I’ve been looking forward to this show and even though I’m behind on my New Japan viewing (I’m only up to the first match of the New Japan Cup) I wanted to watch Strong Style Evolved as soon as possible. The main event looks fantastic and there were other matches I was looking forward to. (White vs Page being the main one)
So, with a 5:45am start in the UK (the earliest New Japan World would let me start watching the show from the beginning!), here’s some thoughts on Strong Style Evolved…
I liked the opener of Roppongi 3K vs So Cal Uncensored. (3/5) The action was frantic and there was lots of good double team moves…a few sloppy moments too, but it didn’t stop me enjoying the match.
David Finlay and Juice Robinson vs Hirooki Goto and Gedo was fine. (2.5/5) There was some good audience interaction here – the crowd really got behind Juice during the heat segment. Finlay got the win for his team and I think it’s the first time I’ve seen him win a match. I like him and Juice as a team to be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing them involved with the Hvy. Tag Team Titles.
I enjoyed Toru Yano and Chuckie T vs Killer Elite Squad more than I thought I would. (3/5) This match was booked perfectly – KES are good at beating people up, Chuckie T is good as the valiant underdog and Yano is good at comedy, so that’s what this match focused on. I laughed aloud at Yano teasing a dive to the outside then throwing the turnbuckle padding at KES…
The match between Cody/Marty Scrull and G.O.D. was a decent match (3/5) but the highlight was the pre -match antics with Cody trying to reason with G.O.D. Cody’s ongoing battle with Tomasso Ciampa to see who is the most hated man in wrestling is a joy to watch…
The Los Ingobernables de Japon vs Taguchi Japan four man tag match (3/5) was good, but I feel like I’ve seen it hundreds of times at this point. Still, if it involves Dragon Lee and Hiromu Takahashi, it’s worth seeing again. A good match, but I reckon these guys could have this match in their sleep by now.
Will Ospreay vs Jushin Liger was a OK exhibition (3/5) and probably the best match you could do after Rey Mysterio’s injury, but I can’t say it really excited me. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh because I knew Osperay wasn’t losing…my highlight was the post match promos and attack from Scrull, which will hopefully lead to some good matches down the line.
Kazuchika Okada and Tomihiro Ishii’s loss to Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr (3.5/5) was a fine tag team match. It was a methodical, technical match with lots of great submissions and striking…the goal was to build to Okada vs Sabre at Sakura Genesis and for me it succeeded.
The US Heavyweight Title match between Jay White and Hangman Page (3.5/5) was a grower. It started slowly at first, before a quiet crowd and I was wondering if these two had been mismatched – my first thought was maybe the match should have been White or Page vs an energetic face like Juice Robinson or David Finlay.
However, the match built towards the finish nicely and I felt the crowd were slowly won over by both men’s efforts and risk taking. From Jay White’s various insane suplexes (a German Suplex on the ring apron being the highlight) to Page’s moonsault and shooting star press from the apron to the floor, this match had some huge spots. The finish (White countering the Rite of Passage into the Blade Runner) was pretty cool too.
The Main Event of The Golden Lovers vs The Young Bucks was incredible (5/5). The action was superb, but it was the storytelling that made me give it full marks. There’s too many things to list really – through Being The Elite and the last four months of New Japan shows, so many seeds have been planted. From Omega’s reluctance to fight the Bucks, to Nick Jackson wearing a similar weightlifting belt as Cody had on earlier in the night, to the post match resolution and Cody’s interjection into proceedings…in my opinion, the Golden Lovers/Bullet Club feud is the best story in wrestling right now, hands down.
Overall, Strong Style Evolved scored 3.61/5.00. The score could have been higher too- I think that a few of the early tag matches dragged the score down. I’d definitely recommend watching the last three matches, especially the main event. After Strong Style Evolved, I’m really looking forward to both Sunday’s Sakura Genesis card and the G1 Special from San Francisco in July….