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NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam 2021: MetLife Dome.


The Natural
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Taken from f4wonline.com and contains spoilers for NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam yesterday at the Tokyo Dome:

Spoiler

Three title matches have been announced for NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome on Sunday, September 5.

In the main event, Shingo Takagi will defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against EVIL. This match was set up at Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome when EVIL attacked Shingo after his main event title defense against Hiroshi Tanahashi. 

The IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship will be on the line in a three-way at MetLife Dome. Champions Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. will defend against Tetsuya Naito & SANADA, as well as Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI. Taichi and Sabre defeated Naito and SANADA for the titles at the Tokyo Dome. Following their win, Goto and YOSHI-HASHI appeared and declared their intentions to be the next challengers. 

Also announced, new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Robbie Eagles will defend his title against the returning Hiromu Takahashi. Hiromu has been out of action with a torn pectoral, but announced last week that he has been medically cleared. 

Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome will be a two-night event on Saturday, September 4 and Sunday, September 5. No matches have been announced for the September 4 show. 

Here is the lineup for night two:

NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome, Sunday, September 5, 2 a.m. Eastern time on NJPW World --

  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs. EVIL
  • IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito & SANADA vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Robbie Eagles (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi

 

Edited by The Natural
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Posted (edited)

Don't get me started on IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi getting stuck with EVIL and EVIL using a homophobic slur yet is still in this match. You get a rare triple threat match for the IWGP World Tag Team Championship. That's interesting and Hiromu Takahashi going for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship he had to vacate after tearing his pectoral muscle in February.

Edited by The Natural
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Putting EVIL in there as a padding defense so early in Shingo's reign feels like when NOAH put the belt on Rikioh then fed him Akitoshi Saito. Shingo should be only facing guys like Tanahashi, Kota, Okada and Naito until he's fully established as the top guy at the moment. 

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If I didn't feel like White is practically a lock to win the G1 this year I'd be really excited about the idea of Shingo/Naito at the dome. Oh well.

When Ibushi was announced to be ill I was worried that EVIL would end up being his replacement and was relived when it was Tanahashi but then....Guess this will make the show shorter to watch cause I'm not watching that unless I hear it was awesome but EVIL doesn't seem to want to be a slapping meat guy these days so I don't have hopes.

But whatever Hiromu is back!!!!!!!

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There's only three NJPW wrestlers I fancy to drag EVIL to something worthwhile: Shingo Takagi, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. My Wrestler of the Year is between Roman Reigns and Shingo Takagi with an honourable mention to Tanahashi.

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Okada already tried to get what he could out of EVIL back in February. It wasn't much. Mind boggling they are running this at a Dome show.

Shingo has beaten Okada and Tanahashi in this reign so Naito and Ibushi are the biggest left.

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EVIL outside of tags and outside of LIJ fucking sucks. He's like Great O' Khan levels of lame to me now. This is like WWE booking Kane against a new-ish champion.

The other sad thing is that after EVIL turn, I have so little memory of his good matches before it. I know they were there. I watched him have really good matches, but now all I remember is what he's done post-turn.

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I think an Okada rematch, even this early in the reign, has legs. He lost to Shingo in a decision match so technically he isn't even a "defense" yet, just the guy Shingo beat to win the title in the first place. He's fresh off his win over Cobb, too.

I didn't even realize when I made my above post that this was a Dome show. Are they insane?? My Rikioh comparison feels even more apt now---recall how when he was champ and NOAH ran the Dome they stuck him in a midcard match against, weirdly enough, Tanahashi...who at the time (believe it or not) kind of sucked and wasn't over. But at least Misawa knew he had a crowd killer on his hands when he booked that for the midcard... imagine if he had put Rikioh and Tanahashi out there last...hell, Misawa vs Kawada couldn't even follow Kobashi vs Kensuke, imagine what Rikioh would have been up against if he'd main evented. That being said, Shingo is obviously a million times better and more exciting than Rikioh, and it's not like NJPW currently has dream matches like Kobashi/Sasaki and Misawa/Kawada they can pad this Dome card with. And yet...unless they're willing to drop EVIL as the challenger, I can't imagine putting this on last. What else could they do though? Okada vs Tanahashi for the first time in a long time? Could potentially bring the house down but then you're doing the same move I just described from NOAH where you're making your new champ look secondary compared to the old guard. They need to get some fresh main event matches going pronto, even of it means relying on outsiders for awhile until they can build up new stars. Ive mentioned this a bunch of times but Miyahara working the Dome against Okada (or even Naito or Tanahashi) would be a pretty epic spectacle.

Maybe they're planning on doing Heyman booking and having Kota shock everyone by coming out and challenging Shingo to an impromptu match after he dispatches EVIL? As much as I'm exhausted with Ibushi and hate screwy booking, it would probably be a bigger crowd pleaser than anything else they can whip together.

Edited by Belgian_Waffle
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All signs point to NJPW, and by extent Gedo, just not getting EVIL. I mean, what do I know. Dome attendance is hard capped so it may not even matter if the undercard is hot. I'm just a middle aged fan from America so what do I really know. EVIL finally beats Ishii after going 0-9 for years with help from Yujiro and he's a contender? I know Japanese fans tend to just go with the booking but that crowd didn't give a single fuck when he challenged Shingo.

I think @Belgian_Waffle's Rikio comparison doesn't do it justice. At least Rikio had beat Kobashi's epic reign clean. EVIL blows and I say this as a man whose wife gave him a Darkness Club t-shirt last year. Even Goto during this excellent Never 6 Man tag run has more credibility and no one is buying him as a contender.

