Only another three of these shows to go before we hit the finals. It’s the 7th of July 2017 and we’re in the Bowlers Exhibition Centre of Manchester, England, for the Japanese Qualifiers of WCPW’s pro-wrestling World Cup! Your main event tonight: Tomohiro Ishii vs Rampage! That is going to be a stiff one.
Dave Bradshaw welcomes us to the Centre with a very rabid sounding crowd. James Kennedy beside him on the announce desk, so hopefully we have seen the last of Ian Shane. Straight into the Tale of the Tape for our first contest.
Jushin Thunder Liger thinks the World Cup is a brilliant idea and hopes it will run-and-run. Ryusuke Taguchi says he’ll be giving the tournament his absolute all as he is representing Japan. Liger is looking forward to facing his opponent. Taguchi says he will win if he can deal with Liger’s holds. Liger isn’t sure of how far he will go. Taguchi has wrestling’s best ass, a statement backed up by footage of his hip-centric offence from New Japan. All nice and friendly.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs Ryusuke Taguchi (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Japanese Preliminary Semi-Final #1)
Big cheers when the announcer starts speaking Japanese, and an even bigger reception for Liger. Crowd big behind the legend, and I can’t imagine a guy like Taguchi, mostly known for comedy wrestling, is going to go far.
Lock-ups, and dueling shows of respect against the ropes. Chains, and Liger able to put Taguchi into a washboard, but then awkwardly countered into a roll-up. Crowd into it regardless. Big “Thunder Liger” chants. Taguchi with the takedown and focusing on the ankle. Transitioning into a sort of knee-focused backbreaker lock. Chains, and a break-up. Not super smooth between the two, but it’s OK. Liger with a knee-lock, transitions into a stretch as well, looks cool. Taguchi to the ropes.
Liger with a knockdown, and Taguchi gets some room and goes for a charge Liger bodydrops him out, and follows up with a somersault dive from the apron, to a big response. You still got it. After a few breaths back in, Taguchi set-up on the top and Liger delivers a sweet looking rana for two. Liger follows up with a powerbomb attempt but body-dropped instead, but then Liger dodges a butt drop. Liger then runs into a butt smash and takes a few more when against the ropes, followed by a kick to the head but only two. It’s basic enough offence from Taguchi but that’s all you need at this level really.
Taguchi calling for a big move Nakamura style, but walks into a Tilt-A-Whirl Backbreaker instead, then Liger locks on a Surfboard. Transitions into a pin for two. Powerbomb into a deep pin for two-and- 99/100ths. Liger going for a Brainbuster, Taguchi out, hits a low drop-kick, pinning predicament, and that’s actually it in around seven-and-a-half.
Winner: The best ass in wrestling
Verdict: Fine short match. Genuinely surprised they got Liger out just for this though.
Fans boo the result, which isn’t so good given Taguchi is meant to be a face. But handshakes make everyone happy.
Tale of the Tape time. Komatsu, better known as YOH, is up for this and is looking forward to trying out his moves on an opponent he respects. Takahashi, channeling LIJ philosophy big-time, plays up how little he cares, about the tournament and about Komatsu. At least he has a bit of a character.
Hiromu Takahashi vs Yohei Komatsu (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Japanese Preliminary Semi-Final #2)
Has to be Takahashi, right? This is just before Komatsu formed Roppingi 3K, and he gets a good reception. Dwarfed by Takahashi’s though, who comes out with a cat teddy bear but sans his recently lost IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title. Big “Takahasi” chants straight away.
Wrist-lock chains, and Takahashi on top. Bradshaw outlines that Takahasi is from LIJ, who are still outright heels at this point, and boy that feels like a million years ago. Komatsu rallies back with a rana, and no-sells a shoulder-charge, but the audience still chanting for Takahashi. Open-hand chop dueling for a while, and the crowd gives them a standing ovation. The chests do redden up considerably. Kamatsu gains the upper-hand, nice Irish Whip chain sequence and Kamatsu floors the Time Bomb with a flying fore-arm.
Kamatsu ties Takahasi up in a ball and gives him a slap to the face, followed by knee strikes to the head. Crowd starting to to rally behind him a little bit now. Takahashi dodges a corner charge and delivers a big chop, and then we get a chase on the outside. This ends in a really bad botched spot, an attempt at a tope-Sunset Flip, where Kamatsu falls and lands on Takahashi from the apron. Oof, it was bad, and we even get a “Didn’t get all of it” from Kennedy, drink. Takahashi takes over on the outside with strikes, then back in we go.
