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NJPW ‘Destruction in Hiroshima’ (9.16.17) Event Recap

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We’re on the second stop of Destruction. From Hiroshima tonight we see the return of Zack Sabre Jr. as he challenges Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in the main event!

Tenzan, Liger & Tiger def. Goto, Yoshi-Hashi & Jado @ 7:10
Liger, Tiger & Tenzan all making their first appearances since August 13th. Jado starts off wanting a handshake from Liger, who is hesitant. Jado shakes the hand of the referee and kisses his head to show he has no ill intent. Believing him, Liger shakes his hand and counters Jado’s mid-kick. The CHAOS team uses their numbers to cut down the veteran Liger, looking to make quick work of him. With the crowd behind him, Liger fires up and delivers a top rope superplex to Goto and tags in Tenzan. After clearing the opposing apron, Tenzan hits his Mongolian Chops onto Goto, following up with a suplex. Goto uses misdirection to land a lariat and tag Yoshi-Hashi. Making quick work of Yoshi, Tenzan brings Tiger Mask into the match. Tiger and Yoshi have a balances exchange which leads to a Tiger Driver but Yoshi fights back with a lariat and applies the Butterfly Lock for the submission. Liger slaps fan’s hands on the way to the loser’s exit.

Juice & Finlay def. Fale & Leo Tonga @ 4:32
On his way to the ring, Juice slaps hands with fans and receives a nice reaction when his name is announced. Juice and Finlay hit synchronized dropkicks to Fale before the start of the match. The bell rings and they move their attention to Leo, double teaming him in the corner. Juice looks to gain speed but is tripped up by Fale on the outside and brought to the floor before being sent into the guard rails. Fale sends Juice back into the ring where he and Leo take turns beating down Kenny Omega’s opposition next week in Kobe. Using speed to his advantage, Juice fights his way out of their corner. Finlay and Juice deliver a double-team Flapjack onto Leo before he is hooked into the Pulp Friction and is pinned. Juice and Finlay make a joke while walking up the winner’s ramp about Fukushima when Juice tripped on their exit.

Roppongi Vice def. Yujiro & Owens @ 6:54
Rocky and Beretta are in their documented final tag team match with one another. They go for their signature high five but Owens catches Rocky in mid-air, driving him into the corner. Yujiro and Owens isolate Beretta and knock Rocky off the apron. With the crowd behind, Beretta catches fire, hitting his tornado DDT and tags in Rocky. Coming in like a man possessed, Rocky delivers a springboard crossbody and a standing rana. While attempting the Strong Zero, Rocky is pulled off the apron by Owens and kicks Beretta into a Destroyer. Owens has control until Rocky runs in and RGP Vice hit stereo high knees, setting up for the Strong Zero and scoring the win. Yujiro takes the mic post-match and tells Beretta that he’s not good enough for the heavyweight division. He challenges Beretta to a singles match if he doesn’t move back to the junior division with Rocky. Vice bow to one another in the middle of the ring, hit their high-five and walk up the winner’s ramp.

