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NJPW ‘Destruction in Kobe’ (9.24.17) Event Recap

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Kenny Omega makes his anticipated return to New Japan Pro-Wrestling after his G1 Finals defeat to Naito. Both the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Tag Team Championships are on the line.

Tenzan & Kawato def. Oka & Kitamura @ 5:42
Oka and Kawato start rolling around first. When the advantage favored Kawato, Oka used his power, tagged in Kitamura and the two continued using their power to isolate the younger, smaller young lion. Kawato used his speed and agility to level the playing field and tagged Tenzan who delivered his signature Mongolian Chops. The veteran took Kitamura to the corner before sending him to the middle and lifting him up for a Brainbuster. Kitamura digs down deep and uses a combination of both speed and power to Spear Tenzan. Once in, Oka looked to dominate Tenzan with power but was unsuccessful so Kitamura illegally joined in to ground the vet. Jumping in with a Springboard Dropkick, Kawato eliminates the Kitamura factor which allowed Tenzan to focus locking in the Anaconda Vice to score the fall.

Makabe, Liger, Tiger, Taguchi & Ricochet def. Iizuka, Kanemaru, Taichi, Desperado & Taka @ 7:19
The Suzuki-Gun team attacks before the bell and send everyone but Tiger Mask out of the ring. Liger comes to help his friend and the two clean the house. All the faces come in and isolate Iizuka to the corner where Taguchi directs traffic. Iizuka gains advantage by locking his teeth around Taguchi “Funky Weapon”. The heels begin whipping Taguchi with a belt before Taichi brings the mallet in and shoves it in the aforementioned “Funky Weapon”. Taguchi turns the tides by delivering the same offense to Taichi and tags Ricochet, who comes in like a man on fire, taking out all of Suzuki-Gun with his signature flurry of moves. He sends in Makabe but lacking Ricochet’s speed, becomes a victim of the numbers game. His team comes in to help even the score and with Taka isolated in the ring, Makabe climbs the ropes and hits the King Kong Knee Drop to win.

Goto & Yoshi-Hashi def. Fale & Owens @ 5:41
Looking to prove their power, both big men for the team, Goto and Fale, start off. With the referee distracted, Owens helps Fale have an easier time with Goto. Owens is tagged but is overconfident and Goto fires back with a Brainbuster and brings Yoshi-Hashi in with a tag. All four men rush the ring trying to gain the upper hand. Yoshi-Hashi counters the Package Piledriver into a Rana, fires up with a running Lariat and drops Owens with Karma.

Beretta def. Yujiro Takahashi @ 13:21
Making his debut singles match as a heavyweight and his first singles match in New Japan since May 2016, Beretta debuts a new theme song and shirt which reads ‘Heavy Weight’. He starts off by throwing his shirt into the face of Yujiro and the two begin firing off on each other with strikes. Beretta showcases early that although he’s moved up, he’ll still be using his agility by hitting Tope to the outside. Yujiro uses his veteran experience to keep Beretta grounded and challenges the new heavyweight to a strike exchange. Digging deep, Beretta gains advantage with a big Lariat, a series of chops, an Enzuigiri and the Dudebuster DDT. He sends Yujiro to the outside with another Lariat and dives over the top only to take a shot to the ribs with Yujiro’s cane. He takes Beretta to the ramp and drops him with a Fisherman’s Buster on the metal supporter. Making his way back in at the count of nineteen, Yujiro immediately delivers the Miami Shine for a near fall. The crowd support is firmly behind Beretta, who kicks out of a Top Rope Brainbuster and the Tokyo Pimps. Yujiro himself takes near falls from a Figure Four Cradle and a Piledriver. Once Yujiro is positioned for the Dudebuster, you can sense the end is near. Beretta scores his first singles win as a heavyweight.

IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Killer Elite Squad def. War Machine (c) & Guerrillas of Destiny
@ 13:34
War Machine refuse to enter the ring, screaming that there are no rules for this match and challenge the teams to meet them on the outside. All six men brawl throughout the crowd. Tables are set up near ringside and all return to the ring. Chaos ensues as a flurry of big man power moves are hit one by one on everyone, no team gaining a sustained advantage. Archer teases throwing Tonga out into the crowd from the ramp. War Machine set Smith on a table and Rowe slams Hanson through the table Smith is on. Smith’s back is covered in lacerations from the table. Both War Machine and G.O.D. make eye contact from opposites sides of the floor. The two teams slug it out in the ring before War Machine hit Fallout but Smiths pulls the referee out at the count of two. Archer sends Hanson off the apron and through the table on the outside. K.E.S. isolates Rowe and deliver the Killer Bomb to gain the IWGP Tag Team Championships.

