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New Japan Invasion Attack

Dylan Waco

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C/Ped from Rob McCarron at the VOW board.


NJPW Invasion Attack 2015
April 5, 2015

1. IWGP Championship – AJ Styles vs Kota Ibushi

2. Kazuchika Okada vs Bad Luck Fale

3. Katsuyori Shibata & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano

4. Tetsuya Naito & Hirooki Goto & Togi Makabe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

5. IWGP Tag Team Championship – Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Michael Bennett & Matt Taven

6. IWGP Jr Championship – Kenny Omega vs. Mascara Dorada

7. IWGP Jr Tag Championship – Beretta & Rocky Romero vs. Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson

8. Tomoaki Honma & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall

9. Komatsu & Shelley & KUSHIDA & CNJ & Yuji Nagata vs. Sho Tanaka & Taguchi & Tiger Mash & Liger & Nakanishi

Some notable Road To matches…

3/21: Tenzan vs Kojima for NWA Title
3/21: RPG Vice vs Komatsu & Sho Tanaka

3/22: Liger vs Tiger Mask for NWA Jr Title
3/22: RPG Vice & Gedo vs Young Bucks & Omega

3/23: Komatsu & Sho & Dorada vs Young Bucks & Omega

3/26: Time Splitters vs Jay White & Komatsu

Only March 29, which features the most house show of house show cards, is scheduled for New Japan World. AJ Styles is on the whole tour, main eventing each night in tag matches. RPG Vice and Young Bucks are in for the whole tour, while Bennett & Taven appear only on Invasion Attack.




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My thoughts also copied from VOW (will add more later)


I said this on Twitter, but it seems like this show is being set up as a referendum to see how much value Styles and Ibushi have as top of the card guys. You can say what you want about the rest of the lineup from a quality and freshness perspective (and there is some stuff that I actually really like from that angle), but in terms of strong support matches for a main event involving relatively untested main event attractions this is remarkably weak. I haven’t bothered to look at CageMatch, but I can’t imagine there has been a weaker top-to-bottom card Sumo Hall show in a long, long time. Even more puzzling is the fact that they failed to use the show to payoff on logically built angles/stories they seem to have been developing (Yano/Tanahashi, Makabe/Ishii, Honma/Shibata, Kojima/Tenzan, Liger/TM IV and yes I know some of these are the smaller shows of the tour). In fact in terms of the stars are used, the logic of the match-ups, and even (to some degree) the nature of the main event, this show is eerily similar to Mania.

I think there is a strong argument they should have booked Nak v. Naito or something of that sort on the undercard, but one thing I will say is that coming out of this show we will know whether or not Ibushi is ready to be a top tier guy.

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Tenzan and Kojima have a pull apart and are just tagging up. Shibata and Honma do their cool odd couple stuff as a tag and arent tagging here on the big show. Even though Tanahashi vs. Yano and Fale vs. Okada are played out and boring, those factors along with Komatsu getting some serious offense on nagata had me hopeful. That card looks like a step back. I really don't know what will happen in the main event as it seems weird timing for either one of those guys to lose.

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I'm pretty pumped for Styles/Ibushi. A fresh matchup headlining a New Japan show? How novel!


Other than that though, the card seems kinda weak. Would've liked to see more big singles matches. Just because the winner of the Cup didn't challenge for them, doesn't mean that Nakamura and Ishii shouldn't defend their belts at this big show, right? I guess Gedo feels differently.


Nakamura, Ishii, Shibata, Naito, Goto, and Tanahashi all being in nothing tag matches seems like a waste to me.

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Its probably the weakest in a while on paper as Dylan suggested. Looking at Cagematch and excluding G1 shows, you probably have to go back to October 2012 to find a clearly weaker Sumo Hall card from New Japan.




Dark: Hiromu Takahashi & Kyosuke Mikami defeat King Fale & Takaaki Watanabe (8:47)... Killer Rabbit, KUSHIDA, Schwarz, Tiger Mask & Weiss defeat CHAOS (Gedo,Hideo Saito, Jado, Takashi Iizuka & Tomohiro Ishii) (7:53)... Yujiro Takahashi defeats Tomoaki Honma (8:22)... Lance Archer defeats Wataru Inoue (7:39)... Hirooki Goto & Tama Tonga defeat Shinsuke Nakamura & Ultimo Guerrero (11:03)... IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title: No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards &Rocky Romero) defeat Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi) © (13:29) - TITLE CHANGE !!!... Satoshi Kojima defeats Hiroyoshi Tenzan (10:08)... Yuji Nagatadefeats Toru Yano (12:08)... IWGP Intercontinental Title: Masato Tanaka defeats MVP © (12:30) - TITLE CHANGE !!!... Minoru Suzuki defeats Togi Makabe(13:14)... IWGP Heavyweight Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi © defeats Tetsuya Naito (29:19)...


