I'm not really sure where the itch to watch all this stuff came from, but I grabbed some stuff that interested me (like I was really gonna watch the entire tournament) and tried to get up to speed with some New Japan. I mean, everybody else is watching it, so if you can't beat 'em...
Tomohiro Ishii v Tomoaki Honma (7/26)
This might be my first Ishii match. I honestly don't know for sure. I mean, it's probably not, because I used to actually follow New Japan, but it's my first since he became someone who was having matches that people on the internet were raving about (when did that start happening, btw?). I haven't seen Honma in like ten years. He's not as hideously scarred as I figured he'd be considering how much of a lunatic he used to be with the blade. Ishii feels like 2015's answer to WAR; a stocky little bruiser that'll hit like a minivan and take as good as he gives. This had a couple strike exchanges that I guess I could've done without, but at least they wallop each other good and proper. One of them was also stopped dead by Ishii throwing a coconut headbutt, so you know, I'll get behind that if guys are gonna do it. Ishii had a couple incredible bits of selling here. He takes a DDT right on the top of his head and sells it like his whole spine just got crushed, then later he takes a massive German suplex and clutches his neck like he's trying to screw his head back on. Finishing run is short, everything looked lethal and every strike was stiff as a bastard. Really good match, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of both guys.
AJ Styles v Tetsuya Naito (7/26)
I had no idea AJ won the IWGP title. That's pretty cool. I haven't really given a shit about anything he's done in years and years, but I thought he was a pretty first class redneck asshole here. Naito comes into the match with tape above his eye, so AJ spends most of the first half working the cut and shit talking people. Ref' admonishes him for removing the tape and elbowing Naito in the eye. Styles: "What about his face? I'm supposed to hit him in the face! *points at elbow pad* Is that illegal? It's not illegal, right." Then he elbows him in the eye again. At one point Naito hangs over the bottom rope and the doctor tries to check the cut, so AJ tells him to "sit down and shut the hell up." Is Naito a heavyweight now? Last time I saw him I'm pretty sure he was a junior (though we're talking '08 or so. Fuck, that was ages ago). His bumping was really good here, especially his crazy backflip bump off an AJ dropkick, but his offence still felt kind of juniory. Like, in terms of juniors that've made the step up to heavyweight he wasn't even in the same ballpark here as Ibushi was against Nakamura from this year's Dome show, and I'm not exactly an Ibushi fan either (that match did make me want to see some more of him, though). I thought his fatigued/blood loss selling in the first half was good, but his comeback seemed a bit easily came by. Still, that was better than it would've been if he'd just blown off a bunch of limb work, so you take the good with the not so good. I'm neither here nor there on Naito, but Styles impressed me a lot and I'm really looking forward to the Suzuki match now.