NJPW: Invasion Attack 2015


NJPW: Invasion Attack
April 5, 2015
Tokyo, Japan
Ryogoku Sumo Hall

The current IWGP champs are as follows:
IWGP Heavyweight Champion: AJ Styles (2/11/2015)
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion: Kenny Omega (1/4/2015)
IWGP Tag Team Champions: Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson (2/11/2015)
IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champions: The Young Bucks (2/11/2015)
IWGP Intercontinental Champion: Shinsuke Nakamura (9/21/2014)
NEVER Openweight Champion: Tomohiro Ishii (2/14/2015)

The Bullet Club has gone FULL 1997 nWo-style on the championships in New Japan. Tonight, all four of their championships are on the line. New Japan Cup winner Kota Ibushi meets IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles in the main event, Kenny Omega defends his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight crown against Mascara Dorada, Rocky Romero and Baretta take on the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Champs the Young Bucks, and Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson battle over the IWGP tag belts with the Kingdom from Ring of Honor. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES FOR CHANGE.

NOTE: If you’re looking for a hardcore puroresu fan perspective for this show, unfortunately you’ve come to the wrong place. I am at best a casual fan of New Japan, but the World Pro Wrestling show on AXS is peaking my interest in what they are capable of doing, so that’s why this recap is happening. That being said, I will do my best to not assume anything or hopefully make you roll your eyes at my ignorance as I hope that doesn’t show through all too much.

  • Yuji Nagata, Captain New Japan, Yohei Komatsu & Time Splitters vs. Jushin Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV & Sho Tanaka

I spy THREE former WCW workers in here: Nagata, Nakanishi, and of course Liger. I can already feel the eyes rolling at me. Well, GO AHEAD. In case you are less informed than I, Time Splitters (which may or may not have anything to do with the video game) consists of Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA. We start off with two of the most experienced guys (who can still go) in the ring: Nakanishi and Nagata. Well, sort of. Nakanishi is all elbow smashes and clotheslines. He NO-SELLS an Exploder and works up the crowd to knock down Nagata with another clothesline. Speaking of ten-man tags, I wish WWE did these more for PPV openers. It would give some guys WWE Network special experience and give them a few minutes to showcase what they can do. Anyways, Nagata escapes a TORTURE RACK and tries to break Kurasawa’s arm until that Funky Dragon named Taguchi makes the save. Nagata kicks him in the butt and tags in KUSHIDA. Tiger Mask comes in and hits a tiger driver on KUSHIDA for two. My man Liger gets a turn and tilt-a-whirl backbreakers KUSHIDA before putting him in the surfboard. That’s so Liger. KUSHIDA escapes and handspring elbows Tiger Mask and Liger. Now Taguchi and Captain New Japan work in some silly butt spots. Now Team Liger unloads on Captain New Japan as the young boy Sho Tanaka hits a standing powerslam on CNJ for two. CNJ tags out to Komatsu who gets in trouble with Nakanishi, but he’s too fast for him and knocks him down with a flying forearm. In comes Shelley to battle Tanaka, but Tanaka fights off a double-team from the Time Splitters. Nakanishi takes center stage with Nagata and Captain New Japan as he takes them both over with a Northern Lights suplex of sorts. Meanwhile, Tanaka gets some payback from Time Splitters as they destroy him with an old MCMG spot. Shelley hits AUTOMATIC MIDNIGHT on Tanaka and gets the pinfall. (8:15) Fun short match that gave everybody a chance to shine. **

  • Tama Tonga, Cody Hall, and Yujiro Takahashi (w/Mao) vs. Tomoaki Honma & Tencozy