Tanahashi & Elgin def. Ibushi & Finlay @ 12:01
Tanahashi and Ibushi rapidly trade holds to start, both men feeling like equals. After the standoff they tag their partners in with full crowd support behind Elgin. Finlay is challenged by Elgin to show off his strength. Instead, Finlay uses agility to gain the advantage. Elgin shows he’s able to counter the speed with his power and tags Tanahashi back in, who hits a combination and stares down Ibushi before tagging Elgin back into the match. They use a series of tag moves before Tanahashi knocks Ibushi off the apron. Ibushi tries rushing Elgin from behind but is shot down immediately. Finlay uses the distraction to gain the upper hand. Both men tag their partners in and Ibushi/Tanahashi square off. Tanahashi grounds Ibushi with a Dragon Screw Leg Whip but Ibushi fires back up with a Bridging German Suplex. His advantage is short-lived with Tanahashi connects with a Sling Blade and tags Elgin. With a series of Lariats in the corner, a Forearm Smack and Enzuguri, Elgin takes control but soon eats a Dropkick and when Finlay is tagged, eats more Dropkicks from the fresher man. Adopting Tanahahi’s Iron Will, Elgin fires up and Body Presses Ibushi to the floor on top of Tanahashi. He then sends Finlay to the corner with a Buckle Bomb, Elgin Bomb combination to end the match. Ibushi and Tanahashi stare each other down before the ace celebrates with the title in the middle of the ring.

Ishii, Yano & Romero def. Naito, Sanada & Bushi @ 12:02
On entrance, Naito pushes the WK12 main event briefcase into the sight of his October 9th challenger, Ishii. Before the bell, Ishii challenges Naito to start the match with him. Naito obliges but before they touch, tags Bushi. An annoyed Ishii rushes Naito on the apron but is met with a spray of spit. Naito attempts to attack Ishii from behind but the Stone Pitbull took Naito to the outside and sent him into the gaurdrails so hard that he flew over the top and into the crowd. Yano and Sanada are the legal men and Sanada ties Yano up into a pinning comination where instead of pinning, spins Yano around causing dizziness. Yano tags out to Romero who comes in on fire but soon everything breaks down and the LIJ crew take control. Once Romero manages to tag Ishii in, the complexion of the match shifts in favor of Chaos. The LIJ numbers game bring advantage back onto their side. All three members pick Ishii apart with a flurry of offense and land several near falls. Yano comes in to even the playing field for his stablemate. In control, Ishii lifts Bushi for a winning Brainbuster. Still wanting his revenge, Ishii pulls Naito into the ring, pulls his shirt off and delivers a series of chops to the chest before storming off to the back.

Okada & Ospreay def. Evil & Hiromu @ 12:42
The crowd is split between Okada and Evil to open up the match. Evil gains the early advantage with Okada’s neck tapped up from the damage Evil has inflicted over the last nearly two months. They have a standoff and tag in the juniors who come out on fire. Ospreay wins their opening battle but is beaten down by Evil, which helps Hiromu get on top of Ospreay. Evil and Hiromu double team Ospreay, keeping him grounded with a Brainbuster. Okada attempts to come in and even the score but is cut down by Evil and sent back outside. Firing up, Ospreay takes them both out himself but when going to make the tag, realizes Okada is still knocked out. Evil goes to ground Ospreay once more but is met by a Handspring Frontkick and Okada, now back up in the corner, gets the tag. He clears the ring from both LIJ members and sends Evil over the guardrails but when charging in for a Crossbody, is met with a chair to the face by Evil. Sending Okada back into the ring, Evil hits several big moves, including Darkness Falls for a near fall. The crowd is now more in favor of Evil but his cut back down with okada’s Dropkick. The two men struggle to their corners but end up tagging their partners. Both juniors spam moves onto one another with Ospreay coming out on top and gaining the majority support from the crowd. Charging to the corner, Ospreay is met with Hiromu’s Belly-to-Belly Suplex right into the turnbuckle pads. He is lifted into the Dynamite Plunger for a great near fall. Ospreay flips out of a Time Bomb and launches himself into position for the OsCutter but is met by Evil who sets him up for the Evil, countered by Okada from behind who hits the Rainmaker allowing Ospreay time to land an OsCutter onto Hiromu to end the match. Post-match Ospreay points to his wrist tape, indicating that Kushida’s time as champion is up.

IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Match
Kenny Omega (c) def. Juice Robinson
@ 33:02
Kenny Omega makes his return to New Japan, defending his title against the man who upset him in the G1, Juice Robinson. Recently, Omega has had a documented knee injury. Early on Juice has the option to attack the knee but decides against the idea. When swinging to the apron, Omega tweaks his knee on the landing. He looks to slow the match down on the outside, sending Juice into the guardrail. Once back in the ring, Omega applies a Headlock to keep Juice on the mat. He tries to convince the crowd that his knee is fine but again tweaks it and falls to the floor. The damage allows Juice to take control, delivering a huge Lariat into the corner, followed up by a Cannonball and finally a Crossbody from the top which leads to a near fall. To swing momentum, Omega digs deep with a standing Rana and when Juice bails to the floor, eats a Tope. Clutching the knee, Omega tells trainers that he’s okay and climbs to the top rope. He dropkicks Juice onto the top of his back and drops him onto his knee via a Neckbreaker. The pain endured allows Juice time to recuperate when he hits a Leg Lariat. He’s sent into the ropes after attempting the Pulp Friction and when he’s bounced back, meets the knee of Omega and soon after, a Frankensteiner.

After another knee to the face, Omega sends Juice up for the One-Winged Angel but battles out and for the first time, attacks the injured knee. The desperate Juice begins dropping elbows onto the knee and applies a Single-Leg Boston Crab. Omega works his way to the ropes multiple times but his pulled back. He flips his body over and kicks the chest of Juice until he breaks the hold. Still in control, Juice continues driving Omega’s knee into various parts of the ring. Now, the crowd has turned against the crowd favorite, Juice Robinson, as he’s met with a significant amount of boos. He locks the knee into a Figure Four but his forced to break the hold. Omega sends Juice hard into the guardrails and looked to hit a dive to the outside but Juice evades and Omega lands on the injured knee once again. Sent back in the ring, the attack continues, this time with a Diving Headbutt from the top, head landing on the knee. The two battle on the apron with Omega gaining advantage after several chops. He lifts Juice and from the apron, jumps to the floor hitting an INSANE Brainbuster, causing a huge reaction from the crowd and commentary alike.

Breaking the count at nineteen, Juice fights his way back up to the apron but immedately is hit with a set of Snap Dragon Suplexes right onto the neck. With the injured knee, Omega plants the face of Juice with vicious strikes. The challenger shakes his head, refusing to give up and eats another knee. He screams at Omega to kill him, catching the next knee strike and lifts him into a Facebuster Suplex. Omega counters the Pulp Friction with a Spin Kick to the back of the head and rams another knee into the back of Juice’s head before lifting him up for a Piledriver. Determined to win, fire continues to burn in Juice and he connects with a huge Lariat. He lefts Omega for a Powerbomb but drops him, unable to add power. He connects with a strike to the face though and adds a Tiger Suplex to the combination and another strike to the face. The Pulp Friction is hooked, connected and kicked out of at two. The crowd is roaring with approval at this point, not believing what they’re seeing. Tanahashi is on commentary explaining the action they are seeing. Juice brings Omega to the corner and climbs the ropes, looking for a top rope Pulp Friction. Omega battles out and while standing on the second rope lands the One-Winged Angel, getting the three count. Omega takes the microphone post-match and says Juice tried very hard but make no mistake that Omega is the best on the planet. Thanks the crowd for the sellout attendance, goodbye and goodnight.

We’re then sent to the press conference where Omega is confronted by Yoshi-Hashi, who challenges for the US Championship. Omega laughs down this challenge but accepts as long as it’s not at WK12.

Overall a strong show from New Japan, the best of the Destruction Tour. Omega’s return was made to feel special and once again, delivered in 2017. The crazy Tag Team Championship match was a lot of fun, different from the standard NJPW match. Also, Yujiro had his best performance since 2014 when he went against Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship. All three matches are worth the time to watch.

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

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