Another big chop sends Kamatsu down. Takahashi plays possum on a charge so Kamatsu gets nothing on a drop-kick, but then Kamatsu starts laying in the offence, running clothesline, forearm, slingblade, Shining Wizard, knees into the corner, but only two. Kamatsu looking for a pumphandle, but Takahashi out. Enziguri, Takahashi basically no-selling, but does sell a super-kick, then a release German Suplex. Kamatsu charges into the corner, but Takahshi with a sweet belly-to-belly to counter. Forgetting that botch already.
Kamatsu into a fireman’s carry but battles out, multiple roll-up attempts for two, then eats a super-kick, rallies back with another big clothesline. Suplex into a twisting neckbreaker, cool looking move that could be a finisher, but only gets two here. Takahasi counters another pumphandle with his own German, jumps straight back up and then gets a big clothesline for two. A little bit too much no-selling here. Doesn’t matter, Takahashi hits the Time Bomb to finish it in just under ten minutes.
Winner: Takahashi, who is such a villainous heel that he’s come right round the other side and become a crowd hero.
Verdict: One very bad botch, but a pretty good contest otherwise.
Takahashi retrieves his cat and celebrates in the ring. He faces Taguchi later.
Onto the next match. Tiger Mask is happy to meet you. BUSHI is here for LIJ. Tiger talks wistfully of a similar match he had in the UK twenty years ago. BUSHI is here because he has to be, doesn’t really care, will beat Tiger easily, tranquilo, etc. Tiger says that he will have to look out for BUSHI’s “cunning and sneaky” tactics. These two just faced each other in NJPW’s Best Of The Super Juniors, with BUSHI winning, so this is a re-match of sorts.
Tiger Mask IV vs BUSHI (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Japanese Preliminary Semi-Final #3)
Lots of love for LIJ from this crowd. BUSHI was apparently a NEVER Six-Man Tag Champ at the time, but those belts meant/mean so remarkably little.
BUSHI attacks from behind to start, and we go to the outside straight away. Gives Mask a chair shot to the gut and the ref is A-OK with that, much to Bradshaw’s annoyance, who has to cover on commentary. Back in, a choke, Tiger set-up on the top and BUSHI slips trying to go up after him, whoops. BUSHI trying to remove the mask, but this only gets a smattering of heat from the crowd. Back to the mat, BUSHI on a charge and eats a spinning kick to the face, nice move. Begs off to the outside, flinches out of the way of an aborted tope attempt.
Back in, step-up enziguri from BUSHI, then a swinging fishhook neckbreaker for two, then slaps on an STF. Nearly all BUSHI so far, as Mask gets the rope-break. BUSHI going after the mask again, but still not getting many boos for it: LIJ are just too popular. No-one home for BUSHI on a missile drop-kick from the second rope, and Mask rallying back with kicks, then a double-underhook into a sit-out powerbomb for two, very nice. Mask then lands a Tombstone, where BUSHI’s head seemed just a little bit too lOw to be completely safe, then nobody home off a flying headbutt. Both men down.
BUSHI with a double arm-lock, Mask out, and eats an overhead kick off a corner charge. Both men to the top, and Tiger hits a double-underhook suplex. 1, 2, and BUSHI catches the hand of the ref to a big reaction. Crowd bigger behind Tiger Mask now. Setting up another suplex, BUSHI counters into a backslide pin for two. Annoyed, BUSHI shoves the ref, who takes a break in the corner, and you know what’s coming. BUSHI goes for the mask again, low-blow, Lung-Blower from the top and that’s it in just over eight minutes.
Winner: LIJ, again. Some Suzuki-gun would have been nice.
Verdict: Was a little slow at times, but nothing too bad. Both guys were holding back it seemed.
BUSHI flees the ring to avoid Tiger Mask’s wrath, and we go quickly to the pre-match interviews for the next contest.
KUSHIDA is IWGP Junior-Heavyweight Champ and ROH TV Champ, but not defending either belt. Didn’t need to let us know that. Sho Tanaka is better know today as SHO, and is here to represent Japan. KUSHIDA shows off his belts. Sho has been practicing his MMA. KUSHIDA will focus on his “inside work”, which I assume means getting into Tanaka’s head. KUSHIDA won Best of the Super-Juniors this year, so the World Cup is the only way to best that. No offence to WCPW, but yeah, right.
