The first Destruction show, Destruction in Beppu, comes to us live on NJPW World from Oita Beppu Beacon Plaza. Main evented by a rematch for the RevPro British Heavyweight Championship from Royal Quest as Hiroshi Tanahashi defends against Zack Sabre Jr.
The card is as follows:
Yota Tsuji (2 Points) vs Karl Fredericks (6 Points) – Young Lion Cup
Shota Umino (6 Points) vs Alex Coughlin (2 Points) – Young Lion Cup
Yuji Nagata, Yuya Uemura, Ren Narita, and Ryusuke Taguchi vs Manabu Nakanishi, Clark Connors, Toa Henare, and Michael Richards
SHO, YOH, and Jyushin Thunder Liger vs Minoru Suzuki, DOUKI, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Birds of Prey, GBH, and Kota Ibushi vs KENTA, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori, and El Phantasmo
Rocky Romero, Hirooki Goto, and Kazuchika Okada, vs SANADA, Shingo Takagi, and BUSHI
EVIL and Tetsuya Naito vs Jay White and Chase Owens
Guerillas of Destiny vs Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI – IWGP HQ Tag Team Titles
Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – RevPro British Heavyweight Title
Karl Fredericks Def. Yota Tsuji in 7m23s with a Single Leg Crab (***½)
With this 15 minute time limit match, the two Young Lions start off quite slowly, feeling each other out. Tsuji gets control early on and plays quite heelish in this match I felt. Tsuji does not give Karl a clean break like Karl gave him emphasizing this. Nice technical wrestling by the two, Karl Fredericks shines in everything he does honestly, the guy is just too good. Tsuji this time going for Karl’s shoulder, once again Yota not being a nice boy. Really nice targeting in this match, I love it when it makes sense for people to do the things they do, you don’t get that a lot in wrestling.
Karl gets himself back in the game with an incredible dropkick, this man is up there with Suzuki for best dropkick in the business if I’m honest. Brutal strike exchange that Tsuji wins because Karl’s arm is buggered, you love to see it. Great spine buster by Karl and with that he signals for the end. Single leg crab by Fredericks and as he transitions into a Lion Tamer position Tsuji begins to tap, but Fredericks keeps the hold on for a little bit longer than needed, perhaps as payment for Tsuji going for his arm earlier in the match. Karl gets to 8 points and momentarily leads the group.
Really good match, one of my favourite YLC matches so far, Fredericks is a star though so this isn’t surprising, the right man won, and I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Karl ended up winning the whole thing.
Shota Umino Def. Alex Coughin in 8m14s with a Fisherman’s Suplex (***)
The other man most likely to win the YLC is up next and he is against an Alex Coughlin that hasn’t had the best of times. A bit of a quicker start to this one with a more frantic style as both men Jockey for position. Really nice headlock escape by Coughlin by just dropping Shota directly on his head. Shota shows his strength as he wins a shoulder tackle war with Coughlin, HeavyQ Shota making an appearance you love to see it. Surprising rest hold by Alex Coughlin, this match is slower than I thought it would be, honestly. Brutal chops by Coughlin but Shota comes back with a great elbow and suplex combo.
Now Shota is in control the match gets a thousand times quicker, as he hits a flurry of moves including his patented seated Dropkick and top rope missile dropkick for a near fall. Great dropkick of his own by Coughlin followed up with a disgustingly great show of strength as he picks Shota up for a gut wrench Suplex. Coughlin transitions into the Boston Crab but Shota survives, honestly thought Shota would tap there for a second. Messy Spinebuster by Shota gives him the breathing room he needed. Brutal strike exchange by the two with some scintillating chops by Coughlin, but Shota survives and hits a great standing dropkick. One more missile dropkick, followed by his Fisherman’s suplex, and its all she wrote for this one.
The match kinda dragged at parts but all in all a strong YLC match, Shota moves up to 8 and joins his LA Dojo rival Karl Fredericks as the leaders of the group.
