Destruction starts here in Fukushima with three championships on the line. Who will leave Destruction with the gold?
Nagata & Kawato def. Nakanishi & Umino @ 5:48
Nakanishi and Nagata open up the show with a strike exchange that Nakanishi wins. The two tag their respective young lions where Kawato takes advantage over Umino with his longer experience. Nagata kicks Nakanishi off the apron multiple times early on, getting under his skin. When he’s eventually tagged back in, Nakanishi is so focused on Nagata that he forgets about Kawato, who springs off the top with a dropkick. Umino shows spirit but is forced to tap to the Nagata Lock II.
Goto & Yoshi-Hashi def. Kitamura & Oka @ 7:36
Kitamura wins the shoulder tackle battle with YH early on, also hitting a beautiful gutwrench suplex. Goto and YH cut down the monster, Kitamura, but their victory is short-lived before the giant hoists Goto up for a brainbuster. Oka and Kitamura keep Goto grounded but the veteran fires up and locks a young lion Boston Crab onto Oka who powers through only to eat a Shoot Kick from Goto, ending the match.
Yujiro & Owens def. Beretta & Jado @ 7:37
Before the match begins, Yujiro and Beretta have a shoving contest. Neither man starts the match, instead we have some comedy between Owens and Jado. Both men get the crowd on multiple occasions. Yujiro tags in only to rush Beretta on the apron, paying no mind to Jado, and tagging back out. Once Beretta gets the tag from Jado he fires up and dives onto both members of Bullet Club. Owens cuts Beretta off on the top and BC take control. Yujiro hits the Pimp Juice on Jado for the victory and laugh in Beretta’s face.
Robinson & Finlay def. Fale & Leo Tonga @ 5:03
The entire match revolved around Fale having Leo copy each move he did, showing the big man how he wrestles. It’s the power of Fale and Leo against the speed of Robinson and Finlay. Tonight, speed won when Robinson was able to connect with Pulp Friction on Leo.
Tanahashi, Kushida, Makabe, Taguchi & Ricochet def. Iizuka, Desperado, Taka, Kanemaru & Taichi @ 10:41
Team Suzuki-Gun jump Taguchi-Japan before the bell but are quickly dumped out by the face team. The animosity between Kushida and Desperado heats up when Kushida’s Hoverboard Lock is smoothly transitioned into a Stretch Muffler. When Ricochet manages to get the hot tag he receives the biggest reaction of the night to this point. He is on fire, hitting each of his signature moves with such grace. When Suzuki-Gun tries their shenanigans, all are blocked. Taguchi uses Taka’s own fingers to poke him in the eyes and roll up him to score the win.
The switchblade promo plays again before the start of the second half.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
War Machine (c) def. G.O.D. & K.E.S. @ 11:13
Tama Tonga tags out to Hanson before any sort of action, afraid of the big Lance Archer. The crowd pops big for the shoulder tackle attempts by the two big men. G.O.D. spend the majority of the match on the outside, refusing tags and waiting for a good opportunity to capitalize on. The match was very chaotic, lots of brawling outside and big power moves from everyone inside the ring. Big dudes doing big dudes moves but once War Machine hit Fallout onto Tanga, match over.
Naito & Hiromu def. Ishii & Ospreay @ 12:04
Ospreay and Hiromu start the match with a strike exchange, pop-up rana and a cartwheel out of a rana. Hot start, as you’d expect from these two. Ospreay then hits a springboard dropkick onto both members of LIJ before tagging out to Ishii. Immediately, Ishii throws Naito into the guardrails before returning to the ring. The legal man, Horomu takes Ishii’s distraction as his advantage and attacks the injured knee. That turned into the focus of the match. Time after time Hiromu and Naito would focus on Ishii’s knee as he tried to fire back up. Eventually he’s able to tag Ospreay back in who hits a flurry of moves before Hiromu distracts the referee and Naito low blows Ospreay, hitting the Destino right after, and the win goes to LIJ. Naito continues going after Ishii post-match before he’s able to roll out of the ring to stop any further attacks.
NEVER 6-Man Championship Match
Bushi, Evil & Sanada (c) def. Okada, Yano & Romero @ 14:03
Rocky Romero enters the ring in a Black Tiger/Bushi combo mask. The Chaos team jump the champions before the bell and isolate Evil early. Romero takes too long to keep the pressure on Evil and is knocked off the top. LIJ all team up on Romero but Okada is tagged in and is on fire, hitting a crossbody block and a flapjack on Evil before being distracted by Bushi and Sanada which allows Evil to gain control. Evil sidewalk slams, discus lariats and connects with a fisherman’s buster onto Okada but once he tags out, Okada makes quick work of Sanada.