KUSHIDA vs Sho Tanaka (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Japanese Preliminary Semi-Final #4)
We get a Japanese ref for this one, and he gets a big ovation from the crowd. KUSHIDA I love, and I hope that we get to see him doing more in NXT, even if the Time Splitters match turned out to just be a once-off. No offence to Sho, but there isn’t a hope they have KUSHIDA out here for a one-and-done. Crowd big behind him.
Test of strength to start, swift counters, trading head-locks and body-scissors and break. More high-paced counters, KUSHIDA gets in a Sunset Flip for two, then follows up with a big somersault heel kick to a loud reaction from the crowd. Tanaka to the outside, and KUSHIDA gives him a seated senton from the apron. Back in and KUSHIDA with a rest-hold armbar. Tanaka eventually powers up and out, hitting a cool-looking suplex.
Tanaka getting on top with strikes, chops and kicks. Fisherman’s Suplex for two, then silky transition into an armbar. KUSHIDA to the ropes after a minute. More kicks and chops, but now KUSHIDA back with an STO into the corner. One thing to note so far is that I have very little to say about the commentary team, which is how it should be. KUSHIDA firmly in control, nailing a handstand drop-kick to the face. Corner knee strike, to the second rope, Tornado DDT transitioned smoothly into a Kimura Lock, but Tanaka to the ropes. So quick and smooth from these two.
Tanaka slows KUSHIDA down with a sleeper over the ropes. Both men to the apron, exchanging strikes, Tanaka looking for a piledriver maybe, but KUSHIDA able to body-drop him into the ring. Tanak back at him with a drop-kick that sends him out, but quickly back in. Bit of a finicky section. Tanaka looking for a German, KUSHIDA out and goes for the Kimura again, gets it a bit more, but Tanaka counters into a sort of swinging gut buster for two. Sho looking for his finishing Package Piledriver but KUSHIDA out and now dueling strikes. KUSIDA well on top with a Pele Kick, goes for a handstand elbow but countered into a bridging German, but then that countered into a Kimura. Tanaka reaching for the ropes, KUSHIDA suddenly rolls through and nails the Back To The Future for the 1, 2, 3 in just under ten-and-a-half.
Winner: Earth to McFly
Verdict: Excellent back-and-forth between two good Junior-Heavyweights.
After a show of respect, he announcer says that “two will proceed to the final two matches”, and that’s a bit confusing.
Adam Blampied voiceover runs down the USA qualifier card which is the next show. No more drop-outs (as of yet). No filler matches here tonight, we’re finishing off the tournament then going to the main event.
Ryusuke Taguchi vs Hiromu Takahashi (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Japanese Preliminary Final #1)
Good hour left in this show with three matches, so these should all go a bit longer than expected. “This match is…a…qualifying match” says the ring announcer, and he might need a tea break. The Ticking Time Bomb of LIJ leaves his cat at the commentary desk again and away we go.
Takahashi with an immediate charge into a drop-kick, but Taguchi dodges. Bradshaw blames the crowd support for Takahashi on Taguchi beating Liger, and yeah right. Taguchi goes for a Sunset Flip, Takahashi counters by pulling down Taguchi’s tights, exposing his rear end. Time for some comedy, as Taguchi hits a literal butt sash, gets spanked on the ass, Stink Face and a few puns from commentary. This came out of nowhere, but thankfully only lasts for a minute or so.
A few beats as the match sort of resets, Taguchi trying to takedown Takahashi by the legs, but the Time Bomb to the outside for a powder taking. Back in at a count of eight. Taguchi maintains control with strikes, a transition from a Sunset Flip into an Ankle Lock, and then they basically repeat the Sunset Flip/tights pull-down spot, and they’re losing me big-time here: there is a time and place for comedy spots, and this really isn’t one of them. Ringside brawling, Taguchi sent into the barricade. Ref counting, then just stops, which is dumb.
Back in, Takahashi in control now with chops, slaps to the arse (ugh), then a drop-kick to the arse. Taguchi trying to rally back, but gets a knee to the arse for his trouble. Then another, this time from the second-rope. Let this end soon please. Taguchi with butt charges to multiple corners, then a Shining Wizard for two. Another Nakamura-taunt, dodges a drop-kick and puts in an Ankle-Lock. Taguchi dodges an enziguri and keeps it locked in, then into a pin for two. Bit better now. Charge, and Takahashi gets the belly-to-belly into the corner, looks really devastating and explosive.
