New Japan Pro Wrestling
Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
NEVER Open Weight Championship
Wrestler of the Year candidate Tomohiro Ishii gets the chance to main event a Korakuen card, defending his NEVER Open Weight championship versus former CHAOS compadre Yujiro.
For those that are already sick of the Bullet Club – the interference, general cheating, and championship dominance– avert your eyes. Anderson, Gallows and Tonga get involved. Yujiro knocked over the referee. When the match was over, the NEVER championship was around Yujiro’s waist, adding yet another championship to the Bullet Club’s impressive collection.
However, the match is also a perfectly fine Korakuen Hall main event. Although Korakuen crowds can sometimes react against the grain, they boo Yujiro unmercifully when he stalls at the start of the match. Ishii does an admirable job working with a lesser wrestler. If you already thought of him as a strong Wrestler of the Year contender, this match likely only strengthened that opinion. If not, there’s a chance this match would improve your opinion given how Ishii smartly switched up his usual formula to work to Yujiro’s strengths (being a big, goofy chicken of a heel). When Nakamura and Okada run off the Bullet Club and help their CHAOS teammate, it gets one of the loudest reactions of the entire show.
In other words, this match was a near perfect representation of the ongoing divisiveness over the Bullet Club and current New Japan booking. For those that don’t like what NJPW is doing, there was plenty to dislike. For those looking at the positives, there were plenty of those as well.
With Yujiro’s victory, the Bullet Club is now the proud owners of every non-Junior specific championship in the promotion. The payoff is likely coming before the end of the year with the Japanese wrestlers restoring order to the promotion’s hierarchy – just have patience.
Japan Singles | Worthwhile | Booking, Title Switch & Quality