Makabe, Elgin & Ibushi def. Suzuki, Iizuka & Taka @ 8:08
Suzuki-Gun take the match to the outside, Suzuki choking Elgin with the mic cord and Iizuka beating Ibushi down with a chair. A fan hands Suzuki a Suzuki-Gun towel and Suzuki chokes Elgin with the towel. They bring Ibushi into the ring and the three isolate him in their corner. With the crowd rallying behind him, Ibushi attempts to out-strike Suzuki but fails. Taka is tagged in and continues the beat-down until he gives Ibushi space and is met with a dropkick. Makabe gets the hot tag and takes it to Suzuki and they fire each other up with strikes. Ibushi with the tag, is again cut down due to the numbers game of Suzuki-Gun. Elgin comes in to even out the attack. With the playing field evened, Ibushi manages to smash Iizuka’s face via the Kamigoye. Suzuki takes out his frustration by hitting young lions with chairs while the winning team all shake hands and head to the back.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match
Funky Future (c) def. Kanemaru & Taichi
@ 15:42
Taichi graces us all with his lip-syncing of the challenger’s theme. Taguchi & Ricochet enter from the back wearing green versions of Taichi’s signature mask. The champions plan to attack Suzuki-Gun before the bell but Kanemaru & Taichi duck out of the ring before they have a chance. Trying to gain the advantage with a double team on Taguchi, the challengers are cut off and Taichi is sent into the corner with Taguchi directing Ricochet into hitting a string of running lariats onto Taichi. As usual, Taguchi gets overzealous with his comedy and Suzuki-Gun take the upper hand. Kanemaru impressively succeeds with a running a running leg drop over the guardrail on Taguchi. With Taguchi isolated, Suzuki-Gun do their best to keep the Funky Weapon grounded. Taichi being too confident allows Taguchi to connect with the rear view and tag Ricochet. Like a man on fire, Ricochet runs around the ring hitting crazy combos over both challengers. Once the win seemed in the champion’s hands, Kanemaru sprays whiskey into the eyes of Ricochet to even out the match. Taguchi is tagged and he comes in hot at Kanemaru before missing the rear view and eats a Deep Impact. To the surprise of everyone, Taguchi manages to kick out of the finish but Taichi makes sure the excitement is short-lived when he clears the champions with shots via the mic stand. Taichi powerbombs Taguchi and Kanemaru hits a perfect moonsault for a great near fall. They go for the combination again but Ricochet surprises Kanemaru with a rana from the top. Immediately, Ricochet dives onto Taichi on the outside and Taguchi locks Kanemaru into the Oh My & Garankle. As he’s about to reach the ropes, Ricochet springboards into a Shooting Star Press on the back to knock Kanemaru down and he taps out. Rocky Romero comes to the ring saying Roppongi Vice is dead but like Taguchi, he is a coach as well and that he is bringing a team to challenge Funky Future. Ricochet tells Rocky that Funky Future is ‘forever’, stealing Rocky’s catchphrase. The champions celebrate on their way to the back.

Before intermission ends, the switch blade promo plays.

IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
War Machine (c) def. G.O.D. & K.E.S.
@ 11:05
K.E.S. come out first and Archer does his signature water spray all over the crowd. War Machine enter representing Taguchi Japan colors. Archer and Hanson start with a test of power, delivering lariats to one another. G.O.D. cut them off when they run the ropes for momentum. They beat down Archer and Hanson but Rowe comes in to assist Hanson and War Machine gain the advantage. While in the middle of hitting a combo of running corner lariats, Archer rushes the ring and should tackles Hanson. Smith Jr. and Archer ground and isolate Hanson. Loa blind tags Smith Jr. and G.O.D. continue the beat down of Hanson. After an impressive Olympic Slam, Loa tags Tama. Using his speed his countered when Hanson uses his agility to connect with a handspring elbow and tag Rowe who delivers a flurry of running knee strikes and suplexes. His fire is short-lived when K.E.S. begin to double team which prompts G.O.D. to do the same and the match breaks down. Everyone in the ring, G.O.D. hit an assisted DDT and pin Rowe. The referee is quick to remind them that Smith Jr. is the legal man. They attempt to drag Smith Jr. to their corner for the tag but Archer tackles them and clears both members of G.O.D. out of the ring with a double lariat, the momentum taking himself outside as well. Hanson dives on the three of them, climbs to the top where he and Rowe hit Fallout on Smith Jr. War Machine have now pinned each team in championship matches on this tour yet each team still has another chance next week.The champions give forearm smashes to the young lions and fans alike, celebrating their victory.

