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NJPW Tamashii Review (13/11/2022)

By Mick Robson

In perhaps the biggest example of 'better late than never"... Happy New Year, everyone! In my defence, this show (and its New Zealand counterpart) was only uploaded to NJPW World a couple of weeks ago. It's Wrestle Kingdom season and it's school holidays, so no better time to renew my subscription! Also, WWE Network's switch to Binge has been a massive, massive fail- I predicted it, and everyone was so excited when it was announced. Did no one see the teething pains that Peacock had to go through? And that was in WWE's primary market of the US. Australia is going to be a low priority for having a decent, complete WWE service on Binge, like the Network was.

All that to say, I've got time, and I need a new source of wrestling content, and it's the perfect time to watch New Japan. Also, also... it's the return of pro wrestling to Liberty Hall. Formerly known as Max Watts, this venue in Sydney played host to the explosion of Pro Wrestling Australia, leading to the WWE signings of talent like Grayson Waller (Matty Wahlberg) and Persia Pirotta (Steph De Lander). Also, the NJPW signing of Robbie Eagles. Also, it saw the rise of incredible homegrown talent that still call PWA home, such as Jessica Troy, Ricky South and The Velocities.

In addition, PWA are properly back as a promotion at Liberty Hall on Jan 27, and I am beyond pumped. Not the same promotion in this review today, but many PWA roster members are on this show, helping play a role in NJPW's expansion in Australia.

Let's do this!


Diego introduces the show, commentators are Andrew Rose & Kris Gale. The letters of the promotion might be different, the name of the venue might be different, but this still feels like home.

Match 1: Jordan Allen-Wright vs. Mat Diamond

The venue is much darker than I recall, I believe NJPW are lighting it in a slightly different way. Certainly is the case with the fans on the stage, who are bathed in red light. Rose gushes about the opportunity to call New Japan, saying that 16 year old him would lose his mind. Kris quips that if 16 year old Rose could see him now, he'd say "see a doctor." Love the banter! Allen-Wright is from the NZ Dojo, and Diamond of course is PWA and Newy Pro all the way. Jordan shows his wrestling acumen by grounding Diamond with some chain grappling, but Diamond speeds up the pace with a powerful dropkick and standing moonsault for a near fall. Jordan also kicks out of a split legged moonsault, then catches Diamond out of the air with a Boston Crab. He transitions to a Lion Tamer- and Diamond taps!

Winner: Jordan Allen-Wright (at 5:17)

Star Rating: **1/4. Was initially surprised at the short length of the match, but it's been a while since I've watched New Japan and forgot- their undercard is typically short and sweet, saving the more epic action for the main events. Good performance from both here though.

Match 2: SMS (Unsocial Jordan & Aaron Jake) vs. Jake Taylor & Richard Mulu

The Fale Dojo boys are massive, massive men. Mulu sends Jordan flying off a collar and elbow tie up, then sends him skyward with a big back drop! Aaron Jake tags in, and gets pummeled by Taylor and Mulu, until Jordan interferes with a hangman, allowing Aaron to drop the tall Taylor with a picture-perfect dropkick. Double front slam by SMS on Taylor gets a 2 count. Taylor reverses a double suplex attempt and suplexes them both! Tulu gets a hot tag and clears house, but a roll up with the feet on the ropes sees Jordan and SMS escape with the tainted victory!

Winners: SMS (at 6:22)

Star Rating: **1/2. I do love how SMS get so much heat for simply existing. Very funny to see a Sydney crowd so heavily against "their own" guys.

Match 3: Carter Deams vs. Robbie Eagles

With the right build, I'd buy this as a PWA main event. Please give these guys plenty of time! Carter's theme- Sheck Wes's "Mo Bamba" is muted here due to copyright reasons. Dammit NJPW World! Interestingly, Robbie Eagles' theme, "Afterglow" by In Heart's Wake, stays intact. Guess they have the rights for that one.