Even using EVIL's NJ Cup run as justification is weak. Shingo beat him in the semi finals after EVIL had to cheat to beat Yano to get there. Why do I want to see this again? NJPW has a deep roster even without gaijin available. Hell, I'd have had Cobb roll up Okada and challenge Shingo again. That match was awesome at Wrestle Kingdom  and a rematch for the world title would benefit Cobb immensely even in defeat. A strong undercard would make it viable. EVIL is a Dojo guy so I get he gets chances other can never but this is a chance too many. 

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Remember when AJ won the belt from Okada? He had outside interference cost Okada the belt. But then like a month later the G1 happens, and AJ goes over established stars clean, then became legitimized because of it. He loses the belt back, but eventually gets it back the following year. What happened to booking like that? Why weren’t Jay White, and EVIL legitimized? Is New Japan thinking like the WWE in that they are trying to cut the legs off of burgeoning stars to kill their stock? This company is so weird now.

Edited by LoneWolf&Subs
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Jay was legitimized back during his first G1 with the wins over Tana and Okada to open it up.  

Pandemic-era NJPW is just not good outside of SZKG stuff.

I'd even take DOUKI over EVIL right now.

 

 

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I don't know how legitimate I consider any of White's wins to be. Even if he doesn't win via interference he spends large portions of most of his important matches begging off the face and doing campy heel stuff that undercuts the believability of all of his actual offense. Reminds me of DX-era Shawn a lot, bumping and running away from the Undertaker for 20 minutes before taking it home, although admittedly White works a lot harder than Shawn did in '97. 

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18 hours ago, Belgian_Waffle said:

Putting EVIL in there as a padding defense so early in Shingo's reign feels like when NOAH put the belt on Rikioh then fed him Akitoshi Saito. Shingo should be only facing guys like Tanahashi, Kota, Okada and Naito until he's fully established as the top guy at the moment. 

Considering that Shingo is the champ only because Ospreay got hurt and Ibushi got sick it is not clear if NJPW is interested in making him top guy at all. To me it is 50/50 that he is losing to Evil.

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10 hours ago, alstein said:

Jay was legitimized back during his first G1 with the wins over Tana and Okada to open it up.  

It’s like @Belgian_Wafflesaid, he still won them straight dirty. New Japan in the ‘10’s with top heel guys like AJ, Naito, and Omega were start heel, but then win clean almost immediately. Admittedly I didn’t watch Will Ospreay’s brief reign. Did they break the streak of dirty heels they had with White, and EVIL?

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Ospreay won all his matches clean. I think they trust Shingo to some degree here, given he made the NJ Cup Final before all the injuries and illnesses destroyed the main event scene. I think they are trusting him vs anyone can help all a card. They announced Okada vs Cobb II and Yano vs Owens for this show today so they must really believe in Shingo vs EVIL. 

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Well if they didn't trust him then I'm sure that he wouldn't be the champ now. My point is that he was not supposed to win it and it is unclear if NJPW will now run with him for good or he id just a filler till Ibushi recovers.

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5 hours ago, Archibald said:

Well if they didn't trust him then I'm sure that he wouldn't be the champ now. My point is that he was not supposed to win it and it is unclear if NJPW will now run with him for good or he id just a filler till Ibushi recovers.

These are very valid points I kind of sidestepped in my original thinking. What I would like to see is Shingo made the de facto top guy at this point regardless of how he got there and despite it not being the company's original intention. His carrying the company and having barnburner matches every show while everyone else was out is actually a way more compelling story of rising to the top than any slow ascendency of a handpicked guy. 

If, say, Okada, Omega and Naito had all gotten injured back in 2017 and they found themselves compelled to put the belt on Ishii as a temporary measure, we'd have had a fresher main event scene for however many months than what we got once Okada dropped the belt to Omega. 

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I think people are sleeping on just how well Shingo has been protected and pushed up the card since his debut (I posted about this back in April and you can now add 'loses title shot but gets another one > wins title > main events two dome shows' on the end of that list). The only time this dude loses is when he's about to get promoted.

Maybe when he comes in we're thinking he wouldn't get a shot because he's an outsider and the NEVER run seemed to slot him in the Ishii role but Shingo is bigger (by a bit), younger (by a chunk) and a better talker (by PLANETS) along with a similar level of ring performance. Looking at his push and the commitment to having new faces on top since the belt switch to IWGP WHC, I think he would have always been in the mix somewhere down the line. Though I agree the unlikely champ / carrying the company angle is a good one to make him stand out if they want to spin it that way.

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Show today was worth watching if you have enjoyed NJPW this year. The send off matches were what you'd expect. Tsuji-Naito was slightly better overall but I liked the finish to Uemura-Okada better. Uemura just not quite there yet, so close. Did it ever get confirmed exactly where they are going on excursion? I've heard both are going to Mexico but I don't follow lucha so I have no clue what the state of the scene is. I presume it'd be CMLL then. 

The two six man tags after are skippable. The LIJ-Bullet Club match did not convince me EVIL is a credible challenger.

The main event for the NEVER Openweight six man tag titles was excellent and if you watch nothing else from this show you should seek it out. It's long and if you hate the long NJPW main events then stay away. I thought they told a good story. LIJ issue a challenge afterwards. These belts have been elevated by the CHAOS run with them. 

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On 8/1/2021 at 2:58 PM, Spontaneous said:

The main event for the NEVER Openweight six man tag titles was excellent and if you watch nothing else from this show you should seek it out. It's long and if you hate the long NJPW main events then stay away. I thought they told a good story. LIJ issue a challenge afterwards. These belts have been elevated by the CHAOS run with them. 

I think you could make a case that their trios run was one of the better title reigns in general. But I feel like they might be losing them to LiJ now.

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