Michael Elgin vs Billy Gunn vs Bone Soldier vs Cheeseburger vs Jushin Liger vs Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask IV vs Manabu Nakanishi vs Ryusuke Taguchi vs Yoshitatsu vs Yuji Nagata vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Hiro Saito vs Scott Norton
New Japan Rumble
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 01/04/2017) It’s hilarious how small Gunn makes Elgin look in the opening moments of this match, like he’s a low-rent nobody. After those two, Bone Soldier is out next, looking like an even lower-rent nobody. He’s followed by Cheeseburger, who eliminates Bone Soldier, and Bone Soldier even manages to make his elimination super awkward, so good on ya mate. Before the next entrance, there’s a moment where Cheeseburger tries to buddy up with Gunn and gets booted in the gut for his troubles, and Gunn does a funny little spot with the man’s hair and the referee. Real professional wrasslin’ stuff. Liger is out next with “Ikari no Jushin”, getting the biggest pop of the night thus far, unsurprisingly. He teams up with old friend Cheeseburger to take on the heavyweights, but it doesn’t go well. The big dudes go at it then, and Gunn tells Elgin to “suck this” before missing a Fame-Ass-Er, and Elgin likewise tells him to “suck it” before sending him to the floor with a clothesline in a pretty eye roll-inducing spot. Kuniaki Kobayashi is out next, decked out in white t-shirt and track points, and it’s yet another reminder that the early 90’s were 87 million years ago. He and old rival Liger go at it with surprising speed and intensity, and the crowd appreciates the effort. After a fisherman buster, Kobayashi goes after the man’s mask as Tiger Mask IV makes his entrance. Kobayashi takes him down and goes after his mask as well, turning his attention back to Liger’s mask when he tries to get involved, and quickly thereafter TMIV traps him in a crucifix pin, with Liger and Cheeseburger holding him down for the three count and elimination. Fun, cute little legends sequence there with a pleasantly high amount of quality. Nakanishi is out next, and he steamrolls over the juniors before teeing off with the not-much-bigger-than-a-junior Elgin, though a double clothesline sends the both of them down as Taguchi joins the fray. The junior lads all pile in on Nakanishi, trying to pin him to no avail, and it’s only with the help of Elgin that they are able to eliminate the legend. As Yoshitatsu makes his entrance, Liger traps Taguchi in a surfboard, but TMIV sneaks in and pins Liger as he’s got the hold applied to eliminate him in a fun spot. Fittingly, the camera focuses on the ring throughout all of this, as no one cares about Yoshitatsu. Nothing much happens until Nagata comes out and catches Cheeseburger in his demon armbar, and when Yoshitatsu breaks it up, he gets TONS OF BOOS, probably the single biggest crowd reaction of his career. He and Nagata weakly trade strikes and do their thing as Tenzan makes his entrance, and when Nagata hits him with an exploder and eliminates him with the help of the juniors, the camera barely catches it. The fucking state of you, Yoshitatsu. As Tenzan makes his way to the ring, I think I catch site of my buddy Fumiaki Mizutani, but I could easily be mistaken. Tenzan does his thing with Nagata and then Taguchi, who hilariously does a Mongolian chop-style hip attack, complete with “SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS”. Hiro Saito is out next, looking like the oldest man in the world, and he and old nWo pal Tenzan team up to go after and eliminate Nagata. The human ox Scott Norton is the next dude out, and he flattens Taguchi with a powerbomb to eliminate him. Hilariously, Tenzan calls Cheeseburger over to join the nWo pals and team up against Elgin, and they are certainly a fun foursome. To his credit, Elgin does well against the Old Burgers, eliminating Saito with a clothesline and tossing Norton over the ropes and to the floor. As Tenzan and Cheeseburger valiantly stand up to Big Mike, the commentary team starts referring to them as TenCheese, which is just delightful. Elgin sends Tenzan to the floor with a clothesline and the crowd gets real behind their man Cheeseburger. Surviving a big elbow from Elgin, Cheeseburger gets a few good shots in himself before being sent home with the buckle bomb/Elgin Bomb combo. Fun stuff all in all, featuring a few guys I’m glad to see getting work and more than a little enjoyable comedy.