King of Pro-Wrestling 2019 is in our rear view mirror, so without further ado let’s break ‘em down, folks!
As always, I’ve got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that’s worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.
Mind you, these are not star ratings. They’re not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you’re best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.
Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (2): Suzuki-gun chaos from the bell, Despy back from injury without losing a step, but RPG3K go after his injury and it’s a tense moment but it was a ruse all along! Pretty normal opening tag stuff here, but well executed and fairly fun. Nothing essential, but worth checking out if you’ve got the time to spare.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma vs. Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) (2): Starting with Tanahashi on Makabe, shifting through the matchups, all the spots you’d expect but there’s not much of substance here.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) vs. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & Taichi) (1): Suzuki-gun taking the action to the floor early, they dominate more or less until Shingo takes DOUKI out and the match spills into floorside chaos again and we rush on to the finish. Not much here. Pass.
Jushin Liger vs. Minoru Suzuki (5): A brilliant match. From the callback to their MMA fight with Suzuki nearly getting the submission out the gates, to the violence on the floor, to Suzuki’s single-minded dedication to breaking Liger’s arm, Jushin spent and throwing desperation palm strike after desperation palm strike, refusing to go down before his time... This match is full of hate in the best possible way and I couldn’t recommend it more. Watch it!
El Phantasmo vs. Will Ospreay (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (5): Slow and steady early, mat grappling as Phantasmo tries to prove that he came here to fight, no shenanigans, turning the heat up into high flying pyrotechnics and then exploding into wonderful chaos on the floor! Some balcony action ensues, we return to the ring, the tension builds as ELP can’t put him away clean, escalations ensue, and this is just a hot back and forth junior title match that’s definitely worth getting eyes on.
Bullet Club (“Switchblade” Jay White, KENTA, & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI) (2): Genteel feeling out, of course, gives way to Bullet Club taking things into a brawl on the floor. The action gets hype when we get a nice long Ishii/KENTA exchange, Goto/Switchblade is fine as well, and this never quite reaches great heights to where I’d recommend it, but it’s a solid match.
Juice Robinson vs. Lance Archer (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship No Disqualification Match) (4): Okay, so Mox being out is a huge bummer, no doubt about it. This match was always working from behind as a result, but they went hard, they brought out all the hardcore spots you’d expect and then some, and the end result was a damn fine title match.
EVIL vs. Kota Ibushi (c) (G1 Climax 29 Winner’s Right to Challenge Briefcase) (3): EVIL hitting hard early and often, bringing his strength to bear, Ibushi slugging right back with those deadly kicks of his, that’s the outline of this match. It’s a slugfest, and not without its merits, but I dunno, I feel like this one’s missing the spark of creativity and excellence that so often is Ibushi’s trademark.
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. SANADA (IWGP Heavyweight Championship) (4): This is a hard one for me to rate. On one hand, it’s an Okada title match, and full of all the things that make those great. On the other, you’re finally starting to see being The Guy wear on the Rainmaker, and he’s hitting that Tanahashi point where you know he needs a break but he also will definitely not be taking a break anytime soon.
And on the third hand, I dunno... SANADA is an incredibly talented dude but I kinda feel like New Japan have been trying to position him as this great rival for Okada and I just... don’t buy it? He’s never once held a singles title in New Japan and he’s 1-7 against Okada, so there’s no tension to these matches for me when there’s a title on the line.
All together, this makes for a match that didn’t terribly leave an impact on me, but may well be worth watching for you.
There you have it, folks
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.