Hiroyoshi Tenzan now wears the NWA world heavyweight title. He secured the championship by taking it from Rob Conway back on February 14. That was also the same night Tomoaki Honma failed to capture the vacant NEVER Openweight title against Tomohiro Ishii in what Meltzer called a perfect five-star match. Bullet Club BUM RUSHES THE SHOW and leaves Honma alone with Hall and Tama. He fights off Hall and as Tama tries to mock Honma’s hilarious diving headbutt called the Kokeshi, Honma moves and delivers to Tama in return. Hall receives the same treatment. Time for Tencozy to double-team Takahashi as they beat him down and deliver a diving headbutt/slingshot elbow drop combo. Knee Drop Bulldog by Tenzan gets two. The Bullet Club triple-team Tenzan to take control of the match. Tama’s scream mask face paint is incredible. I freaking love it. Hall does okay, but he’s still very young and has a lot of time to develop. Hot tag to Kojima, he chops Takahashi a whole bunch as he’s known to do. That dude really deserves what he gets. I hate him in such a GOOD ‘rasslin kind of way. Like, I would pay to see him get beat up. I don’t know what the crowd is yelling with Kojima about, but he drops a flying elbow on Takahashi for two. Like an a-hole, Takahashi bites out of the Cozy Cutter and hits a fisherman buster. Tag to Tama, he avalanches Kojima and slithers around before hitting a jumping frog splash for two. Kojima fires back with the COZY CUTTER AND LARIAT, but Tama spears him down instead. Tags to Honma and Hall, Honma winds up to take down the big guy but gets booted down at the last second. Bullet Club annihilates Honma in the corner as Hall unloads with a nasty Discus Clothesline for 1-2-NO! Stick with that, bro. Honma slips out of the RAZOR’S EDGE and shoulderblocks Hall down. Tencozy delivers a 3D to Hall! KOKESHI follows as Honma scores the pinfall. (9:27) This reminded me of the nWo B-team taking on Harlem Heat and a partner or the Steiners and a partner as the heels just took bumps and made the good guys look good. **½

  • IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Baretta)

So if anybody can get Roppongi Vice’s theme music up on YouTube, get on that. The lyrics sound incredibly ridiculous. After googling Roppongi, it turns out it is a district of Tokyo that is really a lot like the Miami here in America with an “active night club scene”. At least that’s what I imagine Miami being like. I’ve personally never been. Baretta gets the best of flippy floppy stuff to start with a backdrop and the Northern Lights suplex on Nick. In comes Romero, he catches Matt coming off the top for the Arn Anderson flip. This match also have as many crotch chops as possible in one match. In a cool bit when the Young Bucks have had enough, they take their belts and head for the exit sign. When Romero and Baretta go after them, the Young Bucks STEREO SUPERKICK down the challengers and sprint for the ring to beat the twenty-count. Baretta just barely makes it back in when Romero throw him back in the ring right before he’s counted out. Now the Young Bucks rule Baretta for a while. Romero eventually has enough of the crotch chops and slaps Matt across the face. Matt makes him pay with a superkick off the apron. Go figure. Baretta stops a charge from Matt by stomping him down to the mat. He goes for the tag, but his partner is down and out on the floor. Nick unloads with a pair of knee strikes for two. Swanton Bomb from Nick hits knees and Baretta delivers a tornado DDT to set up the HOT TAG TO ROMERO.

He is a house of fire with dropkicks and headscissors everywhere. Shiranui on Nick gets two. As Roppongi Vice delivers a series of knee strikes to Nick, they still only get a nearfall. Matt drags Nick over to his corner and tags himself in as Nick looks out. So many crotch chops as Matt and Romero get into a superkick and clothesline battle. Nick yanks Baretta off the apron to prevent a tag from Romero. He hits Romero with a slingshot sitout facebuster and then shoots out to the apron to nail Baretta with a tornado DDT to the floor. Matt puts Romero in the ropes as Nick flies down with a Swanton Bomb for two. Romero fights off More Bang For Your Buck and the Indytaker. With Nick straddling the top turnbuckle, he blocks a hurracanrana and gives Romero over to Matt to actually get the Indytaker after all. Cover, 1-2-NO! Baretta manages to shove Nick onto the pin to break it up. To avoid a charge from Baretta, the Young Bucks pull the ref in his way. When he puts on the brakes, the Young Bucks STEREO SUPERKICK him down. Buckle Bomb and enziguri kick from the Young Bucks to Romero. They really want MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK, but Baretta interrupts and brings Matt down before his moonsault with a SUPER GERMAN SUPLEX. Meanwhile, Romero wipes out Nick with a tope suicida as now they can deliver STRONG ZERO to Matt for the pinfall and the titles. (12:35) Started off a little silly, but that’s more because I hate the flippy floppy counters that go nowhere than anything. After that though, this was a pretty fun tag match with Roppongi Vice having an answer for MBFYB. ***¼

  • IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega (w/Tama Tonga) vs. Mascara Dorada

Dorada has an entire entourage in his corner making sure he’s treated fairly against the Bullet Club, I’m sure. The entourage includes pretty much all the juniors from the opener no matter which team they were on. After running the ropes a bunch, Omega sidesteps a springboard crossbody and stomps the poor guy. Alex Shelley tries to speak up for his friend, but gets spat on. That’s enough distraction for Dorada to fight back with a rope walking springboard into a wheelbarrow armdrag. The dude is just so fluid walking them ropes. Tope suicida backs Omega up against the guardrail. Some guardrail action turns south for Dorada as Omega catches him in mid-air coming off the apron and drops him onto the apron. That prompts a La Parka taunt, which either the crowd didn’t understand or thought it was too disrespectful to Dorada. I DON’T KNOW. Anyways, I chuckled. Back inside, Omega gets slam dunked when he wants a flying body press, but then dropkicks Dorada when he tries a springboard. He wears down Dorada’s back some more. There’s a chopfest, which Omega stops with a thumb to the eye. Because what would Roddy Piper do? Spinning DDT on Omega leads to a springboard dropkick. While Omega is on the apron, Dorada leaps over the top rope and headscissors Omega down to the floor. Brutal! During the replay, Dorada slip and slides from the ring to the floor onto Omega. Back inside, Omega mounts his comeback and applies the bow and arrow backbreaker for two. Dorada tries a bunch of sunset flips, but keeps on getting two counts. While Omega is stuck standing on the middle rope, Dorada gives him a headscissors down to the mat. What – he can’t walk the ropes and do it? Guess he’s not PRIMETIME, baby. He does walk the ropes and moonsaults onto Omega though, which is pretty primetime. Before Dorada can capitalize anymore, Omega knees him in the head and delivers the ONE-WINGED ANGEL for the three-count and retains his title. (13:01) Afterwards, Omega discusses what being the Cleaner of New Japan means and that Alex Shelley is next. I would have liked to have seen more of the back work done on Dorada as Omega abandoned the back and just kept going with the usual lucha stuff until he came to the finish. ***¼

  • IWGP Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. The Kingdom (w/Maria Kanellis)

I will say – I have forgotten how hot Maria is. She does have quite a nice rear end – and she accentuates that almost to the max during the Kingdom’s entrance. Kind of weird that her husband is like DIRECTING THE CAMERA TO STARE AT IT, but wrestling is a freaky business. Not sure how long Doc Gallows has been painting his face like he’s another member of the Powers of Pain or Demolition, but there he is. Karl Anderson seems to have the hots for Maria as Gallows tells him to get that BITCH out of his eyesight. Taven faces Anderson to start. The Kingdom work over Anderson’s arm to start. We get Gallows and Bennett next. He drops Bennett with a backbreaker and knocks Taven off the apron. With both Taven and Bennett down, Anderson wants to go after Maria. She gets chased into the ring where she’s grabbed by the hair. Bennett saves the day, but both Bennett and Taven eat big boots. Bennett plays face in peril for a bit. Hot tag to Taven, he’s got enziguri kicks for both Bullet Club members. Oddly enough, Bennett and Taven deliver the Twist of Fate and Swanton Bomb combo to Anderson for two. Match breaks down and the Bullet Club give Bennett the Reverse 3D for two. Fisherman Buster on the knee gets two as well. Taven interrupts a double-team and takes Gallows to the floor. Meanwhile, Anderson lands the Baddest Kick in the World for 1-2-NO! As the Gun Stun seems imminent, Maria provides some distraction for Anderson and who can blame him. Gallows takes care of Maria, but it’s enough for the Kingdom to land the superkick and the spear on Anderson. Plancha by Taven takes out Gallows as the Kingdom delivers HAIL MARY to Anderson for the win and the tag titles. (9:42) The decision to put the belts on the Kingdom was a little bit of a head scratcher, but I assume it will come into play at the Ring of Honor/NJPW Global Wars shows to temporarily give some credence to the opposing side. One of the weaker matches of the night too. Just not a lot going on here. **

