New Japan Pro Wrestling
Hiroshima Sun Palace (Hiroshima, Japan)
This match was laid out a a bit oddly. Not necessarily in a bad way, just sort of counter-intuitively. A Shibata versus Okada match was teased to the extent that I would say it was the main takeaway from the match. Goto sold a lot – including for Yoshi-Hashi – which felt a tad abnormal given that he is challenging for the title in two days and I am not sure how much people really buy he has a shot at the title to begin with. I expected the focus to be more on Okada/Goto and for Goto to be put over stronger than simply pinning Yoshi-Hashi after selling the majority of the match.
Having said that, this was a good match. The Shibata-Okada interplay did spark my interest in a future match between the two. I thought the spot where Shibata kicked Okada off of the apron (as payback for Okada breaking up an earlier pin) only for Okada to get pissed off and ask into the match was well executed. Both Shibata and Okada carry themselves like big deals so their interaction here felt like a bigger deal than it might under other circumstances. Shibata assisting Goto in blocking the Rainmaker was also a neat spot.
Shibata and Goto looked good as a tag team. Assuming that Goto is not successful in his IWGP Heavyweight title bid on Tuesday, moving them into the tag scene would help to freshen up that particular division. Nagata/Sakuraba vs. Goto/Shibata also sounds like a far better use of Sakuraba than matches versus Gracies.
Japan Tag | Worthwhile | Build/Quality