Note: This is just a short post about NJPW at C3 CharaExpo 2016. I will post the results, plus my own personal experiences of what happened at the event. I believe in the importance of keeping a record, especially for pro wrestling.
C3 CharaExpo was back again in 2016 for a second edition, after last year’s very successful CharaExpo 2015. Of course, this means that New Japan Pro Wrestling was back again for a second consecutive year.
The roster for this year consists of Bushi, Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, David Finlay, Juice Robinson, Toru Yano, Yoshi-Hashi, Hirooki Goto, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Tomoaki Honma. Togi Makabe was supposed to come, but he had to pull out at the last minute due to health issues. He was replaced by Taguchi (a far better choice anyway).
Shinsuke Nakamura, as most fans should know by now, has already left NJPW for WWE in early 2016. Hiroshi Tanahashi is still recovering from a serious shoulder injury and did not make the trip.
For Day 1 at 11am, there was a short talkshow segment in the ring featuring Finlay, Robinson, Taguchi, and Honma. All of them except for Honma were in Singapore for the first time. Interestingly, Honma revealed that he had visited Singapore around 25 years ago as a high school student, and it was actually a lucky-draw prize trip that he had won. He is really looking forward to seeing the Merlion this time — back then 25 years ago it was still under construction.
After the talkshow, Okada came out briefly to make a very important annoucement: NJPW will be having another event at Singapore on 15 November 2016 at Marina Bay Sands. This is huge news: it will be the first time ever that NJPW is hosting a full-fledged wrestling event in Singapore, instead of piggybacking on one of Bushiroad’s anime conventions.
Following that at 12pm, there was a quick autograph signing session with Ryusuke Taguchi and Tomoaki Honma. Fans who purchased at least S$30 worth of goods would be eligible for the signing. I bought a Singapore-NJPW shirt, a Los Ingobernables de Japon shirt, and a Los Ingobernables cap. Honma applied quite a lot of oil to his body… some of which was transferred to my hands when I gave him a handshake. 😉
After the signing session, it was four hours of waiting until 4pm, when the matches for the day were scheduled to start. Plenty of fans from the Singapore Pro Wrestling Corner Facebook group were in attendance. Some wrestlers from Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW) were also there (The Statement, Mighty Mighty, Black Arrow, etc.), and I was seated right behind them next to the ramp.
– Bushi defeated David Finlay by pinfall after an MX from the turnbuckle.
If you’ve watched the recent Best of the Super Juniors 2016 tournament, then you’ve already seen this match before. Finlay and Bushi were opponents in Block A. Bushi used the exact same sequence to win again: a burst of poison mist to Finlay’s face, followed by his MX finisher from the turnbuckle.
It’s great to finally see Finlay evolve from his Young Lions status and carve out his own wrestling style. Hopefully he’ll get some sort of push in the future, he is the son of Dave Finlay after all.
– Team of Tetsuya Naito / EVIL defeated the team of Kazuchika Okada / Gedo. EVIL with the pinfall on Gedo after an STO.
Okada had just won back the IWGP Heavyweight title from Naito on 19 June 2016, ending Naito’s two-month reign. Of course, the two of them and their respective stables are still feuding. As expected, this was a very low-key tag match, with few risky manoeuvres or high-flying action from the usually very agile Naito. Perfectly understandable: G1 Climax is about to start soon, and NJPW can’t afford more injuries to their main roster. Sadly, EVIL didn’t carry his scythe or his Doctor Doom gauntlet to the ring.
– Team of Toru Yano / Yoshi-Hashi / Hirooki Goto defeated the team of Juice Robinson / Ryusuke Taguchi / Tomoaki Honma. Goto with the pinfall on Robinson after a GTR.
A fun six-man tag match with the entertaining Yano and Taguchi performing their usual antics in the ring. Again, another low-key match with not a lot of high risk moves. Honma made three diving headbutts, but none of them from the turnbuckle (his favourite finisher). Yano threw his chair at Honma outside of the ring. I lost count of how many hip attacks Taguchi made, and in the end Goto got the pinfall after his teammates helped to restrain Taguchi and Honma on the outside.
I went home immediately after the third match ended. Had a bad headache from carrying a heavy slingbag on my shoulder all day, and from wearing the Los cap that I bought. I’ll probably just leave my cap at home for Day 2 — at 30-years-old, I think my cranium has finally outgrown the practicalities of wearing unnecessary headgear.
Looking forward to Day 2 of C3 CharaExpo 2016.