Deams charges with a boot, but Robbie dodges and lights him up with chops. They mock each other with Flair-style struts. Eagles builds momentum with a springboard arm drag, a snap rana and a spinning kick. Classic Eagles offense. Carter avoids the Ron Miller Special and the Turbo Backpack and lays the boots in. Eagles avoids an enziguri and hits the springboard dropkick to the knee. A 619 to the knee follows, then a Meteora in the corner, but the resulting stack pin only gets 2.

Robbie goes for the 450 but Carter avoids it. Deams scores with the End of Days and the scissors kick- two of his best weapons- but Robbie somehow kicks out! They battle on the ropes and Deams gets the better of it with a double stomp. Massive frog splash right after... but Robbie kicks out at 2.75! Eagles blocks another scissors kick attempt and hits the Turbo Backpack for a great near fall. Robbie sees the opening though, and goes right up top! 450 to the leg, Ron Miller Special... and Carter taps!

Winner: Robbie Eagles (at 9:25)

Star Rating: ***1/2. Bit more meat to this one than the previous matches, and it felt like Robbie and Carter were really finding a groove there, giving us a taste of what a higher stakes championship match could look like in the future. Carter has all the tools, and Robbie, well, is Robbie.

Match 4: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Jack Bonza & Kenta) vs. Speed Force (Jude London, Paris De Silva & Bossa Bones Rogers)

We start with a brawl between all six guys and eventually Rogers gets the ring to himself. London and Kenta get going in the ring once everyone finds their proper corners, and ooh, anticipation is high for this one! Kenta absorbs a few kicks before firing back hard, but falls victim to a handspring cutter by Jude. Paris tags in and we accelerate the action! A vicious Kenta kick halts that, and Fale is tagged in to steamroll everybody in sight. Fale stands on Paris' back (just... how?!?) and tags in Bonza.

Bonza chops Paris down and chokes him with his Bullet Club shirt. Massive "Bonza's a wanker" chants from the crowd. Bullet Club isolate Paris and take turns beating him down. Paris finally avoids a Fale elbow drop and makes the tag to Rogers. Rogers goes on the attack and knocks down Fale with a flying shoulder block! Huge leg drop follows for a near fall. Tags to Paris and Bonza. No lucha rules here since it's not officially a PWA show. Paris goes for a satellite DDT, but Bonza throws him off and decapitates him with a lariat. A sit down powerbomb follows for a nail-biting near fall. Jude breaks the pin up, bringing in Kenta who hits the GTS to a major pop! The OG. Bonza goes for the Blue Thunder Bomb on Paris, who turns it into a sunset flip, but Bonza counters out into the crossface... and De Silva taps!

Winners: Bullet Club (at 10:12)

Star Rating: ***1/2. White hot atmosphere, and while the NJPW stars didn't have to do a ton, they got great reactions for what they did do, while the PWA gang, who are very familar with each other, displayed their usual excellent chemistry. Bonza being the one to get the finish shows investment in him and his new role in Bullet Club. Nicely done.

Match 5: Lyrebird Luchi vs. Aaron Solo

Luchi seems hesitant to start, stalling and briefly leaving the ring, giving Rose and Gale the opportunity to let new viewers know what the Lyrebird is all about. They also take care to highlight the credentials of Solo, mentioning his appearances in AEW, NXT and ROH. Luchi eventually gets the upper hand with a cheap shot, and continually stomps Solo down while talking trash to the crowd. The Liberty Hall audience is behind Solo, but when he tries to rally, Luchi just yanks his hair and throws him to the mat.

Solo finally gets back to his feet and unloads a series of clotheslines. Cradle suplex gets a near fall. Luchi pokes Solo's eye behind the referee's back, allowing him to hit a spinning back fist and the Skull Crushing Finale- but Solo kicks out! Luchi locks in a dragon sleeper, which is reversed into a series of victory rolls. They pop up to their feet and Solo hits the Pedigree virtually out of nowhere to win!