Yuji Nagata, Yuya Uemura, Ren Narita, and Ryusuke Taguchi Def. Manabu Nakanishi, Clark Connors, Toa Henare, and Michael Richards in 11m18s When Ryusuke Taguchi Submitted Michael Richards with an Ankle Lock (**)
The next match shows the return of the dad’s as Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata are back for the second half of the destruction tour. Just like the legends they replaced they will be on opposite corners. Throughout the entirety of this match, Clark Connors and Yuya Uemura seem to have a vendetta against each other, I wonder why. Technical draw between Narita and Connors sees Uemura almost demand a tag. He will not get Connors though as Henare tags in as well. Uemura gets the upper hand of Henare with a BEAUTIFUL arm drag, Uemura might be the most underrated Young Lion in the system right now, wouldn’t be surprised if he makes it big soon.
Henare brings down Yuya soon enough though and that signals to Manabu Nakanishi or should I say USAIN BOLT, Nakanishi bolts it to the opposite corner to take out the other team, it seems like the 6 month break he took as worked miracles. Nakanishi with some great coaching to the LA boys, the guy has really clear English. Nakanishi and his kids take great pleasure in singling out Uemura, who unfortunately is the punching bag for this match. Uemura finally creates some space with a great dropkick to Henare and finally tags in Narita! He goes wild taking everyone out including giving Henare a suplex! Nakanishi with some “Quit the Business” time on Narita, as Kevin Kelly put it, only for Narita to come back and SUPLEX NAKANISHI! NARITA SUPLEXED NAKANISHI!
Tag to Blue Justice and the normal tag partners collide! Both legends honestly look great for this match, Nagata is timeless obviously, but Nakanishi is looking better than he has in years. Lariat from Nakanishi brings the Nagata crew in to help their partner. This doesn’t last long however as Nakanishi tries for a torture rack on Nagata which is reversed into a EXPLODER! This gives them both a reason to tag out to Taguchi and Michael Richards respectively. Hip Attacks galore for Taguchi.. Until Nakanishi clubs Taguchi’s arse. The 4 men now begin to beat down on Taguchi with Michael Richards almost getting the win over the Coach. Brutal Lariat by Richards who really knows how to throw hands. Narita at the moment is the only reason this match hasn’t ended. Taguchi though comes back with a Hip Attack and his patented Ankle Lock to make Richards Tap.
Nothing match to be honest. It was fun to see Nagata and Nakanishi back though!
SHO, YOH, and Jyushin Thunder Liger Def. Minoru Suzuki, DOUKI, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (**½) in 10m36s when SHO pinned DOUKI with 3K
This match makes me happy, I can’t wait until, WK and the best match of the card being a 51 year old vs a 54(?) year old. Jumping the gun by Suzuki Gun as expected, Suzuki going after Liger also as expected. Seeing these two interact is making me excited for WK and we’re still 4 months away. YOH is somehow the legal man and somehow gets in the ring with seconds to spare. Suzuki destroying YOH’s arm while screaming at Liger who is kicking him was great. It feels like everything in this match, at least to this moment, is surrounding Liger and Suzuki.
YOH tries to escape, blitzing Suzuki with at least 10 forearms, which Suzuki ignores, and drops YOH, perhaps unconscious, with one of his own. Kanemaru tags in only to be the one that gets the brunt of YOH’s comeback as he gathers the strength to tag in Jyushin Liger! He takes out both Kanemaru and DOUKI as he stares at Suzuki ushering him to make the tag to Kanemaru and to face off. Suzuki obliges and eventually controls liger with a Fujiwara armbar. Suzuki beats on Liger and calls DOUKI into the ring with his pipe, this gives the ref something to look at as Suzuki tries to unmask Liger! Thankfully though the ref stops Suzuki in time.
Shotei by Liger and this allows both men to tag out to SHO and DOUKI. The former with a great spear only to be attacked by Kanemaru and then thrusted into a 3 on 1 situation. Beautiful double stomp by DOUKI which leads to a 2 cound and the two are alone again. DOUKI goes for his Suplex de la Luna but SHO reverses and R3K get some good teamwork in, DOUKI almost surprises SHO with a roll up for a close 2 count but it wouldn’t be enough as SHO and YOH hit their finish for the win!
Not the best match but as a story builder this was exquisite. Liger/Suzuki is going to be something else.