Naito, Hiromu, Bushi, Evil & Sanada def. Okada, Ishii, Yano, Ospreay & Gedo @ 12:17
Okada and Evil come face to face and the crowd reacts big. Ospreay and Hiromu start off at a sane pace, whipping each other across the ring. Hiromu attempts a running rana but Ospreay cartwheels out. The two pose and tag out to Yano and Sanada respectively. Yano rushes to untie the turnbuckle pads but Sanada cuts him off. Yelling for a break, Yano is caught by Sanada’s rolling pin transitions and while extremely dizzy, is rolled into the Paradise Lock in the middle of the ring. Sanada drop kicks Yano to free him and tags in Bushi. Both Bushi and Hiromu give Yano the boot and tag in Naito. Despite his best efforts, Naito falls victim to Yano’s tricks and Ishii is tagged. With a big shoulder tackle, Ishii keeps Naito grounded and throws him into the corner, laying in strikes. Naito fires back but gets too cocky and eats a Brainbuster. The two exchange forearms in the middle before Naito focuses his attacks on Ishii’s knee, grounding him. LIJ fight the members of Chaos on the outside while Naito and Ishii continue their attacks in the ring. They go hold for hold until a suplex is hit onto Naito and both Okada and Evil become the legal men. They exchange moves, jockeying for position. Okada manages to ground Evil long enough to connect with the diving elow drop and signals for the Rainmaker. Evil counters and again they exchange control until a huge lariat is hit on Okada. Hiromu clears the ring for Evil, who attempts the Evil but is hit with Okada’s dropkick. The two are spent and tag Gedo and Bushi. Bushi gains favor but Ospreay cuts him off and everyone rushes in hitting signature moves. Evil connects with Evil on Okada, pinning him down with his foot. Hiromu holds Gedo into place for Bushi to climb to the top, diving off with the MX and the victory. Chairs are brought into the ring and Evil slams Okada via Darkness Falls onto the collection of chairs. Ishii comes in to avenge Okada but all five LIJ members are there to ground him. LIJ celebrate by raising their fists over Okada’s prone body. The young lions ice down Okada’s back and roll him outside, assisting him to the back.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match
Kushida (c) def. El Desperado
@ 16:56
Desperado gains advantage early with a wristlock, Kushida drops down, trips Desperado and rides him. Sent into the ropes, Kushida hand springs into a kick but is sent to the outside. Desperado attempts a dive but is caught with a kick. Kushida holds onto Desperado’s legs but is kicked off him to the guardrails and Desperado dives through the ropes with a senton to gain control. He sends Kushida in the crowd and applies the Stretch Muffler on the outside. Hobbling to the ring, Kushida breaks the twenty count only for Desperado to continue the attack of his legs, locking him again and splashing on top of the knee. He calls for his Suzuki-Gun allies to send his guitar to the ring. He winds up for the attack but the referee stops him.

With the ref’s back turned, Desperado is given a belt which he uses on Kushida’s back and continues the attack on the outside. Once the ref catches wind of what happened, he tells Desperado to bring the action back to the ring Kushida tries to gain momentum but when jumping over Desperado’s attack, tweaks his knee and is grounded once again. Pushing through the pain, Kushida delivers a flurry of kicks but when climbing the rope is cut off. Once on top of the ropes, Desperado’s arm is hooked by Kushida and is driven off the top. Kushida synchs the Hoverboard Lock only to be countered into the Stretch Muffler onto the injured knee. Desperado moves them into the center of the ring but Kushida frees an arm and wiggles his way to the ropes. While his knee is being attended to, Desperado sets up a chair in the corner and whips Kushida in that direction. His momentum is countered and Desperado hits the chair. In a moment of desperation, Desperado rips his own mask off and blames Kushida. The ref asks Kushida what happened but is thrown to the side by Desperado who hits Kushida low and rolls him up for a two count. The knee becomes the center of Desperado’s attack once moe, helping him gain an edge and send Kushida into the corner with the chair, face first. He climbs to the top but Kushida cuts him off and applies the Hoverboard Lock and dives from the top, hold still applied. Desperado struggles to counter the submission, only to be lifted up for the Small Package Driver and is defeated. As Desperado walks off with Suzuki-Gun, defeated, Ospreay comes out to challenge Kushida. Ospreay brings up that he’s lost to Kushida all over the world. He says his passion is to change New Japan’s junior division and to do that he must defeat Kushida. Hiromu rushes the ring and takes the mic from Ospreay but is immediately knocked out by Ospreay who shrugs. Kushida accepts the challenge and holds the title high. Hiromu comes back to his senses and throws a tantrum in the middle of the ring.

