NJPW: My Night Of Strong Style – Part One

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Image courtesy of njpw1972.com

Last Saturday, I went to THE hotbed of British professional wrestling – Milton Keynes* – to watch Super Strong Style Evolved United Kingdom. A two-night NJPW tour in conjunction with their British partners, Revolution Pro Wrestling.

*sense the sarcasm*

The event was announced at the back end of March this year, and as soon as it was announced, fellow SEPW member Tax Williams contacted a few of us Academy boys and asked if anyone fancied going to the Milton Keynes show as he was for sure (the Altrincham show was a bit too far for us southern folk). Could all travel up together and enjoy our first taste of live NJPW together…..

Within seconds I and Silas Roth had snapped off Tax’s arm, took him up on his offer and within a few days, the three of us were confirmed as going. To say I was a happy chappy is a complete and utter understatement!

I found Japanese wrestling during the mid-nineties, courtesy of The Wrestling Channel on Sky TV – man I miss that channel – GAEA, FMW, NOAH, were commonplace on the channel at the time.

I took an interest late after I had finished work one night, curious as to what the differences were between Western and Japanese wrestling styles and promotions. The one thing that hit me (literally) was just how hard every strike was. This wasn’t a lazy Sunday afternoon roll about at the Academy. Noooooooo this was a hard as nails early Monday morning wake up call that kicks your ass out the bed and into that Academy!

Fast forward 15 years and I was about to witness first hand what I watched after work one night. And I felt like a kid at Xmas once again!

The day of the show came – Sat 30th June – and I met up with Silas and awaited for Tax’s arrival to then begin our two-hour car journey.

Tax had also brought along for the road trip his close personal friend, Rich. Now himself and Tax had just started a podcast – World of Wrestling Podcast folks 😉 – and had decided that if we got caught in traffic, which we did, that they would record a podcast with myself and Silas as guests to give our opinions on the card and suchlike.

Never recorded a podcast before as I’m not a big fan of hearing my own voice, but that was soon forgotten as the four of us, while sat on the M25, talked about the upcoming card and what we were looking forward to.

The journey was actually quite fun, what with the podcast and just general wrestling chat. And Milton Keynes really is a concrete jungle with their legendary roundabouts (Google it, folks, it’s a Brit thing) every 75ft.

Soon enough the venue was in sight and in mere moments all four of us were in the arena, seated and ready for our first taste of live NJPW action.

The first natch was young boy Umino (who is NJPW referee Red Shoes son) against an unnamed opponent. Rich was looking forward to an unannounced Liger (imagine that!!), Tax was hoping for Naito, I called a returning Kid Lykos….. We were instead “treated” to another young boy called Dominator, coming to the ring doing some kind of drunken monkey style monk gimmick. Odd doesn’t cover it.

The match itself was OK, with Dominator hitting quite a lot of Mongolian chops – a move that is destined for a comeback soon I think. Umino showed a nice comeback but it was in vain as Dominator hit a second rope Mongolian chop for the pinfall victory.

The second match raised the spirits of us all in attendance when the screen showed the infamous Bullet Club logo along with it’s B-B-B-B-BULLET CLUB ring music. Out came the Tokyo Pimp Yujiro, complete with his “lady friends” accompanied by the diminutive but frickin awesome Taiji Ishimori aka Bone Soldier.

He may not have been in NJPW for long but fans of his work (myself included) know how great he is.

With Pimp’s associates outside the ring, it was Aussie Open time, Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher made they’re way to the ring to a great ovation.

The match – to me – was a showcase for Ishimori. He was an absolute dream to watch in this match, with the highlight being Ishimori baseball sliding under the bottom rope while at the same time giving a German suplex to Fletcher who was draped over the middle rope. A very audible “WOW” was heard from the crowd, including yours truly. A great spot from a great talent.

Bullet Club picked up the win (did you really expect anything else?) and once again the crowd had a slight stutter singing their theme tune.

Up next was the faction of the moment in NJPW Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, El Desperado, Iizuka) against until recently THE faction in the promotion, CHAOS (Toru Yano, Gedo, Jay White).

Thank the lucky stars! Taichi didn’t lip sync on the way to the ring! I’ll say it now, I am not his biggest fan. In fact, I’m not any fan of his. A very bland character that I just don’t… get. But luckily for him, he was accompanied by El Desperado who I thought should have had a dream match against Will Ospreay tonight, but hey ho…

Iizuka decided to flaunt the UK Health and Safety rules by entering through the crowd with his massive iron claw, trying his hardest to knock into fans on the way to the ring.

The very underappreciated Yano came out clasping his DVD followed by the head honcho of NJPW, Gedo (in case you didn’t know, Gedo is the head booker of the promotion). “Switchblade” Jay White brought up the real with that gorgeous North American title wrapped around his waist to a great ovation from this UK crowd. Yes, he has his haters but over the last few months I personally think he’s beginning to find his stride as Switchblade, and the upcoming G1 tournament could be the making of him.

A great fun, exciting, filler of a match with Iizuka using his iron claw to pick up an upset victory was the long and short of this match. Like I said, a quick filler match.

That’s enough NJPW action for you lovely lot so this is the end of Part One. Part two will be with you all in a short time, rest assured.

So until next time, ciao!

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