Tetsuya Naito vs Tomohiro Ishii
New Japan Cup 2016 Second Round Match
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 05/26/2016) Despite me being a big detractor of his (at least as a face), Naito has become one of the best guys in NJPW as of late, and Ishii is probably my favorite guy to watch in the fed, so this should be good. After some brief Tranquilo antics, the lads get right down to business with some quick offense, and Naito makes sure to get his Ingobernable shtick over the whole way through without being obnoxious, which is something I complained about a lot when he first took up the gimmick. This is kind of a weird matchup for me, though. My favorite Ishii performances tend to be when he’s working from underneath against a bigger/“better” opponent, and the same can be said with Naito, at least as a face. But with this match, heel Naito is on top most of the time, or it’s about 60/40 in his favor, and it feels sort of off, like neither man is really doing what they’re best at most of the time. When they just start to lead into constant action and nearfalls back and forth, though, it just sort of all melds together and it’s enjoyable, if sort of empty, and kind of sloppy more often than not. Thankfully, these two work very well together regardless of the circumstances. Naito bumps very well for Ishii’s big bombs, and Ishii’s selling makes Naito’s mostly ho hum offense stand out for me. This match is just a bunch of spots all in a row, lots of reversals and head drops and whatnot, and it’s totally unremarkable and emotionally vacant in the greater realm of things, but it’s just a ton of fun to watch. Ishii reverses a Destino into a gross Emerald Flowsion, and Naito’s face afterwards is magic. Wonderful reaction from him, real or otherwise. After some more spots, Naito reverses a brainbuster into a modified Destino, a neat little spot, for the win. Not a great match by any means, but certainly an enjoyable one and one I’d recommend if you’d like some popcorn puroresu.