’s a total package when you watch these matches.