NJPW: Invasion Attack

Over the weekend, New Japan had their Invasion Attack show, headlined by IWGP champion AJ Styles vs. Kota Ibushi, winner of the New Japan Cup. Ibushi’s rise has been documented better in other places, but I did talk about him quite a bit in my post about the New Japan Cup. In short though, he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world, and still very young. Would this be the event he captures the IWGP title? Probably not, but you never know.

First though, there were other matches. There were the usual New Japan multi-man clusterfuck tag team matches, which were all entertaining enough. Toru Yano continues to be entertaining as hell as he trolls Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto and Alex Shelley got the pinfalls in their matches to set up title matches for them, and Tomoaki Honma is still awesome.

There were two tag team title matches. The best was the Jr title match, the Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson, defending against Roppongi Vice, Rocky Romero and Beretta. This match was all kinds of awesome, a solid **** The antics of the Young Bucks would be annoying if they didn’t back them up with skills in the ring. The main tag titles match had a lot to live up to, and it did not. In fact, that match was an example of the in-ring action not backing up the antics.

There were three main singles matches. Kenny Omega defended the IWGP Jr title against Mascara Dorada. A lot of people liked this match more then I did. It was fine, but not great. Kenny Omega is very hyped among some wrestling fans, and just judging from his New Japan matches, I’m not terribly impressed. Kazuchika Okada defeated Bad Luck Fale in a surprisingly good match. Fale is a big slow monster, a rarity for New Japan, but Okada got the best match from Fale I’ve seen yet. Okada looked great as well, hitting Bad Luck Fale with an impressive Tombstone Piledriver, and completing his redemption angle from losing his title match back at Wrestlekingdom in January.

The biggest match though, was of course the main event. Styles vs. Ibushi had high expectations, and, well…

Only two words can describe that. Fucking. Awesome. The match was good, and that finish pushed it over the top for me. AJ teased hitting the Styles Clash all night, but Ibushi always had a counter. But even he couldn’t get out of it when AJ grabs him out of his Phoenix Splash. That’s one of the smoothest top rope counters I’ve ever seen, and is Spot of the Year (is that an actual thing?) so far.

Invasion Attack set up the next month of New Japan nicely. Goto vs. Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura is already set, as is my favorite, Tomohiro Ishii defending the NEVER title against Togi Makabe. Okada laid out AJ Styles and the Bullet Club after the main event, setting up AJ’s next challenger. Okada held the IWGP belt for a year before losing it to AJ last year, so him winning it back from Styles would be a good bet.

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