There’s about a twenty minute intermission here with G1 Climax 25 ads and a recap of what happened on tonight’s card if you came in late.

  • Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Togi Makabe, Hirooki Goto & Tetsuya Naito

Immediately, Ishii is shoving the NEVER Openweight title in Makabe’s face, which is AWESOME. Wrestling Dontaku’s main event with Nakamura and Goto starts us off. Nakamura toils with Goto to start and grinds his foot on the boot choke. Feeling obviously disrespected, Goto fires back with a flurry of elbow strikes in his corner. Makabe peels Goto off Nakamura and gets shoved into Ishii, which is fine with Makabe. Ishii wins with chops and elbow strike MADNESS in the corner. Makabe – my FAVORITE right now – NO-SELLS the running clothesline and unloads with elbow strikes of his own to put Ishii down. More elbow strikes and Ishii is back down with a shoulder tackle. Tag to Naito, he runs the ropes all around Ishii, and ultimately whips him into Makabe! HA. Well, now the match breaks down and Ishii uses Makabe’s chain against him. Just bad news. Back inside, Naito plays face in peril as CHAOS dominates. YOSHI-HASHI gets a nearfall with Chakram. Naito fights off a powerbomb and avoids the Bunker Buster to land a flying forearm smash. Another Ishii versus Makabe showdown as they charge each other with clotheslines. Makabe is just a beast. Ten-count corner punch and a Northern Lights gets two. It takes a handful of lariats, but Ishii finally goes down when they both charge. Just awesome. Kneeling Powerbomb on Ishii gets 1-2-NO! Ishii starts NO-SELLING the elbow strikes and fires back on a charging Makabe with a lariat of his own. DOWN GOES MAKABE! Tag to Nakamura, Makabe absorbs the knee strikes and enziguris to drill him with a lariat. Makabe reaches Goto for a tag who kicks the crap out of Nakamura. YOSHI-HASHI helps out Nakamura with Goto, but Goto fights them off with lariats. We get an exchange mid-ring with Nakamura and Goto. Reverse Powerslam sets up a possible Boma Ye, but Naito flies in with a dropkick. Ishii nails him with a lariat. In comes Makabe, he blasts through a double back elbow from Ishii and Yoshi only to come back around with a double clothesline. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THAT? Makabe leaves Goto alone with Nakamura, but Nakamura avoids the Shouten and lands the BOMA YE off the second rope. Nakamura looks for the knockout Boma Ye, but charges into a Fireman’s Carry Neckbreaker. Backdrop Driver to Nakamura gets 1-2-NO! Naito and Makabe head to the floor again with Yoshi and Ishii. Goto hits Nakamura with a couple NASTY short-arm lariats and hits the SHOUTEN for the win. (13:50) Flipping awesome match. Some beastly interactions between Makabe and Ishii with some epic exchanges between Nakamura and Goto to get you pumped when they clash at Wrestling Dontaku. Naito and YOSHI-HASHI served their purposes as well. While Yoshi was an annoying little pest, Naito was the quintessential Ricky Morton for a few short moments as Yoshi’s counterpart. Easily my favorite match of the night so far. Loved every second of this. Afterwards, Ishii and Makabe have to be separated. ****¼