Having said that, there is a lot on the Invasion Attack card that interests me. Yano/Sakuraba vs. Tanahashi/Shibata is much more appealing to me than Tanahashi/Yano. The singles match would have had the added benefit of being another singles blow off match but I am not sure it would have the bigger or more appealing match. Okada/Fale is three months in the making and an okay semi-main that would have been a very good third match from the top. The six-man fourth from the top is pretty stacked in terms of names. Can certainly question not doing Makabe/Ishii and Nakamura/Yoshi-Hashi vs. Goto/Naito, however. The rest is standard New Japan undercard fare. Not sure that undercard is noticeably different than any other recent Sumo Hall under cards. I don't know for certain but my gut also tells me that the undercard has very little impact on how well these shows do.


Like Dylan said, Styles/Ibushi is the key here in terms of drawing and the quality of the match will go a long way in determining whether the show is an artistic success. The crowd at the New Japan Cup finals certainly seemed to be excited for the match. Ibushi is the most obvious opponent for Styles in New Japan who he hasn't faced yet so I'd imagine there'd be some intrigue there.


New Japan has another big card at the end of April and another one a week later in May (the second being in Osaka). I didn't necessarily expect them to go all-in on this card because they almost never do anymore aside from the January Tokyo Dome card. WrestleMania this year seems so odd and underwhelming because WWE historically and currently builds to it as the major event of the year. Invasion Attack is just another "big" card on the New Japan calendar. I am not surprised they didn't roll out everything they have been building up on this card. They don't seem to do that much anymore. They have a depth problem and not much in the way of reinforcements on the way, so I think it makes sense given their current state to not load up on big matches on any one non-Dome show. They sort of need to spread it out. That's also why stuff like Okada/Fale feud and stuff like the Bullet Club taking all of the titles are necessary moves. The alternative is burning through all of their big matches in a short time frame which wouldn't be wise given the lack of depth up top. If they can slow things down and maintain acceptable results, it is probably in their best interest to do so.


My guess is the show will do in the 8,500 range they've been doing at Sumo Hall for non-G1 shows. Last five New Japan non-G1 shows have done 9,100; 8,500; 9,000; 8,200; and 9,000. That's about 8,800 average. I think they fall somewhere in that range which New Japan seems to be comfortable with. The match quality is more up in the air. There's lots of upside to Ibushi/Styles and the 2nd through 4th matches seem like a good bet to be solid or a little bit better. Everything else is kind of just there.

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Ibushi/Styles will (hopefully) be a great match, but Ibushi is definitely losing here. He's still building himself as a top guy, so it will be a little while yet before he wins the title. I don't see anyone other than Okada taking the belt from Styles, and the build to that starts in the semi main when he finally puts away Fale.


They're playing out a subtle, long term story about what the WrestleKingdom main event took out of both Tanahashi and Okada as neither has been same since. Tanahashi having to call in Shibata to help deal with Yano shows how low he is right now. And has Shibata faced Sakuraba since they separated?


And even if not everything they're building gets paid off at the very next PPV, is that such a bad thing? I'm ok with things simmering for a longer period.

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Also I don't think Ibushi or Styles should be losing at this point.

Ibushi should, and probably will, lose. There's no intrigue in his push if he just steamrolls over everyone.

I don't think he should be steamrolling either. I think he needed another big show or 2 of wins then challenge. He's lost to Nakumura where he got a big rub. He then beat Homna which isn't a big win. Then he got a nice run for the Cup. I would have liked a little bit more of a build with him. Now he's in a position where he's going to be counted to draw at Sumo.

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Yeah, I think people are misconstruing what me and Shoe are trying to state. I fully expect Ibushi to lose but he shouldn't be put in a main event this early as Shoe laid out above based on what he has acomplished. However, this shows the problem with not developing upper stars by New Japan. I know Rich and Joe many times have talked about the number of "buttons" New Japan can push for the top guys to perform but lets dissect the upper level talent currently.


Tanahashi and Okada - They do seem to be doing their down phasing situation. I don't know if they are setting up something where they face off again at WK again with one of these two beating Styles at King of Pro Wrestling but they are certainly having them meddle down the card a bit with lower talent. This wouldn't be a bad concept if others were prepared to fill that void.

Naito - Could challenge for the IC belt I guess. Also might be a contender for Styles at some point but he did just lose to him at the Dome.

Makabe - Don't really think he would be much more than poor contender for either the IC or IWGP at this stage

Ibushi - Rematch with Nakamura needs to happen at some point down the line with a big win, until then I wouldn't keep him losing big matches like he is persuable doing at Invasion Attack

Shibata - Feels like the ship has sailed on him getting a big run based on the politics involved.