KENTA, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori, and El Phantasmo Def. Birds of Prey, GBH, and Kota Ibushi in 9m17s when KENTA pinned Tomoaki Honma with a G2S (**¾)
Quite a massive match here, two matches being built as KENTA/Ibushi and BoP/ELP and Ishimori are both major matches happening the next night in Ibushi’s hometown. BC pre match attack.. What a surprise the Camera’s miss what I imagine was a great double team move by the Birds of prey. Lots of showboating early on which makes sense when you see who’s involved. Gino Gambino gets in on the action with a surprisingly good chop onto Robbie Eagles! No crowd reaction for the most devastating move in the business the back rake.. Tut tut these fans don’t know anything. Robbie Eagles just getting the absolute Christ beaten out of him by Bullet Club as they isolate him. Shurinai by Eagles gave him the space to make the tag to the Unchained Gorilla!
Makabe is loose on Bullet Club! He takes out everyone and delivers a massive Lariat to Fale sending him over the ropes! Reverse DDT by Yujiro and both he and Makabe makes the tag to Ibushi and KENTA! Who immediately start kicking and hitting each other in the head. Great spot here as KENTA and Ibushi both deliver a standing head kick to each other taking them both down, this shows how similar they are stylistically. Ibushi tags out to HONMA! Who takes down KENTA who then moves out of the way of a KOKESHI by Honma. At this point now BC are just having a 5 on 1 beatdown with Honma here. Eagles saves Honma from a G2S only to have Ishimori and BC take him out while Eagles’ team mates take out BC. This leaves just KENTA and Honma, the former dodges out of the way of the latter’s Kokeshi and hits a PK and the G2S for the win.
Fine build up match to two very interesting matches the next night.
SANADA, Shingo Takagi, and BUSHI Def. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, and Rocky Romero in 10m40s when SANADA Submitted Rocky Romero with the Skull End
This match once again is not about the match itself but the singles matches sprouting from it, as on the 22nd Shingo Takagi faces Hirooki Goto and SANADA will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Shingo and Goto start and do exactly what you think two of the best big men on the planet would do, beat the ever living hell out of each other and are equal at the end. Early BUSHIrooni by BUSHI surprised me. BUSHI now is alone and the smallest member of LIJ is completely isolated by CHAOS. The Jet Black Death Mask finally manages to get some space away from Okada and manages to tag in SANADA, what a coincidence.
SANADA cleans house as well as delivering a beautiful frankensteiner to Okada followed by the Paradise Lock. Okada and SANADA.. I don’t know what it is about them but I am just not a fan of the majority of their matches, I hope their KOPW match is a lot more like thier G129 match and less like their previous encounters. The two title match contestants are almost having a small singles match of their own honestly. They’re hitting the majority of their big spots bar their finishes of course, and the crowd is into it. I can’t blame NJPW for going with SANADA as one of their next big guys considering how over he is with the home crowd.
Flapjack by Okada and he finally bows out of the match and tags in Rocky Romero, who hits a beauty of a Rana on an illegal BUSHI. Forever clotheslines are blocked by SANADA who gets hit with a rewind kick instead by Rocky for a near fall. The tag team work by LIJ is just magnificent. Skull End is blocked by Goto who then has a war with Shingo which is just god tier wrestling. Great pop up cutter by SANADA takes him out of the match for good. Rocky goes for his sliced bread but is caught by SANADA and placed into Skull End for the win.
EVIL and Tetsuya Naito Def. Jay White and Chase Owens in 11m11s when Tetsuya Naito pinned Chase Owens with Destino (****)
The best match of the night has come upon us, the interactions between Naito and White are the single best thing in NJPW right now. BC pre match attack which is the norm of course. They immediately start to isolate EVIL however this doesn’t go to plan as he powers through both of them. I think I’ll say it now so I don’t forget, but Gino Gambino is such a great heel commentator, the guy is great and he has good chemistry with Kevin Kelly. Naito with a Leg Nelson on Chase while he smiles so nicely at Jay White is the best thing.
