by Bryan Rose, WrestlingObserver.com
Last week, Kazuchika Okada lost the IWGP championship to the new face of the Bullet Club, AJ Styles. After spending a month licking his wounds, he’s back on the hunt for the championship. With New Japan business increasing, the decision was made for the big rematch to headline the return of New Japan to the Yokohama Arena, a 17,000 arena that they hadn’t been to since 2003. To call it a successful show business wise would be pretty kind, only drawing around 7,800 people. But hey, business had been hot before hand, and it still is today. I think in the end, people weren’t into AJ Styles as a draw yet- I don’t think he really got over in Japan until the G1 tournament. But hey, it was worth a shot!
This show took place, of course, on May 25, 2014 at Yokohama Arena.
The first match shown was Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano vs. Shelton X Benjamin and Minoru Suzuki. This wasn’t a match so much that it was an angle that would lead to a series of bouts that would haunt the New Japan midcard for the rest of the year. So Iizuka and Yano make their way to the ring and enter it, preparing for the match. Suddenly, Iizuka blindsides Yano and all of Suzuki-gun jump Yano, including Shelton hitting paydirt on Yano as the ref is ordered to ring the bell.
Yano is laid out with the Gotch piledriver and is pinned in eight seconds. A fine angle to set up a bunch of lame matches that would climax with a fun match between Suzuki and Kazushi Sakuraba at WrestleKingdom 9. I just think out of all the people on the roster to feud with, Suzuki shouldn’t have spent six months of his career facing Yano in pointless tag match after tag match. Suzuki says in a post match interview that you better drop to your knees right in front of us, coming across as one intimidating human being. He throws the table over and walks away.
Next up is the main event between AJ Styles a and Kazuchika Okada, a rematch from last week’s show. Okada is interviewed before the match airs about AJ.
Okada says in his reflective interview is that if given a chance, he’ll take care of those interfering and will win back the title. He puts Styles over, saying that has great power, technique and balance. For this match, he made sure to keep an eye on those who would interfere, since it had been prevalent in his previous match.
The match aired following this. I liked this match better the first time I watched it live than the second, for whatever reason. I don’t even know what it is that makes me feel that, but the match was good, and had some great spots (that springboard reverse DDT!), but it didn’t feel like out of this world awesome. It wasn’t the Bullet Club stuff, because it amounted to only one spot in the match. It may have been the crowd, I think. They reacted to stuff, but it never felt like this was a hot crowd who were going crazy over every move. The match that they would have in the G1 tournament a couple of months later is miles better than either of the last two matches combined, so if you want to see a great representation of what these guys can do with one another, check that out on New Japan World. Good, very good in fact, but not great.
Okada is interviewed after the match, distraught over his loss. He gave it his all, he said. He apologizes for his loss. Gedo says that the Rainmaker will be back. Either he was very sweaty or was in tears. I guess wins and losses still matter in New Japan, that’s pretty cool. Anderson puts over Styles as he gives him the mic. AJ Styles says all of the Bullet Club’s catchphrases as streamers fall into the ring, Styles swimming in them.
Okada said that looking back, he was disappointed about how things turned out because it had become a one on one match and he still lost. But he’d love to face him again, and he would also like to face him outside of Japan.
And that’s it! I’ll be back for the new season of New Japan on AXS when it returns on 5/22 with matches from last year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Until then!