No big introduction needed, Doc Muraco, the new NJPW PPV guy. Much like Puro I’m not here to crack jokes, just facts. With that out of the way…
The Beer & Coffee Rant for NJPW’s Wataru Inoue Retirement Memorial PPV
Live from Kōrakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan – 4/2/14
Tonight we pay tribute to the career of Wataru Inoue, whose neck is apparently so banged up that he can’t even do a retirement match. On paper looking like a one match show. Main Event is the #1 contenders to the IWGP Tag Titles, Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata, taking on Tomoaki Honma and 3-time (and current) WON Wrestler of the Year Hiroshi Tanahashi. This is the first in a string of shows this week intended as a lead-in to the NJPW Invasion Attack PPV on April 6th. It’s also their first time back on PPV since Shinsuke Nakamura & Bad Luck Fale went epic hardway bloodbath in a surprisingly memorable main event.
Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka & Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu
Tanaka has ditched the bowl cut. No Shinpei Nogami on commentary tonight, so Iizuka terrorizes the crowd instead. Tanakamatsu, both under 25, playing young-boys-in-peril here. Yano controls, but Komatsu makes the tag. All 4 spill outside and Yano tears off the turnbuckles while Iizuka chokes fuckers out with the microphone cord. Tanaka escapes with a drop kick and a hot tag to Komatsu, but Yohei falls victim to an Iizuka sleeper hold @ 6:46 ** Short little opener to give Yano & Iizuka some momentum heading into their match with the Gracies on Sunday, a match that nobody wants to see.
”The Funky Weapon” Ryusuke Taguchi & El Desperado vs. KUSHIDA & BUSHI
KUSHIDA is rocking the Marty McFly life preserver; sadly we get no Delorian down the entrance ramp this time. The other half of the Time Splitters, Alex Shelley, is replaced tonight by BUSHI. KUSHIDA begins with Desperado, who can’t roll out of a hammerlock despite numerous attempts. He makes it to the floor. KUSHIDA goes for a dive but puts on the breaks as Desperado moves out of the way. BUSHI & the Funky Weapon tag in. BUSHI gets the tope suicida on Taguchi into the guard rail hard. Back in, for 2. KUSHIDA grabs a surfboard and a cartwheel kick to Taguchi, who gets a hip toss and makes the tag to Desperado. Back to KUSHIDA & Desperado as this match picks up. If they’re looking to build Desperado back up after the Ibushi feud, a program with KUSHIDA is a good start. Desperado hits a tope suicida of his own, but KUSHIDA fires back with a variety of kicks and a springboard Thesz press. Supernova Press lands on the knees and both men tag out. BUSHI with the fast-paced offense, but Taguchi regains momentum with a tornado DDT. Taguchi going for 3 Amigos, but BUSHI reverses to a nice bridging back slide for 2. Taguchi with a wheel barrow on KUSHIDA into BUSHI. He attempts the Dodon, but BUSHI turns it into a roll up for a close 2. This time he hits the Dodon to finish @ 11:31. Another segment used to build up this Sunday for Taguchi’s “Loser Leaves New Japan” match with Prince Devitt, which most expect Devitt to lose and move on to NXT. ***1/4 Surprisingly good, KUSHIDA and Desperado in particular.
The World Class Tag Team vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask
Jado starts by doing his Ric Flair shtick. Chops, Woos, and a delayed Flair Flop. This never fails to entertain. Gedo & Liger in. Gedo pretty over here, schools him in some mat wrestling and bows. Fast paced exchange ends in a stalemate. All four brawling on the floor. World Class working on Liger’s left arm for a bit. Liger evades a double team, and makes the tag to Tiger Mask. They regain control, but miscommunication on a double team leads to a Tiger Mask crucifix for the pin at 9:52. **1/4 Four guys in their mid-forties doing their trademark spots (Liger turns 50 this year). Nothing major as a match, but a fun 10 minutes.
We get a sitdown interview with Wataru Inoue reflecting on his career.
Yuji Nagata, Super Strong Machine & Captain New Japan vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taka Michinoku & Taichi
Suzuki refuses to give the crowd the pleasure of watching him kick a young boy off the apron. Nagata comes out with the GHC Title. Awesome. Waturu Inoue is in their corner tonight, also awesome. Super Strong Machine is looking rather wellness for a 60 year old; surreal seeing him on PPV in 2014. CNJ takes a chair shot straight to the head on the floor, as the IWC screams at their monitors. Inoue prevents Nagata from taking one and gets waffled in the back for his trouble and choked with the chair. Suzuki now working over Inoue’s arm on the outside. Loud Inoue chant. Suzuki ripping the shirt off of him. Oh shit, Inoue hulking up. Taichi chairs him in the throat. CNJ in peril now. TAKA & Taichi do the quick 3-count spot for the crowd, Nagata getting pissed on the apron. Hot tag to Nagata. Kicks to Suzuki. Belly to belly to TAKA. Nagata & Suzuki trade big forearms. Suzuki with the running slap in the corner. Lariatoooo from Machine. Superkicks to Nagata, but CNJ breaks up the pin. Taichi does his patented ripping-the-pants-off bit, but this allows Nagata to hit the NOAH Killing Back Suplex to wrap it up @ 11:37 *** Crowd chants Wataru. This was exactly what it should have been, as I think we’re all happy to see Wataru out there smiling and having a great time. Hopefully they can allow Nagata to defend the World title on these shows as opposed to the multi-man tags.
Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, Yujiro Takahashi & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, Togi Makabe, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi
Ishii & Naito jaw jacking with each other already before the match. Nakamura makes his entrance; so ridiculously over. Big brawl to start. CHAOS in there 5-on-1 with Nakanishi, but he powers through all of them. Kojima in. 232 chops to Yujiro. Icchauzo, Bakayaro! TenCozy double team Yujiro. All ten men going at it, and the action pours to the outside. Okada, Nakamura, and Ishii back in the ring get their patented Triple Boot/Ishii Bomb on Tenzan. Okada the legal man now. Hilo, Guerrero style. Slapping Tenzan around now. Tenzan lariat. Tag to Nakamura and he does the Axl Rose in the corner, following with a knee. Naito comes in, does his shit with Ishii, does his shit with Yujiro. Back to Ishii. Crowd chanting Naito. Give him credit, it wasn’t easy, he earned that. Battle of massive forearms, back and forth. Naito goes for the Flying Burrito, Ishii moves. Naito tries again and eats a lariat. Okada with a flapjack and kips up. Makabe in. 10 punches to Okada in the corner. Okada takes the advantage, goes to the top and hits the best Flying Elbow in the business. Rainmakah Poe-zu~! Okada dropkick. CHAOS doing the Dragon Gate 5-Guys-in-the-Corner spot again (it just doesn’t feel right). We get 10 guys trading finishers, ending with a TenCozy 3-D and Makabe’s trademark double clothesline off an Irish whip. He hits Yoshi-Hashi with the King Kong kneedrop for the pin @ 14:08. ***1/2 Fun match. Naito & Ishii do their mandatory post match staredown, and their rubber match this Sunday has MOTYC written all over it.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto
Tanahashi & Shibata to start. Crowd approves. Tanahashi going for throws but Shibata will have none of it. Shibata grapevines the leg, Tanahashi wrestles out of it. Headlock by Shibata, Tanahashi reverses. Stalemate. Big match feel. Slap to the face by Shibata and a big kick to the back. Goto tags in. Crowd chants for Honma. They trade shouldblocks and Honma misses the headbutt. Goto misses the kick. Goto gets a crab but Honma makes the ropes. Shibata back in slapping the piss out of Honma. This is either what you love or what you hate about these Shibata matches. Violence! He eats a spear and some punches and the crowd is going nuts. Honma bringing the slaps to Shibata now, who wrestles out of it. Shibata with a sleeper into a German. Goto with stiff kicks and attempts a brainbuster but Honma reverses and drops him. Hot tag, Tanahashi. Ducks Goto and goes straight for Shibata with a flurry of forearms. Swanton off the second rope for 2. He eats a spin kick in the corner from Goto. Shibata follows with the Big Dropkick in the Corner. Just drills Tanahashi in the face with that, you’d have to think he really wanted to. Suplex and a 2 count. The action is seemless. Keylock on Tanahashi’s left arm. Honma breaks up an Octopus, but Shibata’s such a dick that he just no-sells Honma and keeps it locked on Tanahashi. Finally breaks. Tanahashi with a tribute to Wataru Inoue, hits the Staggering Blow. Then both he and Honma sink in dueling Triangle Lancers, Inoue’s old finisher. Crowd Going Banana. Forearms back and forth from Tanahashi & Shibata. Shibata tries to finish with the PK but Tanahashi nails him with a Slingblade. Honma hits the headbutt on Goto, but he pops up and crushes Honma’s chest with a stiff kick. Double submission attempts, Shibata with an octopus on Tanahashi, Goto with a real tight sharpshooter on Honma. They appear completely fucked, but Honma makes the ropes. He ducks a laritat, hits one of his own and a big spear. To the top for the headbutt and Kōrakuen is losing its shit. Goto moves at the last possible split second. Tanahashi to the top but he eats a jumping knee from Shibata. They hit the Shibata sleeper into a PK from Goto for 3 but Nooooo… Honma kicks out. Lariato from Goto for another close 2. Fisherman’s throw from Goto into a Shibata G2S~! Goto hits the Shouten Kai on Honma for the win @ 15:59. ****1/4 Goto & Shibata go into Sunday’s title match looking like the strongest team in the company right now.
We finish with Wataru’s retirement speech. The crowd is still completely packed. Not a person has left. They present him with pictures to hang on the wall of his greater accomplishments. Everybody comes out and shakes his hand one by one. Tanahashi loses his shit and starts balling. KUSHIDA looks genuinely appreciative. Nakanishi has a moment with him. Liger is out with the mask but without the wig. Honma looking punch-drunk and out-to-lunch, smiles and handshakes. Nagata out now, and the tears are flowing. Blue Justice Army salute to the crowd. Shinpei Nogami makes a welcomed appearance and shakes his hand. Animal Hamaguchi is here and this just became the best segment of the year. Hamaguchi bringing the CHARISMA~! Wataru gives a great, heartfelt speech as the crowd shows their love and respect for him. Women are crying. The announcers are crying. The wrestlers are all still in the ring and they’re literally throwing Wataru in the air and catching him on some Hip Hip Hooray shit. One of the greatest moments I’ve ever witnessed in pro wrestling. Every bit as good as Flair’s retirement. Go out of your way to see this.
We wrap up with a press conference, and sign off. Quick breezy undercard, strong main event and one of the all-time great, emotional send-offs in wrestling history make this an easy recommendation.
> No foam fingers, but I can easily see this shirt selling like hot cakes.
I'm shocked no one made the Che connection before now.
Yes, for those of you dying to know, WWE has finally released the tournament brackets from the night Pat Patterson won the Intercontinental Title.
The earlier pages include some match recaps. And people say kayfabe is totally dead.
Would have been nice if someone had MENTIONED THAT on the status page they maintain for exactly that purpose. Anyway, the old Disqus is back in place again for the moment.