It is finally here! There is nothing like a live event from Tokyo to start your American Independence Day. I am really looking forward to Owens-Balor.
I do review these special shows a little differently. With most shows, I watch and write at the same time. With the “Beast in the East” special, I simply wanted to enjoy the show as a fan. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the special event.
WWE “Beast in the East”
We open with a quick video discussing the return of Brock Lesnar to Japan along with the highly anticipated NXT Championship match. With that we go to the Ryougoku Sumo Hall in Tokyo. It is a big crowd and the stage is certainly set up like the traditional live event feel expect it is televised. I really enjoy the fan with the fake beard to look like Kevin Owens. Michael Cole and Bryon Saxton are on commentary from the States. The show starts with the glowing jacket of Chris Jericho. He hasn’t appeared on any televised broadcast since last September.
Chris Jericho defeated Neville
This is the perfect opening match. Neville tries to keep the pace fast early on and Jericho tries to slow it down with holds and tosses. The pace changes when they fight on the ropes with Neville being the winner of the exchange. He tries to hit Red Arrow but misses. As he tries to recover, he goes into a Walls of Jericho. After some time, he escapes with the rope break.
As Jericho recovers on the outside, Neville hits him with an impressive leap through the ropes. Neville gets Jericho back in the ring and hits a dropkick followed by a standing Shooting Star Press for a close two count.
They go to the ropes and Jericho hits the Lionsault on Neville for his own two count. Neville recovers to attempt a springboard but runs into a Jericho Codebreaker for another two count. Neville and Jericho are back and forth when Neville gets in a series of kicks to set up Jericho for a Red Arrow. As he tries it, Jericho gets his knees up. Jericho quickly applies the Liontamer for the submission win. What a great opening match and I didn’t see that finisher coming. It is a great tribute to Japanese fans.
As Jericho celebrates with the fans, we cut to video of Brock entering the Sumo Hall. Where is Paul Heyman?
Nikki Bella defeated Paige and Tamina Snuka (WWE Divas Championship Triple Threat Match)
What a strange match this was. Tamina is double teamed out of the match by Paige and Nikki. They spent a few minutes working with each other until Tamina finally returns and suplexes them both from the top rope. They quickly eliminate Tamina again and get back to “their” match.
As Paige gets Nikki into a submission hold, Tamina breaks it up with a super kick to Paige’s face. Tamina hits a Samoan drop on Nikki. As Tamina goes for the Superfly Splash, Nikki rolls out of the way. Nikki hit an average looking forearm on Tamina. Apparently it was the most devastating forearm ever as it allows Nikki to retain. Weird finish.
We get a vignette for Lesnar. I pity poor Kofi Kingston. How did he draw the short straw tonight?
Brock Lesnar defeated Kofi Kingston
I have the over/under at about two minutes. It is sad to see Brock without Paul Heyman. I guess they didn’t want to pay for another flight.
Kofi, smartly, runs for his life as soon as the bell rings. They get back into the ring and Kofi tries a series of punches and kicks on Brock. It does little good. Kofi tries a dropkick but Brock no-sells pretty much all of Kofi’s offense.
Brock, getting bored, catches Kofi and hits a brutal looking suplex. Then he hits another. And another. Brock picks up the “body” of Kofi to hit an F-5 for the victory. It actually lasted about three minutes. I send my kudos to Kofi for not breaking his neck with all those suplexes.
Because Brock really hates Kofi, he decided to hit another German Suplex along with another F-5. The rest of New Day feels left out and tries to make the “save”. Lesnar stops both Xavier Woods and Big E and gives them an F-5 each for their efforts. Did we expect anything less?
We cut to a vignette with Finn Balor and Kevin Owens. I am a little surprised this isn’t going last, but I am very excited for this match.
Finn Balor makes a grand entrance in his Demon paint. I love the image on his back. He is a star for sure. Kevin Owens enters in less excited/cranky fashion. Hideo Itami is at ringside.
Owens and Balor are presented with a bouquet of flowers before the Championship match. Naturally, Owens throws them to the ground. What did the flowers ever do to you Kevin?
As Eden introduces the competitors in title match, the ring is filled with streamers. It is a neat visual we don’t see in the WWE too often. Ring of Honor, sure but not WWE. It creates a big match feel as Owens complains until the ring crew clears the ring of the streamers.
