NJPW: Strong Style Evolved Night Two

I’m back with Part Two of my Night Of Strong Style. I told you I wouldn’t be long, didn’t I?

I’ll keep this intro to a minimum as you all should have read my first part by now and you don’t need me waffling on. So I’ll shut up and let you enjoy Part 2!

Next up was a match I was looking forward to, just because Silas has never seen David Starr wrestle. I’ve watched him quite a few times on Progress, Rev Pro, and Beyond cards, and never walked away disappointed. But now I have to moan. I mean REALLY moan…

David Starr has around 10 monikers to his name including The Jewish Cannon, Being Really Good At Twitter, The Physical Embodiment Of Charisma. Now usually when the ring announcer of the promotion he’s wrestling at introduces him, they really go for it with the monikers. Really give it some gusto, put across those nicknames. Make a big deal out of it. But today wasn’t one of those days I’m afraid.

Today the ring announcer read them out very matter of factly. No passion or pizzazz to it. Just very bog standard. Like it wasn’t a big deal. I was not impressed, to say the least! I’m not an expert in the world of ring announcing but I’ve done enough to know when to push the boat out! JEEZ, I would have given my right arm and my signed Mick Foley figure to have that opportunity! Show some damn enthusiasm dammit!!!

With my rant now behind me I’ll continue and get back on track now. Starr’s opponent was the legendary Tiger Mask IV. Now the Tiger Mask gimmick has been around Japanese wrestling for many many years and this version, number four, has been in the “role” since 1995. Safe to say he knows his stuff.

Unfortunately, there was something off about this match. The chemistry between the two just wasn’t quite right. It was a good functional match, but it didn’t get out of third gear so to speak.

Silas was quickly on my back saying my standards must have dropped if I thought David Starr was great.

Up next before the intermission was a debuting WALTER versus a mainstay of NJPW, Blue Justice himself, Yuji Nagata.

Rumor has it that WALTER will be joining NJPW full time before the year is out and the four of us can’t wait! If a person was ever built for the promotion, it’s WALTER. He fits into the Japanese strong style culture and would make an instant impact.

Nagata gave as good as he got during this match but in the end, the younger adversary came out in the top to a loud ovation from the partisan crowd.

A quick wander around the merch area during the intermission and we saw up close and personal how small but defined Ishimori is, people, paying Will Ospreay to chop their chest, and I had possibly the worst hot dog I’ve ever had in my life…Yuk!

The second half resumed with YOSHI-HASHI against one half of CCK (a great British tag team) and BOLA headed, Chris Brookes.

It’s such a shame that this was put on after intermission as the pair of them had no chance with this crowd. The match died on its arse due to the crowd coming back from merch runs, toilet breaks, etc.

I thought it was a good match but I was very much in the minority. YOSHI-HASHI picked up the victory to a muted crowd reaction.

Honestly, us Brits do appreciate talent, I just think everyone must have made the same hot dog mistake as I did and took it out on the wrestlers on the ring

The co-main event was next and Silas who was sat next to me was literally salivating at seeing The Aerial Assassin in action live. People all around us were waiting with bated breath for the UK’s own Will Ospreay.

Kanemaru came out first and the crowd responded. The Suzuki-Gun member acknowledged the warm reception and paced across the ring waiting for Ospreay.

Holy Frickin S**t!!! The pop Ospreay got from us in Milton Keynes was immense!!! I’ve never heard him get a pop like that before, and that includes his appearance at the Rev Pro York Hall show after he won BOSJ two years ago. Just an amazing reception.

Will being Will, he played up to the crowd through the whole match, getting us to chant more and more. Probably the biggest pop in the match came when Ospreay hit a shooting star press across a prone Kanemaru who was lying across the top rope. An insane move!

Will grabbed the win with his Stormbreaker finisher, which looks so impressive in person. The velocity of the move is amazing!

Main event time and the whole reason why I was here. Ishii v Suzuki. The two most prominent NJPW roster members in my eyes. The epitome of Strong Style. Live in front of my eyes.

The British Tag Team Champions came out first (pet peeve is this, champs should always come out second in my opinion) with Zack Sabre Jr leading the charge. An almost Ospreay pop echoed around the arena as Zach popped his collar.

Side note – I prefer Zach’s other entrance music “Mother” by Idles not this trippy dance music mix that he walked out too.

I lost my collective shit when Minoru Suzuki, leader of Suzuki-Gun made his way out from the back in a slow methodical way. His Kazi Ni Nare music blaring….just hypnotizing.

Then…… Tomohiro Ishii, the Stone Pitbull walked out and I was pretty much in heaven! The fact that in a few short moments I’ll be seeing Ishii and Suzuki going at it in the center of the ring, right in from of my eyes!!

And to top off this main event, Ishii’s tag team partner was the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history….. Only bloody Kazuchika Okada!

Although this Okada was very much different from the guy we’ve watched for the past 2+ years. This was a guy that came to the ring without his pomp, without his flamboyant ring wear. Instead, he walked to the ring in a black vest top clutching four red balloons (???). A very strange Okada indeed.

Entrances done, announcements made (the ring announcer again didn’t up his game for the main event/title match!!!) it was time to get this show on the road!

Man, this match was everything I expected it to be and more! Zach twisting his opponents in ways their bodies shouldn’t be twisted. Okada was strong and confident – to a certain degree. And Ishii/Suzuki literally beat the living crap out of each other.

During the match, they stood in the ring and traded the hardest and sickest forearms I’ve ever heard or seen.

The crowd was literally shushing each other so we could hear how vicious they were.

The four of us were sitting around 50-75ft away and we could hear these shots like they were right next to us. The sounds were echoing around the arena! I was in Strong Style heaven now!

I’ll cut this love in short and say that although the match wasn’t a classic by any stretch, it will always be remembered by me as one of the finest matches I’ve ever seen live. Seeing two of my most favorite wrestlers in the world, right in front of my eyes will stay with me forever.

Suzuki-Gun won the fight, not match, with Zach making Ishii tap out, to retain their British Tag Team Championships.

And just like that, the night was over. We had witnessed NJPW’s first ever show in the UK (with Rev Pro’s help). The crowd soon filed out of the arena into the warm balmy British sunshine and made our way back to our homes, content that yes we may only have had a dramatically different show to what we first envisaged, but we still saw a bloody great show!

Let’s hope that when NJPW makes its way back to these shores, they’ll bring The Bucks, Omega, Ibushi, et al.

Now excuse me, folks, I’m jumping onto NJPW World to rewatch this entire event again. See you all back here at Pro Wrestling Post soon dude’s & dudette’s