Another rare case of the “you hold him and I’ll hit him” as White sets EVIL up and lets Chase dropkick him through the middle rope. EVIL 19 count as Chase and Jay yelled at Kevin Kelly is great. The isolation finally works on EVIL and now BC has him under control. Chase gets a surprising amount of offense in which I like, I like Chase. EVIL finally hits a Fisherman’s Buster on Chase and they both tag out to their partners, who don’t even get in the ring, they just stare and smile at each other Jay lures Naito in this time and attacks him on the outside. Great arm drag and Rana by Naito just after spitting in Jay White’s face.
More mind games from Naito as he offers the fist to White before drop kicking him on the head and hitting the Cabron Combinacion. Naito with the most lackadaisical cover while staring into the eyes of White. White with a lot of counters that finally results in a brutal DDT and BC have a 2 on 1 advantage on Naito. EVIL saves Naito and drags White away, Chase hits a Duel Heist on Naito for a near fall. Naito blocks the package piledrives as EVIL hits Jay White with Darkness Falls. Beautiful combo by LIJ for a near fall, and, on the orders of Naito, EVIL brings Jay White to the Apron and forces him to watch his friend be Destino’d to oblivion.
Really fun tag match, the wrestling wasn’t that special but the charisma of Naito and White made this match.
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerillas of Destiny Def. Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI HASHI in 21m35s when Tama Tonga pinned Yoshi Hashi with a roll up (*)
I never thought i’d be saying this about a Tomohiro Ishii match, but I just hated this, it was not a good match. I’ll try to be as impartial as possible but just wanted to get my feelings out there before the match review starts. Kevin Kelly screaming “hey you and that damn stick” to Jado is the best part of this match. As the match is about to begin, Tama Tonga is staring down at Yoshi-Hashi, and as he’s being so intense it makes it 10 times easier to see the pure anxiety on the face of YH. Its so weird. Tama and Ishii start with some really really great quick wrestling, so smooth by both of them. GOD finally get the upper hand on the challengers with a pair of really nice dropkicks.
They go outside for a bit, and beat down the two, and then bring in Ishii and have him be the one isolated by the Guerillas. It’s a bit weird having Ishii being beat down while YH is the one about to get the hot tag honestly. A lot of very “G.O.D” offense by the Guerillas, nothing special. The isolation portion of the match seems to last for an age in and of itself. Finally Ishii manages to out-wit G.O.D and tag in YH who takes everyone out, I know, this surprised me as well. YH pulls out his annoying “lay on the ropes and hold on while I dropkick you” gimmick. Nice Head Hunter by YH. Tanga Loa is on the receiving end of a great Double backdrop suplex by the challengers but then gets straight back up and drops them. Another thing I wasn’t the biggest fan on in this one, Tanga Loa at some points just randomly no-sold his opponents, and I’m not talking Tomohiro Ishii delayed sell, he just straight up ignored it. Which kinda annoyed me.
Fun forearm exchange by Ishii and Loa which ends in a sickening Headbutt by Ishii and a decapitating Lariat by Tanga Loa. At this point we go back to the 2 on 1 against Ishii. Ishii escapes Ape Sh*t only to be blocked by Tanga Loa when he goes for his Gamengiri. Really awkward miscommunication by Loa and Ishii as Ishii wants the standing Lariat but Loa is waiting for the sliding Lariat. Spear by Tanga Loa and both men want a tag out, and they get it to Yoshi Hashi and Tama Tonga respectively. Tama with some great movement then YH decides to take a back bump off of a Gun Stun attempt. Nice Rana by YH. The Tongans get back in control by taking out Ishii and hit a Diving Headbutt/Splash combo on YH for a near fall.
Ishii stops a Magic Killer attempt so they hit it on him instead. Magic Killer now on YH but he somehow Kicks out! Ishii saves YH from certain defeat as he stops the Super Powerbomb which YH rolls through into a butterfly lock on Tama Tonga which I thought was cool. Tama takes out the ref so he can’t see Jado come in to save Tama from the Butterfly Lock, YH stops Jado though from doing anything as he hits him with the Kendo. Tama’s Gun Stun attempt was stopped by YH and turned into a Powerbomb by Ishii, that ruled. Brutal Lariat by YH and he almost gets the win with a Fisherman’s Buster, the crowd really bit on that one. And now time for the finish, a wild KENTA appears to distract Yoshi Hashi long enough for Tama Tonga to roll him up for the 3.