Talahash going for the Tome Bomb, Taguchi out of it. Corner clothesline fro Takahashi, sets Taguchi up on the top, and I’m not sure if it’s intended or a botch, but whatever Takahashi tries they both end up crumpling to the mat really badly, and Taguchi just slaps on a sudden Ankle-Lock for a few seconds. Must have been a botch of some kind. Takahashi out of a double-underhook German, hits a German of his own, then walks into a double-underhook facebuster. Only two though. Going for the double-underhook German again, Takahashi tries a roll-up but countered into another Ankle-Lock, then transitions into a double-underhook backbreaker thing, looked interesting. Only two.
Taguchi gets Takahashi up into a Torture Rack position, Takahashi rolls-through into a pin, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just over 12.
Winner (and advancing to the Finals): The Time Bomb and slightly more serious wrestling.
Verdict: Stupid comedy wrestling ruined it. Rest of the match was only OK, and featured one bad-looking botch.
The Time Bomb celebrates with his cat while Taguchi remonstrates with the ref.
The Round of 16, Quarters and then final four of the tournament are advertised, all taking place within four days in August.
BUSHI vs KUSHIDA (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Japanese Preliminary Final #2)
Before this one, under “Achievements” BUSHI has listed “Member of LIJ”, which is pretty lazy. Kennedy has been “looking forward to this one…since we saw BUSHI earlier”. So for like, 20 minutes? These two have faced each one-on-one twelve times apparently, with six wins for KUSHIDA, five for BUSHI, and one draw. Oh New Japan.
Early advantage for BUSHI after using the ref as a shield, then some running-chains give both men the chance to show-off. KUSHIDA takes BUSHI down, standing moonsault for two. BUSHI uses a towel to choke KUSHIDA for a few seconds, ref just counts him, then follows-up with a snap DDT to KUSHIDA on the apron. To the outside, choking KUSHIDA with a cable, ref counts to five, BUSHI doesn’t relent, ref just counts again. It’s a bit silly to have ref’s do that with no consequences for wrestlers ignoring them.
Back in, BUSHI with a head scissors but KUSHIDA to the ropes. BUSHI to the second rope, one-legged missile drop-kick to the head. BUSHI maintaining the advantage, and after some strikes locks on a STF. KUSHIDA to the ropes, then to the second rope, BUSHI follows, exchanging strikes, KUSHIDA puts on an arm-lock and then drops BUSHI on his head, almost a Double Arm DDT. BUSHI lures KUSHIDA into a charge and goes for the overhead, KUSHIDA catches him and dumps him out.
KUSHIDA sets up a few chairs, puts BUSHI into one of them, and gives him a drop-kick. Ref totally happy with this, so I guess this is a no-DQ now. Back in, KUSHIDA goes for a punt, BUSHI dodges, KUSHIDA locks on an arm-bar, countered into a pin, both men up, stereo kicks and both men down, very nice sequence. Some chains, and BUSHI goes for the green mist but KUSHIDA ducks and the ref gets it instead. Then KUSHIDA lays out the ref unintentionally off a BUSHI dodge. BUSHI with a low-blow, small package but of course no ref, though the crowd counts to ten. KUSHIDA puts in a Hoverboard Lock, BUSHI tapping, but of course no ref. Back up eventually, and BUSHI hits a swinging neckbreaker.
Dueling forearms from a kneeling position. Both slowly back-up for more dueling strikes. Still no ref for some reason. Now dueling slaps, BUSHI screaming for a ref, and hits a Destroyer. Another cover, no ref, and the crowd counts to ten again. Not sure why BUSHI even bothered with no ref. BUSHI finally heads out and rolls the misted ref into the ring, then eats a Codebreaker. Punt, Hoverboard Lock, and after a little bit and a roll-through BUSHI taps out. This time a ref is present, and calls it in around 12.
Winner (and advancing to the Finals): Doc, Doc, What are you saying?
Verdict: Alright, had a few slow sections and the ref shenanigans didn’t really help it.
Big reception for KUSHIDA, who I would assume should be considered one of the favourites for the whole thing.
WCPW Extra ad, and time for the main event. There will be Strong Style.