Goto - Not a bad challenger but he has blown so many chances before, do you want to risk doing that again. And if he does somehow win, what then?

Ishii - Seems to be stuck in the NEVER picture for the foreseeable future.

Kojima/Tenzan - Wouldn't be bad to throw out on a low level show but no way in hell they are winning the IWGP at this stage. IC would be less of an upset but still a damn surprising result


My point is that it does feel like a long game is being played with the booking but I am worried about the bridge getting there if the end result is WK next year. We still have numerous PPV's and big shows to go with not a lot of compelling matchups as I laid out above. The IC situation actually may be worse off than the IWGP as we are now two months in of Nakamura not doing anything and this follows a token defense of Nagata which is fine for one of the lower shows of the year but wasn't much of a match or defense overall.

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My point is that it does feel like a long game is being played with the booking but I am worried about the bridge getting there if the end result is WK next year. We still have numerous PPV's and big shows to go with not a lot of compelling matchups as I laid out above. The IC situation actually may be worse off than the IWGP as we are now two months in of Nakamura not doing anything and this follows a token defense of Nagata which is fine for one of the lower shows of the year but wasn't much of a match or defense overall.


Agreed that the IC situation is a bit of a mystery right now. An IC title match will almost certainly headline either the late April show or the 5/3 show. Maybe one of Naito, Goto or Makabe pins Nakamura in the six-man at Invasion Attack to set up a title match? That seems like a strong possibility but none of those matches are terribly intriguing. There is not an obvious opponent for Nakamura now. Best realistic match up at this point would seem to be Shibata but that looks like a July show match at best. Its hard to see them getting there for the May show.


To be fair, after Invasion Attack there are only 2-3 majors shows before the G1. Not sure how big of a show the 4/29 Kumamoto event will be. There is just Dontaku (Fukuoka) on 5/3 and Dominion (Osaka) on 7/5 with the ROH tour and BOSJ's in between. So we are really talking about one or two IC title defenses tops between now and then. If they do something like Naito and Shibata, I don't think that's terrible. My guess is Nakamura holds the IC title all year and defends against either Ibushi (in a re-match), Styles (in a first time match), or Okada at the Dome. IWGP title is similar in that after Invasion Attack, they only need 1 or 2 defenses to get to the G1. That one is also tricky because you have to figure none of Tanahashi, Okada, and Nakamura are options for a spring/early summer Styles title defense. Like with the IC title, it really comes down to Shibata and less appealing options like Goto and Makabe.


They could really use at least one more upper mid-level wrestler which is why Joe would have been a great get.

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As I'm only a casual NJ viewer right now and don't know all of their booking ins and outs: what are these politics that are keeping Shibata from main events? Do people resent him for being out of the business for so long, or do they just not see him as a star on that level?

The perception is that he left to do MMA when times got hard and came back when business started recovering. He was supposed to be one of the "New Three Musketeers" with Nakamura and Tanahashi, so there seems to be a lot of resentment there.

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And even if not everything they're building gets paid off at the very next PPV, is that such a bad thing? I'm ok with things simmering for a longer period.


The issue isn't so much that all of them didn't conclude (or even continue in most cases) at Invasion Attack - it's that not a single one of them did. That would be one thing if the rest of the card was featuring matches involving marquee names that had real value to them, but the consensus seems to be that this card really lacks that.


There are things they are doing that I think are interesting and smart uses of talent (steady integration of Young Lions into "regular" matches, Honma feuding with the Bullet Club B-Team, et.), but not really at the upper mid-card, or top of the card level.

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Fair enough, but you are getting the end of Okada/Fale, should get another step in Tanahashi/Yano, Dorada finally gets his title shot, and either Naito or Goto could be positioned to be an IC challenger. I'll withhold judgment on the show until it happens. NJPW keeps delivering entertaining shows, so I give them leeway.

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They could really use at least one more upper mid-level wrestler which is why Joe would have been a great get.

Joe has been an out and out failure in Japan. Was NJPW really going to bring him in ?



Not sure where you are getting the "out and out failure" idea from. Here is the entirety of his work in Japan:


* 30 matches for ZERO1 form 2001 - 2003, all of which occurred before Joe developed into the worker he would later becomes. He was used on the under card which was probably appropriate placement for him at that point in his career;

* 2 random matches in NOAH from 2007 including a title shot against Misawa. NOAH was grasping at straws at this point as they didn't have anyone but Misawa who could draw on top. So in order to get through a 450 day Misawa title reign, they seemingly thought that giving Joe a random title match with no build was a good idea;

* A pair of 2012 NOAH tags as part of the NOAH/TNA working agreement; and

* A pair of 2014 Wrestle-1 matches as part of the Wrestle-1/TNA relationship.


