It’s taken me a few days, but I’ve finally got through New Japan’s Power Struggle show. It wasn’t Power Struggle’s fault to be fair – my Pro Evolution Soccer addiction and having to find one of our cats on Bonfire Night is what held up this review.
With the cat safe and sound and Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 back in it’s case, I can now compose some thoughts on Power Struggle…
Toa Henare, Ryusuke Taguchi, ACH and Chris Sabin vs Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Volador Jr and Soberano Jr
The return of the opening multi-man match didn’t thrill me – it wasn’t on the list of matches I had for this show, so it was greeted with a groan. I guess it wasn’t a bad match, just fairly routine and pointless. It ended fairly abruptly too with Taguchi getting the win for his team out of nowhere. I was waiting for a save that never came…I’ll give this one a 2.5./5. As always with New Japan multi-man openers, this was a solid match with some talented wrestlers involved, but it was completely skippable.
Guerillas of Destiny and Robbie Eagles vs KUSHIDA and GBH
Another match that wasn’t on my list and another groan. Like the opener, this was OK, but it’s another match you don’t need to watch. It’s the first time I’ve seen Robbie Eagles and I thought he looked pretty good, I would rather have seen him vs Kushida here to be honest. The post match saw Ishimori (originally part of this match but replaced by Eagles) beat down Kushida with his crutch to set up a future IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match. I thought the angle was well done, so I’ll go to 2.5/5 here. Not an essential match but at least there was a purpose to it, in setting up the next challenger for Kushida.
Kazuchika Okada & Beretta vs. Jay White & Bad Luck Fale
I thought this one was a strange match – basically, White brawled with Okada while Berretta defeated the much larger Bad Luck Fale fairly handily. This was more like a TV angle than a match, but again, I felt like it had a purpose and achieved it, in building up Okada vs White at Wrestle Kingdom. Again, I’ll go with a 2.5/5 – not an essential match, but it’s furthered a big story line. I’m really looking forward to Okada vs White now on the back of this match.
Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay
No offence meant to David Finlay, but I knew he was taking the pin here as he isn’t on the level as the other wrestlers in this match and that affected my enjoyment of this match for me. I knew Finlay was here to take the loss and he did in a decent if by numbers tag match. This was another solid match that you don’t need to see. I’ll go 3/5 for the Golden Lovers’ quality in-ring work, but there isn’t anything else worth watching again here.
Roppongi 3K vs Shing Takagi and Bushi vs El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Super Junior Tag League Final)
Another groan here – I knew we were getting the Jr. Heavyweight tag finals, but wasn’t expecting the final to be a three way match! I liked this match, but it would have been better as a straight tag match. This one never really going as a result – another 3/5 for a slightly disappointing match. I wish New Japan would book more straight 2 v 2 matches for the Junior Heavyweights, as those matches have been pretty good this year.
Taichi (C) vs. Hirooki Goto (NEVER Openweight Title)
I groaned at the inclusion of the opening matches…I actually put my head in my hands for this match. Originally, this match was to be Will Ospreay vs Taichi for the Never Openweight Title, but Ospreay got injured so New Japan were scrambling for a replacement.
I can see why they picked Goto, but I shook my head all the same. Sometimes, the logical pick isn’t the most exciting pick. Taichi had cheated to beat Goto for the title a little while ago to set up this rematch, but I was hoping Goto’s title loss was to set up Ospreay for a Never Title reign. Plus, Goto has held the Never Openweight Title several times before and there is really nothing left for him to do with it.
Goto won here, which made no sense to me. If you’ve read my New Japan thoughts before, then you will know I’m not the biggest Goto fan. I find him very stale and in need of a change of direction. He’s good in ring, but his methodical ‘Strong Style’ approach is not going to be a good match for Taichi, who is more of a comedy heel…a mash up of Yano and Elias, if you will. I wish we could have had Taichi vs a junior heavyweight here (Kushida would have been great) as I think Taichi’s matches benefit from a faster, smaller opponent. His match against Will Ospreay at Strong Style Evolved UK Night 2 would be my evidence of that.
The effort was there so I’ll go to 2.5/5. I found this match pretty slow though and I’m hoping this is the last Goto vs Taichi match we see for a while.
Tomohiro Ishii (C) vs Minoru Suzuki (RPW British Heavyweight Title)
This was a palette cleanser after the previous match – a hard hitting brutal match for the British Heavyweight Title between two wrestlers I can happily believe fight in between shows, on the road, backstage…everywhere. I did enjoy this match, but I get the feeling that if you’ve seen one of their matches, you’ve seen them all. I feel like I’ve seen Ishii vs Suzuki a lot this year and they could maybe do with a break from each other. Still, a solid 3.5/5 and probably match of the night.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.
I was looking forward to this match, but I was left a little disappointed. While a good match, it lacked the intensity of their G1 clash in the summer. That said, this was a fine match between two wrestlers with good chemistry. I really enjoyed Zack Sabre Jr’s selling and reactions to his neck injury in this one – usually it’s the face that has to deal with injuries so it was quite novel to see a heel having to adapt and deal with this! I’ll go to 3.5/5 for this one, it’s worth a watch but they’ve had better matches.
Chris Jericho (C) vs. EVIL (IWGP Intercontinental Title)
An interesting choice to headline for me; Jericho is ace in New Japan, but is a part-timer while I just don’t see Evil as a main eventer. To me, he’s another Goto – a solid wrestler who lacks the sparkle to be the top guy.
I did like the match, but I didn’t think it was a main event match. It was a good brawl with a few close near-falls, but there was nothing outstanding here and I couldn’t call this match must-see. I think Chris Jericho in New Japan is amazing though – I love the way he just turns up, attacks all and sundry and causes chaos. I’m hoping we see him face Okada at some point in the next year. I think Wrestle Kingdom will see a Jericho vs Naito rematch, with Naito getting revenge so hopefully Jericho can move on to Okada after that. This match was a fun stepping stone to Jericho vs Naito II, but not really on the level of a New Japan main event for me…I’ll go 3.5/5.
Overall – I thought this was a lacklustre show from New Japan. It wasn’t a difficult watch but there wasn’t anything worth going out your way to see on this card, which is a rarity for New Japan these days. The score added up to 2.94/5.00, which would rank this as the lowest I’ve rated a New Japan show all year. Sadly, this is the last New Japan show I’ll watch in 2018 (I never watch the World Tag League as it doesn’t feel important) so it’s a sad way to finish a good year for New Japan.