Tetsuya Naito vs Michael Elgin
September 25, 2016
Kobe World Memorial Hall in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Another excellent Tetsuya Naito match, but he took a real pounding with some stiff clotheslines from Michael Elgin that looked anything but fun. Elgin is the classic 1990s foreigner in New Japan, and with his friendly face he’s an effective babyface that the crowd gets behind even though he’s an absolute monster. He’d have been the perfect opponent for Vader 25 years ago, and in 2016 he should’ve been given the spot Braun Strowman got in the Wyatt family.
Instead, he’ll have to settle for a long career in New Japan and ROH, making great money and having great matches like this. No Wyatt costume for him. Darn.
Seriously, this match was great and brutal in spots. It was marred by a stupid ref bump and outside interference from LIJ, and I have no idea why Gedo insists on these American type finishes that don’t get over in Japan. At least that nonsense didn’t lead to the finish, as they had a few great minutes after Elgin cleaned house, and it led to a clean pin where Naito won the IC title amidst some great heat at the end. These two worked so damn well together.