That's it. That's not the resume of a wrestler who failed in Japan. That's a resume of a wrestler who never had much of a chance in Japan. There was (is?) a stigma attached to guy's in Japan who worked indies or lower level promotions (like ZERO1) which certainly might have attributed to the lack of interest in Joe in Japan during his ROH run. The fact that he wasn't over there more during his TNA run probably has a lot more to do with the fact that he was tied up working TNA than anything else. I am sure there were Japan promotions that would have been interested in Styles but he worked Japan just as infrequently as Joe did during his stay in TNA. I am not seeing where the "failure" part comes in. To me, it looks more like Joe is a wrestler who never got a real chance in Japan for whatever reasons. Post-Joe turning into an upper tier worker, he had a total of 6 matches in Japan spread out over seven years. That's way too small of a sample to draw "failure" from.


In any event, the 3/2 edition of the Observer reported that there was interest from New Japan so all that's moot anyway.




Joe has also had an offer, or at least confirmed opening interest and conversation, from Lucha Underground, from AAA, and an apparently solid offer from New Japan, which may be New Japan using him outright, although we’ve been told more likely sending him to bolster NOAH at first and eventually move over.
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The 4/5 Sumo Hall show is mostly sold. There are tickets left in the two least expensive categories ($37 and $45) but the good seats, going from $53 to $127, are all sold out.



If they even come within 1,500 of selling out Sumo Hall at its max capacity (11,500), that would be noteworthy. If Cagematch and the Internet Wrestling Database are to be trusted, New Japan has not sold out a non-G1 finals show at Sumo Hall since 1996! There are quite a few 11,000 attendance numbers listed there which is a near sell out, but even then you have to go back to 2012 with Sumo Hall 40th anniversary show (joint AJPW/NJPW show) for the last time they broke 10,000 in Sumo Hall. The last New Japan only show to break 10K was October 2009 for Chono's 25th anniversary show. So selling out or even breaking 10,000 would mean something.


The thing is, I think Meltzer just looks at the ticket listings himself (or someone else does and reports back to him) and is getting the near sold out from here. I think he probably just looks at this: http://www.njpw.co.jp/match/ticket.php?e=00956. The problem is there is no way of knowing if 1,000 of the cheaper tickets are left or if 3,000 are left. I'd take Meltzer saying they are "nearly sold out" with a grain of salt for that reason.

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Yeah, it seems pretty dubious to me that this of all shows would be a near sellout. At the very least it seems like it should draw a solid gate though, which bodes well for them rotating some different guys into the main event scene going forward and relying on the big three less.


This is also noteworthy:




It now appears they are spreading out the big matches during the tours, as opposed to doing a monthly loaded PPV show, which would often shortchange some big matches on time.


Explains why the two NWA title matches are on Road to... shows. It makes sense that if they can draw with a big main event and not much underneath then they should use smaller title matches to prop up other shows on the tour. I do wonder if that might be a long term bad move though, in terms of eroding the baseline expectation of the quality of a big NJPW show.

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Joe had a chance. It was a title match with Misawa. The one thing he could do was put on a performance. He failed.


NJPW wanting him for NOAH makes more sense. Thanks for the information.


Joe's title shot against Misawa *was* a failure. But it is at most 50% on Joe, but probably a lot less.


Joe and Kobashi tear the roof off in NYC in October 2005. NOAH has the chance right then and there to book him as a regular or semi-regular. He would have instantly been their best gajin heavyweight, maybe best gajin overall.


What happens?


They don't do anything, bring him in for two matches (not even one tour), against a completely broken down Misawa who is only holding the belt because Kenta and Marifuji can't draw and Morishima wasn't (and never would be) ready. Misawa's last even good performance before that match? Maybe the 9/10/04 Double Agents tag? Certainly wasn't the Kawada Dome match.


The fans had no reason to get up for a Joe vs. Misawa match. Misawa obviously couldn't or wouldn't do much. Don't see how that is all on Joe.


But Joe is a failure because of one bad match with a broken down Misawa?


Small Sample Size.

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In Japan, at the time? Yes.


There are a lot of cicumstances surrounding that match, but the one part Joe had control over.. he failed at. Unless the goal was to be not big in japan.


Even outside of mechanics. Take away Misawa. Who was that in that match? I still find it jarring.


There wasn't a lot of interest in him in Japan before that. Certainly not in NJPW, but maybe that was Z1 stuff.. ? It has been a while, and it's wrestling, so never say never. But doors can be closed by performances like that.

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