I had the pleasure of sitting back and watching New Japan‘s big Invasion Attack event from Sumo Hall on New Japan World recently. This was a big event for New Japan and a number of new storylines were introduced. I thought I’d throw up some of the thoughts I had on the tremendous show.
- I love that there is a new IWGP champion in Tetsuya Naito. I thought his gimmick was unique and original and his Los Ingobernables de Japan faction was a great one to lead. He has worked his ass off to be the biggest heel in the company (although he was getting a LOT of cheers from the New Japan fans at Sumo Hall), so it’s great to see the gimmick (along with his tremendous in-ring skills) be rewarded. Plus, with the departures of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura added to injuries putting Haroshi Tanahashi primarily in tag team matches, it’s good that New Japan show their fans that Kazuchika Okada isn’t the only performer worthy of superstar status. This was a statement by New Japan and I think it was a great move by the company.
- The match itself was fantastic. If anybody tries to make the claim that either Okada or Naito aren’t main event level talents, then all they have to do is watch this championship battle to know why they were the main event and the new faces of the company.
- It was very cool to see Seiya Sanada join Los Ingobernables de Japan and make an immediate impact. This was a guy who went to North America and paid his dues. He was made to look like a cheap Great Muta knock-off in TNA and he did the independent scene for months after that. He came off looking like a genuine bad-ass and he’s now immediately thrown into a program with former champion Kazuchika Okada. You just gotta love New Japan’s way of creating new stars. Send them away for experience and bring them back as stars. WWE could really take notes here.
- It was good to see Yoshi Tatsu back in action again. But really, he didn’t do anything during the match. You could tell that everybody was doing their best to protect him, so Tanahashi took the majority of the heat from the heels. He was very tentative, even when delivering what small amount of offense that he had. I never saw his pre-WWE work so I don’t even know what he’s truly capable of or if this was what he normally looked like. Whether or not he’ll ever be back to 100%, it’s hard to say right now. But he’s definitely not wrestling relaxed right now.
- I don’t understand why Juice Robinson is the name being used by former NXT performer CJ Parker. I think the name is silly and doesn’t make any sense. I mean, can you imagine an IWGP champion named “Juice”? To me, it takes away from his talent and potential. And yeah, he’s just a “young lion” in Japan but man…if he thought getting squashed in NXT was bad, getting destroyed in New Japan while being called “Juice” can’t be much better.
- AWESOME is the only word I can come up to describe the new brothers tag team of Tama Tonga and the former Camacho in WWE/NXT, his brother Tanga Roa. I think the new IWGP heavyweight tag team champions, the Guerillas of Destiny, have got tremendous chemistry together and I believe they can ho a long way with the company. I think very highly of Tonga and believe he can do a lot in the industry. He’s still learning (though he’s an 8-year veteran) but I think he can definitely be a singles champion in New Japan if they ever decided to run with it (i.e. Intercontinental champion, IWGP junior heavyweight champion, or even NEVER openweight champion).
- This was my first time watching Will Ospreay in action. I’ve heard a LOT about him, so I was very keen on seeing what he had to offer. Obviously, he had a tremendous dance partner in Kushida…but I gotta say that I was really impressed with the kid. His high-flying moves were great, but you can’t build your career on that alone. What most impressed me was his personality and how he displayed his arrogance without going full-blown heel (in fact, the Sumo Hall crowd booed Kushida and cheered Ospreay at the end of the match). As the newest member of Chaos, he’s got a tremendous future ahead of him.
- I think it was really smart for New Japan to use ROH commentators Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino for the English commentary. These two not only have tremendous chemistry together, but they also know what they’re talking about. They know the performers and know their history in addition to knowing the names of the moves. They cover the “dead air” and really do a great job of making the matches interesting.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Michael Elgin is a goddamn superstar in New Japan and has the very real potential to be a future IWGP champion. He’s the next challenger for Kenny Omega’s Intercontinental championship, and I think he’s well on his way to being “The Man” in Japan…especially after being given the rub by Tanahashi the way he has. The crowds LOVE this guy and the smaller performers on the roster really make him look super-human. It’s a win-win for Elgin because, quite frankly, I still don’t think his style or personality works well with North American audiences (at the moment, anyway).
- I’ve seen a lot of New Japan matches over the past year and I got say, Katsuyori Shibata is a damn BEAST. You wouldn’t think so by just looking at him, but watch his matches with Hirooki Goto or Tomohiro Ishii or even last week’s battle with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and you’ll see that this guy is the real deal. He doesn’t have a gimmick, but his ability seems to speak for itself. I also loved how they set up Shibata’s next match as he completely disrespected legend Yugi Nagata after defeating legend Tenzan. I really enjoy that the majority of New Japan’s feuds and title matches are done this way. It’s straight up and there are no questions asked…you KNOW who will be fighting who next.
- I’m really not that excited about the team of Roppongi Vice winning the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships. No offense to either Rocky Romero or Beretta, but neither of them “do much for me”. They’re adequate in-ring performers and I know that they try to show off charisma and personality, but their in-ring styles are a little boring and their double-team maneuvers look forced to me. I guess this allows Ricochet the opportunity to see what else is out there (he’s apparently NXT-bound) but other than the Young Bucks, I’m not sure what other tag teams in New Japan are truly exciting as champions. Most teams seem to be disbanding (ex: Kushida & Alex Shelley), not competing as regularly (ex: reDRagon), or are a make-shift team that won’t last (ex: Matt Sydal & Ricochet). New Japan needs some new blood in the tag team division, in both the junior division and the heavyweight division now that Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows have left the company.
- I’m glad to find out that Cody Hall was okay after a very scary moment. During the 6-man NEVER Trios Tag Team Championship match, action spilled outside of the ring. Nick Jackson decided to do a plancha off the top of the entranceway and landed on Hall’s head in a very awkward way. He was taken to the hospital and it was found that he suffered a major stinger, but no major broken bone or other serious injury. I don’t know if Hall truly has a future in the business, but I never like to see anybody get hurt.
At the end of the day, this was a tremendous PPV event and one worth watching. Realistically, I don’t think I’ve seen a bad New Japan event yet within the past year or more…especially when they bring in English commentators to help their international audience (you KNOW that it’s going to be a good event when they do that).
With Naito the new IWGP champion, there are a ton of new match-ups available for the company when it comes to main events. The new IWGP tag team championships changing hands to a new team (Guerillas of Destiny) gives New Japan the opportunity to have a ton of new tag matches, as well. In addition, the upcoming matches for the IWGP Intercontinental championship (Kenny Omega vs Michael Elgin), the NEVER Openweight championship (Shibata vs Nagata), and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship (Kushida vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger) all look to be extremely entertaining that make up yet another event worth watching.