NJPW/RPW Strong Style Evolved UK Night 1 (30/6/18) Review

Added by Joel Yentis

Picture Credit: @MrLARIATO

Well that was fun. 2800 like minded, New Japan fans went to the ice arena located in central Milton Keynes. Perfect venue, near plenty of hotels and right next to a train station. This really venue really did create a big feel event and, with all the production values, it felt very special.

Firstly, when you walked in there with some very friendly staff you saw an array of merch. It reminded me of a well organised 1PW Doncaster Dome feel from back in the day (2005… aka 13 years ago aka I am old). Just FYI – I got myself a New Japan zip up hoody XXL style… I like some room in my hood… Until I manage to fill it up by eating cakes.

The seats I purchased for £44 including booking fee were excellent. Great view of the ring. I was very near the great/dream commentary team of Mr Andy Boy Simmonz and the nicest man in all of broadcasting Kevin Kelly. When matches got quiet you could hear classic Kevin Kelly calls and I for one cannot wait to re watch this for the commentary…. And to spot myself in the crowd.

The first match was Shota Umino v a mystery opponent. Part of me was hoping for a Kurtis Chapman run in, but it was not to be. It was ‘Dominator’ Great O-Khan who looked like the random mode on a video game. He came out with a question mark on his face and I hoped Mario was going to come out and smash him in the face to reveal a giant mushroom. The match was really cool. O-Khan was getting cheered, but having really turned up the evilness on Red Shoes Jr it turned. The pacing was fun, the Mongolian chops were great to see. The finish came when O-Khan hit a devastating Mongolian chop off the top rope. Thoroughly enjoyed the match that really set a good tone.

Now, a bit of gossip that really has no ground for being declared as “news”. Behind me, peaking out the curtain was Gedo and he was watching the match. Does this mean anything? Probably not – he may just want to gage the crowd, but interesting nonetheless. I really think the guys booking New Japan take great interest in all young lion activities. Even those with a new gimmick perhaps?

Bullet Club out next were really able to help out. I work in Milton Keynes and next to my office is a “gentleman’s club”. Now, I have never been to such an establishment but it was always a riddle as to the type of lady they may obtain for such a role. I believe Yujiro was gracious enough to conclude my curiosity with two lovely bunny ladies showing smiles and various other features. That Tokyo Pimp clearly has contacts in every arena in every country. The Tokyo Pimp and Ishimori came out with these two ladies who remained ring side for the match. Aussie Open then came out to a great ovation. These two teams put in a really strong performance. I was with the wife and her feedback was, Yujiro not so good and Ishimore is very small. All very accurate observations. The match was fun and a decent New Japan style undercard.

Tiger Mask 4 v David Starr. I am a huge fan of David Starr, he is highly entertaining and carries himself like a true star (pun intended). He made some derogatory statements about Tiger Mask and, I found myself completely agreeing with Mr Starr. Tiger Mask came out with people singing along to “go go tiger” loudly. Full disclosure, I am not a fan of Tiger Mask. For me he is the 4th best Tiger Mask. The stipulation of “non title” did raise eye brows and I think gave me the idea that TM4 would win – solid match.

The theme of the tour felt like Suzuki Gun v Chaos and it really showed in the next match. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, El Desperado & Takashi Iizuka) defeated CHAOS (Jay White, Toru Yano & Gedo). It was a decent mach – full of crowd brawls (look out for me on New Japan World fam) and it was a proper multi man Suzuki Gun match. Authentic for sure. Iizuka kept trying to bite referee Chris Roberts which received great cheers from the crowd. Being the chivalrous gentleman that I am, I got myself in front of the ladies I was with and vowed to protect them from Iizuka. I was able to do this because he was well away at the other side of the ring. He did end up brawling near me which was horribly close. An Iron Claw finish for a classic undercard finish.

Just want to add how much I enjoyed Jay White in this Switch Blade character. He really is getting it, improving and should hopefully show everyone what he is made of this G1.

Now what a lot of people came to see, Walter against Blue Justice himself Yuji Nagata. This was a pretty good hard hitting match. They did lack chemistry and whilst the majority were happy, I felt a little disappointed. That disappointment only comes from the high standards both have set themselves elsewhere. Still, a strong match but for me a little underwhelming.

Next up Chris Brookes. A Huge ovation for Tiptons finest. He was being cheered until a baking tray landed on Yoshi Hashi’s face.I for one commend it. Now, I am a massive Chaos fan. They have the best heavy weight (Okada), the best gateway heavyweight (Ishii), the best Junior (Ospreay) etc etc. However, all that being said my least favourite is Yoshi Hashi. I have gone slightly mild on him since seeing him wrestle for Rev Pro a few years ago. Yes, his hair was gorgeous but times have changed, hair has thinned. What is Yoshi Hashi and what does he offer? Well he is in the G1 this year so he wasn’t going to lose this on something airing on New Japan World. Yoshi Hashi picked up the win and credit to Chris Brookes, he shone and should be headed to singles glory soon in Revolution Pro Wrestling.

Ospreay v Kanemaru is where business picked up.. I write clichés now – deal with it. Kanemaru is the most heel junior around. There is nothing to like about him. He was the perfect foil to the giant ovation for William. Singing of Ospreay’s coming home during the world cup season was phenomenal to be apart of. It was a great match capped off by an Ospreay storm breaker. Top quality all round and difficult to find fault.

And then the anticipated main event – Okada and Ishii v Suzuki and ZSJ. I was so excited for this match and it delivered in spades. Firstly, Okada has a bit of a new look, a new edge. To me, he has changed himself slightly. He is no longer the man now and he is focused. And what comes with a focused Okada? 3 red balloons. The other 96 went flying away. Ishii and Suzuki were all about dominating the spot light ahead of their singles match in Manchester the following day. The crowd silencing themselves for each strike. ZSJ tying Okada up at every possible turn. It was a great spectacle. Suzuki Gun retained in a great match. They finished the night Ichiban, until Manchester Minoru, until Manchester.

There seems to be a lot of negative noise around the show. For me, it was in a great, air conditioned venue with a strong line up of British Wrestling talent against a strong New Japan roster. We have been spoilt by Rev Pro York Hall shows in the last 4 years and this is clearly an experiment to gauge interest in New Japan rather than RPW. I feel like it worked and shows a real alternative for those who enjoy New Japan Pro Wrestling rather than Sports Entertainment (throwing shade much?!?) These shows are only the beginning. An excellent show – Andy Quildan take a bow son!