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NJPW on AXS 6-5-15 report: Makabe and Tanahshi vs. Gallows and Anderson

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By Bryan Rose, WrestlingObserver.com

Last week, we saw Kota Ibushi retain the IWGP Junior heavyweight championship against Ricochet at the Dominion event at the Osaka Bodymaker Colosseum. But that’s not all we’ll be seeing from the big show! This week we have the NWA tag team championships on the line as champions Tencozy take on the Killer Elite Squad of Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr. The IWGP tag team championships are also on the like as Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows defend the titles against Togi Makabe and Hiroshi Tanahashi.

This event took place June 21, 2014 at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, or the Bodymaker Colosseum. It’s part 2 of our look at the Dominion event from last year.

First up we have the NWA tag team championships being defended as Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) defend against Killer Elite Squad. These two teams have faced each other a lot, especially in the last year. In fact, this match airing here tonight is good timing as they’ll be facing off again on a special Suzukigun event that will be airing Tuesday on New Japan World. This was a good match, everyone looked pretty great here. It kind of makes you wonder how WWE missed the boat on both Archer and Smith, but what can you do. Tenzan looked inconsistent, but that's what you get with him nowadays. Regardless, a fine tag team match, with Kojima pinning Smith after a lariat.

Togi Makabe is interviewed, looking back at his tag team match we’re about to see. He was asked why he represented the New Japan army. He says that lately it’s just been Chaos and the gaijin forces working against the New Japan army, so he wants to get the New Japan army it’s dignity back against the gaijins. When asked about his broken jaw suffered the previous month in a match against Goto and Shibata, Makabe sums it up simply by saying that’s just pro wrestling. He gives the mentality many share in Japan, that just because you're injured doesn’t mean you take time off or say you’ll try harder next time - you get back in the ring regardless of injury. When talking about his opponents, he says that they absorb a lot of punishment, and do everything good. They’re specialists, no doubt.

The IWGP tag team championship match followed. First off, a nice connection here by Ranallo as he points out that Hiroshi Tanahashi’s first match was against Togi Makabe in 1999. This was a good match, though I thought the NWA title match was a big better. I don’t mind the Gallows/Anderson team that much, but they’re the constant in a division that’s pretty lackluster in Japan. Each title in the promotion feels like there's lots of competition, but the heavyweight tag titles have Anderson and Gallows, then a revolving door of other teams, so it doesn’t seem as interesting as other divisions. Nothing wrong with this match, though, and the least few minutes were pretty fun. Story of the match was Makabe was out of it initially after the heels went after his jaw. He made a comeback, and towards the end he was fighting both of them off after Tanahashi was laid out with their Magic Killer finisher. Anderson blindsided him with a gun stun, however, and they laid him out with the Magic Killer for the win.

After brief words from Tanahashi and the Bullet Club post match, we go back to Makabe’s reflections. He says that he could have taken time off and not take this match, but he had to. Not because he was busy or anything, but because that’s just how he is. He talks about why he doesn't have a tandem move with Tanahashi and he says it’s because we trust each other enough to get the job done.

A solid episode this week. Both matches were pretty good, but not out of this world like we’ve seen on other episodes of this program. Next week, we’ll conclude our look at the Dominion show from last year.