IwGP Intercontinental Championship Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) def. Zack Sabre Jr.
@ 30:13
Sabre Jr. comes out with Taka and gives the camera the finger before marching to the ring. They start off with catch wrestling. Sabre Jr. catches the advantage first, going for a waist lock, taking Tanahashi down, Tanahashi transitions and they both pop back up to their feet. Tanahashi takes the top but Sabre counters from underneath, applying a headlock with his legs. Rolling through, Tanahashi is immediately thrown back down into the headlock. The two fight for position and battle back up. After a shoulder tackle, Tanahashi celebrates but is caught in an arm bar by Sabre Jr. He escapes fast and rolls out to gain composure. Rolling back in, Sabre gains arm control of Tanahashi, grounding him and rolling through with wrist control. He’s countered into a wristlock himself and struggles to break out of Tanahashi’s control. His attempts are countered and is put into an arm lock. Sabre Jr. bridges and rolls through to gain wrist control once more. Tanahashi uses his strength to power out but Sabre Jr. uses leverage to ground the ace yet again. The crowd rallies behind Tanahashi, the two counter-wrestle and a frustrated Sabre Jr. rolls out of the ring upset that Tanahashi is an equal at his style. In a display of catch wrestling, Sabre Jr. takes advantage of Tanahashi’s exposed arm, twisting it and while applying a hold, mocks the signature air guitar motion of Tanahashi. The two begin exchanging attacks and Sabre Jr. is dropkicked to the outside. Attempting a High Fly Flow to Sabre Jr. on the outside, Tanahashi’s arm is caught by Sabre Jr. and is put into an arm bar. When they both meet back inside the ring, Sabre Jr. steps on the ankles of Tanahashi, sits on top of him and twists the ankles. Sabre Jr. challenges Tanahashi to engage him in a strike battle.

After gaining advantage, the Ace sets up for a Twist & Shout but Sabre Jr. is dropped on his head instead. Again the ace celebrates and is nearly caught in an armbar once more but captures the leg and Dragon Screws Sabre Jr.’s leg. The leg then becomes the focus but once grounded, Sabre Jr. is able to connect with some up-kicks to the injured arm of Tanahashi. They exchange pins, countering back and forth. The focus on catch wrestling heats up with both taking advantage of their respective injured limbs. Tanahashi powers out of a Triangle Choke into his signature Cloverleaf but is quickly transitioned back into the Triangle and is forced to find the ropes. Sabre Jr. is clear control begins focusing his attack on Tanahashi’s midsection with kicks. A kick is caught and the injured knee receives a kick of its own. Tanashashi hits the ropes for a Sling Blade but Sabre. Jr side-steps and hooked in an Octopus Hold. When he gets the rope break, Tanahashi baits Sabre Jr. to continue his attack. Sabre Jr.’s kick is caught and his sent into the ropes with via a Dragon Screw followed by a High Fly Flow to the outside. He rolls Sabre Jr. back in the ring and climbs the ropes for another High Fly Flow but Minoru Suzuki comes out and captures Tanahashi’s leg while Taka distracts the referee. Suzuki attacks Tanashashi while the ref’s back is turned. He goes to get a chair but is blocked by Elgin, who takes Suzuki to the back. Tanahashi fires up with a Sling Blade on Sabre Jr. then clears Taka off the apron. He climbs to the top for a final High Fly Flow but catches Sabre Jr.’s knees and is rolled into an arm bar. Forever battling, Tanahashi delivers two grounded Twist & Shouts, followed by a Sling Blade and jumps to the top for the High Fly Flow, defeating Sabre Jr. Kota Ibushi is called out by Tanahashi post-match and comes to the ring. He stands face-to-face with the ace, doesn’t say a word, only staring down Tanahashi before walking off. Kawato grabs Tanahashi’s air guitar from under the ring and tosses it to the ace who tunes then plays the guitar to the crowds joy.

This was a very good show from New Japan where all the crowd favorites won, leading to good feelings from start to finish. Rocky Romero promises a new junior tag team and new angles were set up for the near future. Kushida vs Ospreay is set for Octover 9th and Tanahashi vs Ibushi is likely going to be the main event of November’s Power Struggle event. Tanahashi/Sabre, Kushida/Desperado and Funky Future/Kanemaru & Taichi are all highly recommended viewing. Again, a very good show tonight from New Japan.

Robert McCauley is an NJPW enthusiast who has seen every show live since Jan. 4, 2015.

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