Winner: Aaron Solo (at 8:13)

Star Rating: **3/4. A slower pace in this one, but once again, the crowd elevated it with their support of Solo. Credit to Luchi as well- his antics can make just about anyone seem likeable by comparison.

Match 6: Michael Richards & Andrew Villalobos vs. Caveman Ugg & Ricky South

Lot of chain wrestling to start between Villalobos and South- wristlocks, go-behinds, headlocks, front facelocks, the whole she-bang. Villalobos knocks South down with a shoulder block, stunning him. Tags on both sides to Richards and Ugg. Richards tries the shoulder block on Ugg, but no luck. A dropkick works, South tags back in and immediately takes an arm drag. Richards looking good! Scoop slam on Ricky gets him a 2 count.

Ugg tags in and starts clubbering away. Frying pan-esque chop on Richards. Villalobos in and both South and Ugg take shots at him- some of those shots a little underhanded too. Even though they've got some crowd support on this show, they are still working as heels currently. The tag is made to Richards. At one point all four men are in the ring illegally brawling, and as Ugg disposes of Villalobos with a stomp, Richards takes advantage and hits a monumental clothesline! Ugg pops up though and hits a Black Hole Slam for a near fall. Richards fights to his feet and hits a fisherman's neckbreaker- and it gets the 3! Holy shit, that's an upset!

Winners: Michael Richards & Andrew Villalobos (at 12:23)

Star Rating: ***1/2. I thought this would mostly be an Ugg/South showcase, but boy, was I wrong! The shock factor of that finish, combined with the sheer physicality all four men brought, makes this a bit of a hidden gem match on this card!

Main Event: Mick Moretti vs. Taiji Ishimori

The abs on both these guys are making me more determined to stick to my New Year's resolutions. Dueling chants for both Ishimori and Moretti to start. Collar and elbow to start, couple of arm wringers, and Moretti strikes with a quick crucifix pin for an early 2 count. More chain wrestling, but some Rapscallion tricks break it up with Mick's patented rope trip. Mick Togo lands for another 2 count. Tackle, drop down, leapfrog... and Moretti goes into the headstand! He turns it into a headscissors and Ishimori goes flying. A flying elbow strike by Moretti sends Ishimori out of the ring. Both men fake each other out on dives. Gamesmanship!

Moretti sends Ishimori out of the ring once again, and this time hits a tope suicida. They get back in the ring, but Ishimori gains control, first attacking the neck by twisting it with his legs, then attacking Moretti's legs! Brutal. Moretti eventually fights back and hits a low superkick for a near fall. Ishimori explodes back with a handspring kick. Ishimori hits a tombstone into a lungblower for a near fall. Moretti comes back with the fisherman driver... but that only gets 2! Moretti with the stomp... and another last second kick out! Moretti goes for a pumphandle slam, but Ishimori lands on his feet and applies the Bone Lock... and the Rapscallion taps!

Winner: Taiji Ishimori (at 11:17)

Star Rating: ***3/4. Another match that could have used more time. Moretti and Ishimori maximised their minutes and made it a very entertaining main event.

Overall Thoughts

A fun first foray in NJPW's Australia expansion. Since those Tamashii events happened, a 2023 tour in Wagga has been announced, so the demand certainly seems to be there. The crowd was very amped up, which added to the feel of the show. That's what's been missing at PWA Factory Theatre shows. It's a good venue, but really lacks that vibe. I especially felt that on the Die Hard show recently. A great crowd can boost a good show, while a bad/disengaged crowd brings a good show down. This felt like a solid foundation to build upon for future New Japan shows.

I wonder if NJPW were limited by running a Sunday show? The longest match was just over 12 minutes. Not that longer always means better (heh heh), but you generally need a lot of time to properly execute those banger matches. Hopefully I can get to the next run of shows when New Japan does Australia. A great way to whet the appetite before PWA- Stories From Liberty Hall on January 27th!

Overall Score: 8/10

Until next time, take care.


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Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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