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba

After Yano spends the first minute or so ducking Tanahashi, he tags out and lets the shooters play. As they get up against the ropes after a while, Shibata decides NOT to break clean and slaps Sakuraba across the face. Back inside, Shibata catches a kick and corners Sakuraba for a tag to Tanahashi. He gets rough with Sakuraba and scares Yano off the apron, which comes back to bite him when he comes off the ropes and gets tripped and pulled out to the floor for guardrail fun. Yano continues the violence by jabbing Tanahashi in the jaw with a chair. Back in, Sakuraba kicks down Tanahashi and double stomps his face. Now the match breaks down a bit as Yano gets a tag. Tanahashi avoids an avalanche and forearm smashes him down though. Back to the shooters. Shibata elbow strikes Sakuraba down in the corner and lands a hesitation dropkick. Shibata then pulls Sakuraba’s shirt over his head and applies a figure-four. WOO! Sakuraba reverses out and removes his shirt. Inoki Sleeper on Shibata! Yano manages to stop Tanahashi from breaking the hold, but Shibata makes the ropes anyways. KIMURA LOCK though makes Shibata tap. (10:52) Well, this was perfectly average. Is Tanahashi ever not feuding with CHAOS? He’s like the Maxwell Smart of New Japan. I hope everyone gets that reference. **¼

  • Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) vs. Bad Luck Fale (w/Tama Tonga)

So Okada has not had a very good win-loss record here in 2015. He lost the IWGP heavyweight title back to Tanahashi in the Tokyo Dome and he lost to Bad Luck Fale in the FIRST ROUND of the New Japan Cup. He got a pinfall victory over Bad Luck Fale in an eight-man tag when CHAOS took on the Bullet Club on the night of the finals of the New Japan Cup, but he needs a 1-on-1 win here to really boost his confidence, which I know sounds crazy when you’re talking about Okada lacking in that department. Okada BUM RUSHES THE SHOW as they trade elbow strikes. He trips up a charge and low kicks Fale in the back of the head. Fale runs Okada down with a shoulder tackle as we head to the floor for another shoulder tackle. In a total dick move, Fale rips off a commentator’s tie and chokes Okada down. More guardrail action ensues. Back in, Fale settles into a nerve hold. He looks like a tall Tazz. Okada looks to fight out with elbow strikes, but Fale fires back and boots him down. Back to the floor, Okada boots Fale over the guardrail and leaps in his arms. Okada escapes a DEADLY snake eyes and takes Fale back in the ring. He hits the DDT and calls for the Tombstone, but that won’t work for obvious reasons. Samoan Drop by Fale leads to an avalanche. Big splash gets two. Time for the GRENADE, but Okada escapes and SLAMS Fale for the Flying Elbow. Finisher attempts are traded, but Okada fires the biggest bomb by lifting Fale up out of the BAD LUCK FALL for the Reverse Neckbreaker. Fale falls back on top of Okada to prevent the Tombstone from happening. Okada leapfrogs a spear, but can’t avoid the second try. Cover, 1-2-NO! Crowd really thought it was over. Holy crap, Bad Luck Fale goes to the top rope and dives down on top of Okada for 1-2-NO! Okada does however slip out of the BAD LUCK FALL and hits that high standing dropkick to the back of Fale’s head. Okada dropkicks away the GRENADE and even though Fale ducks the RAIN MAKER, he gets the German Suplex for 1-2-NO! He catches Fale with another standing dropkick and LIFTS FALE UP FOR THE TOMBSTONE. RAINMAKER! Good night, Fale. (16:00) I like it! Great psychology here as they did a really good job at pointing out Fale’s size difference and how that was a real hurdle for Okada to cross with his offense. Also, Okada did an amazing job at being able to hide Fale’s weaknesses and made him look real legit. Just a really good match. ***¾

  • IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles (w/Kenny Omega) vs. Kota Ibushi