British Heavyweight Championship
Zack Sabre Jr Def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) in 26m43s with a roll up (****¾)
Ahhh, now time for the best match of the night, a rematch from London, the British Heavyweight Championship is on the lin as ZSJ looks to get his belt back from the Ace of the Universe.
As most technical matches do, this one starts out slow, both ment judging the other and trying to find any early weaknesses. Zack obviously goes for the arm of Tanahashi while Tana’s main aim is the leg of Zack Sabre Jr. The ace seems to have Zacks number lately with him winning the early technical war. I feel like the best part of a Tanahashi match is that the fans are always into it, as Zack has control even with what is with all due respect a rest hold, the crowd is going wild begging for Tana to reverse it. Both men trade straightjacket holds until ZSJ gets uncomfortable and quickly separates himself from The Ace. “I’m taking a breather Dick Head shut up” -ZSJ aka the best. Great springboard Crossbody from the ace and in the early goings of this match Tanahashi seems to be in control in the majority of it.
Chop Block by the Ace and now is where he really targets the knee of Zack. After a good minute in a submission aimed at Zacks knee, he finally reaches for the ropes and leaves the ring to give himself some space, basically giving Tanahashi the opening third of the match. Zack, slow to return to the ring, buying himself some time, Tana opens the ropes for Zack which sends him into a rage picking up a chair and almost swinging it at Tana were it not for Yuya Uemura who takes the chair away from ZSJ, Zack almost seemed thankful to the young lion as he came back to his senses only to sucker punch and stretch out the kid bringing Tana to the outside to save the Young Lion.
Taking ZSJ back into the ring, Tana takes multiple uppercuts from Zack before dropping him with one of his own. Tana goes for his patented jumping elbow only to be caught by Zack in a GORGEOUS cross armbar. Tanahashi makes it to the ropes and is released but not before ZSJ takes full advantage of the 5 count to add more pain. This is definitely the turning point of the match, with Zack gaining full control. Beautiful sequence by the two ends in a Fujiwara armbar attempt by ZSJ. At this point Zack is completely targeting the surgically repaired arm of Tanahashi. The Ace begins his comeback with a flying forearm and a pair of dragon Screw’s. Tanahashi cannot hit his sling blade but can connect with a version of the octopus that Zack barely escapes from. The Ace goes for a High Fly Flow to the outside by ZSJ wants none of that as he leaves the area. Incredible selling job by both men, Tana really knows how to scream, and the snap submissions by both men have been great.
After another pair of rope assisted Dragon Screws, Tana goes for the cloverleaf, but Zack of course reverses into a triangle choke then transitions flawlessly into a cross arm bar. Tanahashi is not finished as he reverses that into a great armbar of his own. This match is reverse central and not in the Jay White way. Brutal submission by ZSJ as he has control of 3 of Tana’s 4 limbs, the only one Zack didn’t have was the one that managed to get to the ropes to force a break. Incredible sequence by the two ends in a SLING BLADE and a REVERSE SLING BLADE by Tanahasi! The Ace goes to the top and HITS THE HIGH FLY FLOW on ZSJ, but he’s not going for the pin! Zack’s bleeding at the mouth and Tana decides to go for a variation of the cloverleaf! However this was a rare mistake by the Ace as ZSJ manages to get to the rope.
A choke by Zack is reversed into 2 Twist and Shouts! However on the third Zack manages to counter, and nails Tana with the Zack Driver! Insane European uppercuts by both men, the strike exchange won by The Ace. Tana goes for the paintbrush slap by Zack catches it into an overhead kick to the arm. A PK is caught by Tana and turned into a straightjacket German suplex for a near fall! So many pinfall attempts by both men, in the end, they both go for a Cobra Twist which Zack manages to slide into a pinfall and win back his RevPro British Heavyweight Championship!
I’m probably overrating this match based on how much I like both men, but I honestly think this might be their best match, it more than made up for the previous title match and made the show overall pretty strong!
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