Rampage vs Tomohiro Ishii
Headlocks to start, and straight into dueling shoulder charges. Nothing doing for either guy. “Big Lad Wrestling” chants. After a few charges, Ishii is the first to go down, then rallies back to floor Rampage on the next one. Big strikes from both guys, and Rampage with the advantage on an uppercut. To the outside, Rampage with a few short-arm clotheslines before Ishii drags him into the corner post. Into the crowd for some brawling.
Lots of chop/strike/forearm exchanges as they go through the crowd. “This is what pro-wrestling is all about” says Kennedy. Really? Back to ringside and more of the same. It gets a bit manic, but slipping into boring territory now. Back in, at a 19 count (Japanese ref). Ishii with the advantage, chops and strikes in the corner, dueling strikes in the middle of the ring, Rampage floors and Ishii starts walking on him. Back up, and a really stiff looking chop to the throat area is nasty looking. Ishii no-selling Rampage’s office, and nails a headbutt to send Rampage down again.
Some actual wrestling with Ishii hitting a reverse suplex for two. Big boot from Rampage on an Ishii charge, Scoop Slam, corner clothesline, then flying clothesline from the second rope, only two. More dueling forearms, and Rampage with the advantage now with a flooring short-arm clothesline. Chops, forearms, Ishii calling them on, running boots, Ishii still not budging, then sends Rampage reeling back with a forearm. More big strikes and charges puts the Stone Pitbull firmly in charge.
Ishii with a big suplex, Rampage straight back up, and hits his own, and Ishii straight back up. Ishii going for another, “Suplex the fuck out of him” says a very loud guy in the audience. Ishii eventually hits it. “This is awesome” chants. Ishii going for a running clothesline, Rampage absorbs two of them then hits a big uranage for two. Off another charge Rampage hits a Samoan Drop for two. More clotheslines, Ishii hits a headbutt, then a German, but Rampage straight back with a big clothesline. What did I say about Strong Style?
More big strikes and clotheslines, Ishii hits an enziguri somehow, then walks into a big Spinebuster for two. Rampage looking for a piledriver, Ishii trying to counter, and eventually the Pitbull does. Headbutt sends Rampage down again. Another running clothesline, Brainbuster, and that’s enough for the pin in just over 16 minutes.
Winner: Strong Style really.
Verdict: Big ass hoss fight, had its boring parts but what is pretty much what you would have expected. Ending was a bit lame.
Ishii heading straight to the back, as the feed has to be cut pretty much immediately.
Best Match: KUSHIDA and Tanaka was a good advertisement for that division of NJPW.
Best Wrestler: I might not always know what “it” is, but Takahashi has some of “it” anyway. I suppose you’d put it down as a sort of Nakamura-esque energy.
Worst Match: The Taguchi/Takahashi final was let-down by some dumb booking and one hideous botch.
Worst Wrestler: Taguchi isn’t all that, rear end or no rear end.
Overall Verdict: Honestly, I would have expected a little bit more from some of the NJPW guys, but they seemed locked pretty firmly into house show mode. Bang average show.
Quick Thoughts On Survivor Series 2020
Kick-Off Battle Royal – By the numbers affair, it helped that it was short. No stakes at all, very non-essential. What does this win do for Miz?
Men’s Survivor Series Match – Why does McMahon hate Smackdown? Sure the way they lost forwarded a couple of story-lines a bit, but at the cost of burying them. Did nothing for Raw storylines on the other side. Skippable.
New Day/Street Profits – Fun encounter, these two teams mesh really well. Great last five minutes. Give it a watch.
Zayn/Lashley – Heel/heel kind-off, and a nothing encounter really. Zayn is entertaining, but watching him be one-on-four is dumb. Miss.
Asuka/Banks – Decent from both, though they have had better. Banks did need the win more. Watchable.
Women’s Survivor Series Match – Alright match, totally ruined by its stupid ending. Brain dead booking, honestly. Avoid.
McIntyre/Reigns – Slow boil affair, with too many rest-holds and waiting around between spots. Not bad though, and there’s scope for another match down the line. Worth watching.
The Undertaker’s Farewell – If it is to be farewell, this was a decent presentation, though perhaps dragged out to too much of a degree. But I suppose if there is anyone in the business who deserves it, is the Undertaker. RIP Deadman. Perhaps.
Overall – A card with three matches worth watching, that did nothing to dispel the idea that Survivor Series’ status as the “brand warfare” show isn’t worth anything anymore.
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