Finn Balor defeated Kevin Owens (NXT Championship Match)
I doubt anyone is surprised to see Owens leaving the ring shortly as the bell rings. But he seemed a little surprised to see Balor leap onto him soon thereafter. They are briefly back into the ring until Balor dropkicks Owens back out. As Owens tries to recover, Balor hits him with a dropkick into the barrier.
As they get back into the ring, Owens hit a slam and gains control. He slows down the pace and tosses Balor out of the ring on two occasions looking for the count out victory. When that doesn’t work, he goes back to the headlock. My favorite is when Owens look like he is going to do a big move, stops and simply goes into another headlock. What is his very audible response to the crowd? “Are you not impressed? I don’t care. I hate this stupid country and everyone in it.” I love Kevin Owens.
Owens tries to go full Cena and hits the Five Knuckle shuffle. As he goes for the AA, Balor counters with a foot stomp to Owens’ chest. Owens tries the AA again but gets a Pele Kick for his troubles. It is followed by an inverted DDT (or Bloody Sunday) for a close two count. Balor goes up for his finisher but Owens gets out of the way. Owens drops Balor on his head for his own two count.
Balor hits the Sling Blade and eventually drops Owens with a kick to the head. Balor goes back to the top rope and hits the Coup de Grace. It is over? No! It is another two count.
It is back and forth now as Owens hits a senton for a two count. As he attempts a move from the top ropes, Balor gets his knees up. He gets a near fall and after a kick Owens does as well.
Owens goes for his finisher but is stopped with a dropkick. Balor gets in another dropkick sending Owens into the corner. This allows Balor to hit the Coup de Grace again and we have a new champion! Wow, what an amazing twenty-minute match. It is a contender for the match of the year.
As Balor celebrates this impressive win, WWE Hall of Famer Tatsumi Fujinami comes to the ring to congratulate Finn. Finn offers his hand to Kevin Owens to celebrate their great match in the ultimate sign of sportsmanship. Naturally, Owens disses him and leaves.
We get a clip of Tatsumi Fujinami being honored by Hideo Itami and the Japanese fans on Friday night’s Tokyo show. I am glad the WWE has set up this whole show as a tribute to Japanese wrestling.
John Cena and Dolph Ziggler defeated King Barrett and Kane
This is a strange choice for the main event. I guess John Cena is legally required to end the show at a live event. He still sells a lot of merchandise judging by the fans in the audience.
The match was about twenty minutes but I could sum it up for you like this. The heels work well together. Ziggler gets beat up for a few minutes. He tags in Cena who one-ups him with a longer beating. But anything Cena can sell, Ziggler can sell better so he gets beat up by the heels for a while too. The faces get in little offense for a majority of the match.
Naturally Ziggler makes the hot tag and Cena clears house. He hits the usual Cena offense and an AA on Barrett for the win. It was that slow-paced tag match you see in every WWE live event.
Ziggler and Cena celebrate in standard live event fashion by high flying fans and posing for pictures. What a strange way to end this special. They cut away to an image of Finn Balor celebrating with the NXT title, thus reminding everyone how the show should have actually ended.
This was a wonderful show. For me it was a two-match show with the NXT title match being especially special. The rest of the card reminded me of a live event. It certainly felt unique having it in Japan.
I think the choice for the opener was smart. It is amazing Jericho doesn’t have to wrestle on a consistent basis but still can have strong matches with virtually anyone. Jericho and Neville have some strong chemistry. The ending was perfect. I hope we can see Jericho on the main roster more often.
The Divas Match was strange. Tamina spent most of the match lying on the ground while Paige and Nikki worked. The ending still seems bizarre. Nikki must have the most devastating forearm in the world.
That was pretty much what I expected out of the Brock match. Brock looks dominant and Kofi celebrates the fact he didn’t get seriously injured. So, you know, everyone is a winner.
The Owens-Balor match was one of the best matches of the year. The pageantry at the beginning created a special feel. Owens is the best heel in the WWE today and have quickly proven he is among the best workers in the company as well. It was obviously the perfect choice for Finn to win in front of the fans that love him most. If you see nothing else from this show, watch their amazing twenty-minute match.
I don’t understand the tag match being the “main event”. It was your standard tag match that you would get really at any live event. But it had John Cena so I guess I answered my own question.
Again it was a special night for Finn Balor. I hope this is the beginning of many more WWE Network exclusive shows like this. It was a fun experience. It was a fun way to the start the 4th of July.
Feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Additionally, I have my Twitter account @WWEBNRL as well. I would love to hear your thoughts on this unique show. Did you actually wake up earlier to watch it live?