Yano is next in and Sanada isn’t having any of his shenanigans tonight. He does over a dozen rolling cradle transitions and tags Bushi who enters with a springboard dropkick. Unlike Sanada, Bushi couldn’t avoid Yano’s tricks and is pulled down by his mask and tagging Romero, who enters with a springboard crossbody. Evil comes in for the safe but eats a pop up dropkick and the forever clotheslines are eaten by Bushi. Bushi blocks Romero’s sliced bread #2 and Sanada catches him in Skull End position by Yano low blows Sanada and everyone enters the ring. Okada breaks up Bushi’s pin attempt on Romero after hitting the MX. In the closing stretch, Sanada ties Yano up in the Paradise Lock, Evil and Okada have a heated exchange but Okada is caught and hit by Evil’s Evil and Bushi connects with the MX again to pick up the fall. LIJ bring Gedo into the ring and he is put into the Paradise Lock. The three stand over their prey and tap their titles together before walking to the back.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Minoru Suzuki (c) def. Michael Elgin @ 19:11
During the G1 Climax tournament matches, Elgin defeated Suzuki. When someone beats a champion in the G1 it sets up a title match for them down the line. This is what’s called a Lumberjack Deathmatch in New Japan. What that means to western fans is simply a Lumberjack match. Elgin picked Tanahashi, Kushida, Taguchi & Ricochet to support him and Suzuki picked Desperado, Taka, Taichi and Kanemaru. Before the bell rung, the fans were already tired of Taichi. The heat master that Taichi is, refused to leave the ring for the match to officially begin. All members of Suzuki-Gun were laughing over this, enjoying being under everyone’s skin. When the match starts the traditional way of showcasing the match rules is applied. Each man takes a turn being tossed out of the ring and are thrown back in by the lumberjacks at ringside. They feel each other out, Elgin throwing some power moves and Suzuki going with strikes. Each time Elgin gains advantage, Suzuki rolls out and is protected by his team.
When Elgin joins him outside, the two teams brawl and Suzuki takes Elgin into the crowd to beat him down. They exchange strikes outside and continue doing so when they roll back inside. After gaining on Suzuki with strikes, one member of Suzuki-Gun distract the referee while the others run in to attack Elgin. They scatter when the ref turns around but are soon back at their shenanigans, sliding a chair into the ring for Suzuki. The chair shots only fire Elgin up but when he’s about to repay the favor with the chair, the ref turns and Elgin ditches the chair before having the chance to hit Suzuki back. The crowd support for Big Mike is getting stronger and stronger but he’s losing steam quickly. Suzuki delivers eight rapid strikes to his face and Elgin falls to a knee.
When employing body kicks, Elgin fires back up and both men’s strikes begin heating up. As soon as it looks like Elgin has Suzuki, the ref is pulled between them and is knocked down. Suzuki-Gun run back in on the attack but Taguchi-Japan enter too and clean house for Elgin. With the clear advantage, an attempt for the Elgin Bomb is made but is countered into a sleeper. Thinking he’s out, Suzuki sets him up for the Gotch Piledriver but eats a spinning backfist instead. Quickly, the Elgin Bomb is hit but at the count of two, the referee is pulled out by Suzuki-Gun. K.E.S. enter the ring to help Suzuki but are ran out by War Machine, who are on Elgin’s side. Iizuka makes his way down the ramp, wearing the Iron Claw. The referee is still out, Elgin is hit in the neck with the Iron Claw and Suzuki hits a very short Gotch Piledriver. Suzuki-Gun push the ref in and the three is counted. Minoru Suzuki retains.
With that, the first day of Destruction has indeed delivered on its name. Overall this was a fine show. The undercard didn’t deliver anything special but post-intermission the matches got better and better as they went along. If you can’t stand the Suzuki-Gun shenanigans then avoid the show but I thought the main event was done well. Elgin is one of few credible challengers for the NEVER title and wasn’t hurt at all in the loss and Suzuki-Gun continue getting heat. We saw with NOAH 2015-2016 that you can’t do these types of Suzuki-Gun main events on a regular basis without losing your audience so hopefully they hold off a while on doing these but for what the main event was it was a fun match. The last three matches are all good and worth the time if you can manage.
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