Can the eternal underdog Kota Ibushi grab the brass ring tonight and take the top prize in Japan away from AJ Styles? We’re about to find out. AJ tries to test what Ibushi is about to start by trying to get him to make a mistake. Well, Ibushi sends him rolling to the outside with a brief flurry. Back in, they try to get the quick win on each other with rollups and such, which ultimately sets up a potential Styles Clash. They circle each other again and avoid each other’s kicks until Styles runs into one from Ibushi. He REALLY wants that moonsault press out of the corner that he’s known for, but tries it TWICE anyways. He rolls through on the floor knowing that Styles moved, but AJ ducks a big kick and delivers a release German suplex. Ibushi makes it back inside at the count of nineteen. Jumping knee drop and the corner clothesline leads to a backbreaker. Leapfrog from AJ sets up the Best Dropkick in the Business. Back to the floor, Styles drops Ibushi on the guardrail and brings him back inside for the Muta Lock. When he lets Ibushi up, Ibushi stops a springboard with a kick. Standing Moonsault gets two. Styles then catches a kick and goes after the knee. During all that work, Ibushi leapfrogs a baseball slide and double stomps AJ on the chest. As Styles rolls to the floor, Ibushi lands the moonsault press out of the corner. Styles BARELY caught him. In the ring, Ibushi catches AJ with a springboard dropkick and hits a Lionsault for two. AJ avoids the Dragon Suplex, but gets taken over with the German Suplex for another nearfall. Over in the corner, Styles counters a suplex by kicking off the corner and bringing Ibushi over into the corner himself. Nasty Asai DDT to Ibushi gets two. Styles Clash won’t work just yet.

Ibushi absorbs a strike combo from AJ and the Pele Kick with a Pele Kick of his own. Not sure what Ibushi is thinking next as he seems to want to suplex AJ back inside the ring from the apron while standing on the top rope. AJ knocks him back and hits the Springboard Forearm Smash. Wheelbarrow Facebuster to Ibushi gets two. BLOODY SUNDAY to Ibushi! He desperately kicks away the STYLES CLASH though, but finds himself in the CALF KILLER. Ibushi finds the ropes and knocks AJ silly with a series of blows to the head. Lariat from AJ lands Ibushi on the back of his head. However, Ibushi fights off the SUPER STYLES CLASH and takes Styles down to the mat with the Springboard Hurracanrana! Cover, 1-2-NO! Styles avoids the PHOENIX PLEX, but gets drilled with a lariat. Ibushi does have a WILD lariat. Ligerbomb by Ibushi gets 1-2-NO! It could be time for the Golden Star Press, but that’s when his former bro Kenny Omega leaps on the apron and distracts. Ibushi goes for the GOLDEN STAR PRESS anyways, but AJ gets up and catches Ibushi in mid-air and hits the STYLES CLASH for the win. (27:02) While a great, well-worked match and a load of effort put in from these two, I don’t know that it’s a MOTYC. Never felt like Ibushi was that convincing as if he was going to take the match in the end. I’ve just seen more dramatic matches involving Ibushi like his G1 Climax match with Nakamura in 2013 for example. I should also mention that one of my small pet peeves in this match is that it seemed like AJ had to get in the way to take a few of Ibushi’s spots here and there, which bugged me a little bit. ****

After the bell, Kenny Omega continues to look torn about his friendship with Kota Ibushi. More interesting than that, Kazuchika Okada is feeling so good about himself after convincingly defeating Bad Luck Fale all by himself tonight that he clears out the Bullet Club and gives AJ Styles the RAINMAKER. Gedo says some stuff as Okada does the Rain Maker pose over AJ while holding the IWGP title belt. Gold confetti drops from the ceiling – BECAUSE WHY NOT. Okada lays the belt on AJ and walks out with Gedo. Tama and Takahashi help AJ out as he has no idea where he is at right now.

Final Thoughts: It’s definitely a thumbs up show, but it’s also FOUR HOURS long. If you’re like me and you’re a tad ADHD (which is why it’s taken me several days to get this recap done), you might want to just pick out the stuff that outshines everything else (especially if you’re a casual NJPW fan) like the CHAOS six-man and the main event. Again, thumbs up for Invasion Attack 2015.

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