New Japan Pro Wrestling
KIZUNA ROAD 2019
Sendai Sunplaza Hall
No English Commentary available when I am watching this on NJPW World.
YUJI NAGATA & YOTA TSUJI
Tsuji gets right in Koji’s grill at the start and then jumps Koji before the bell, with Nagata spilling Tenzan to outside for the double team opportunity on Koji. Double tackle drops Koji, but Koji turns it around with DDTs on both Tsuji and Nagata. Tag to Tenzan, double team with Tenzan getting Mongolian chops and Koji getting chops of his own to put Tsuji down. Falling headbutt/over the top elbow drop combo connnects, cover by Tenzan but only 2. Rolling wheel kick by Tenzan drops Tsuji for 2, and Tenzan starts choking Tsuji. Both teams not afraid of heel tactics. Tag to Koji and they wishbone Tsuji who fires back but gets dropped by Koji, who drops Nagata as well. Machinegun chops lay into Tsuji, corner elbow connects and Koji climbs and hits the diving elbow, covere but Nagata breaks it up. The elbow pad of Koji goes flying, but Tsuji ducks the lariat and hits a running dropkick. Tag to Nagata who boots Koji and Tenzan, then lays kicks into Koji. Corner boot and exploder suplex connect but Nagata only gets 2. Koji reverses a suplex and they trade shots, rolling elbow by Koji, dropkick to the knee by Nagata but Koji comes back with a Koji Cutter. Tag to Tenzan who hits Mongolian chops on Nagata, corner lariat and the “brainbuster” vertical suplex land but Tenzan only gets 2. Shots traded but Nagata is able to snatch the arm for the Fujiwara, but Koji cuts it off, which just pisses off Nagata who kicks him down. Tag to Tsuji and they double team Tenzan, big slam by Tsuji and a cover but only 2. Tsuji looks for the Boston Crab and turns Tenzan over, but Tenzan powers Tsuji off. Shots by Tsuji are followed by a HUGE spear, cover but Koji breaks it up. Tsuji is fighting Ten-Koji off alone but they catch him off the ropes with a Ten-Koji Cutter. Cover, but Nagata breaks it at 2. Koji dumps Nagata as Tenzan applies the Anaconda Vice and Tsuji taps.
Ten-Koji defeats Yuji Nagata & Yota Tsuji by submission via Anaconda Vice
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
This was a solid and good way to open the show, with the returning Tenzan gaining more momentum and the reunion of Ten-Koji who looked strong as a team, which might come into play in the tag title picture soon. (I’d like to see some younger hot teams emerge, but given the state of the division, I’ll take some Ten-Koji right now.) Tsuji brought some good fire with the Dads, Nagata still looks FIERCE and Koji is still solid as a fucking rock, and Tenzan is looking good post-bench.
KOTA IBUSHI, GREAT BASH HEEL, REN NARITA & SHOTA UMINO
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON
The story to watch here will continue to be EVIL and his distancing of himself from LIJ in advance of the G1 Climax. Naito calls for the salute, and again EVIL refuses it. Umino jumps right after Naito at the bell, Naito fires right back, Umino gets a corner elbow and a running elbow to put Naito down. Naito spits in Umino’s face, hiptoss and dropkick to the back sends Umino outside, Naito teases the dive but does Tranquilo instead. Umino is right back in though with a low dropkick! Naito bails and Umino spits at him. Nice sequence. Tag to BUSHI, tag to Honma, Honma drops BUSHI with a tackle and works him over. Slam by Honma but the falling Kokeshi misses and LIJ uses that moment to strike, taking Ibushi’s team to the outside and into the crowd (and with Naito BRUTALIZING Umino in the crowd seating). Tag to Shingo who keeps on Honma, absorbing chops and dropping Honma with one of his own. Tag to EVIL who keeps the pressure on, Naito in with Combinacion Cabron and EVIL followss with the running bronco buster, cover but only 2. Tag to SANADA, Honma fights back but SANADA keeps him down. Honma escapes the TKO and hits a flying Kokeshi, and tags in Togi!
Togi runs wild, Shingo in and they collide with lariats, Shingo drops Togi down but then gets cut down by Togi. 10-Punch on SANADA, Northern Lights follows but only gets 2. SANADA blocks a German and looks for the Paradise Lock, Togi powers out and evades a SANADA dive but eats a dropkick instead. Tag to Ibushi, tag to EVIL, flurry by Ibushi and he hits a big chest kick. EVIL evades the standing moonsault but misses the senton, Ibushi gets a running shooting star and covers for 2. EVIL blocks a German, they trade waistlocks, EVIL with a big misdirection lariat turns Ibushi inside out. Tag to Shingo but Ibushi gets a double Pele and tags in Narita who comes at Shingo hot and gets him over in a suplex! The faces now triple team Shingo, Narita with a nice release throw and a cover but only 2. Narita looks for the Gable grip, Naito breaks it up, BUSHI in and sets Narita up for a Naito basement dropkick. Umino in to take down Naito, BUSHI intercepts Umino but eats a dropkick. Shingo runs through Umino and then Narita, looks for Noshigami but Narita turns it into a backslide for 2. Shots traded, SLAPS by Narita but Shingo looks for Noshigami again, Narita reverses again into a rollup for a NICE 2, but EATS Pumping Bomber. Cover, but only 2! Noshigami by Shingo follows, cover and thats the 3.
LIJ defeats Ren Narita, Kota Ibushi, GBH & Shota Umino by pinfall via Noshigami
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a dang good 10-man tag, which LIJ excels at in general. Honma and Makabe were noticeably the slower links here but were fine, Umino’s head to head with Naito was great but it was the closing stretch between Narita and Shingo that really stuck the landing for this one. Umino’s great, but Narita is starting to pull firmly to the head of the pack with performances like this.
After the match, Naito keeps brutalizing Umino. Honma tries a rescue but gets taken down in the crowd as well. Ibushi then gets in Naito’s face to break it up, then walks to the ring and goes head to head with EVIL on the apron. Naito comes up behind Ibushi, and then Shingo faces him in the ring and Ibushi begs off the numbers game for a moment before getting into the ring annd getting right in the middle of LIJ before leaving, with Naito kicking at him on the way out. THIS RIVALRY. This is what legendary rivalries are made of. We’re seeing it happen. Naito then grabs the refs arm and works him over while LIJ beats up a Young Boy. Honma again tries to help but barely does. The salute is called for again, EVIL hesitates, and then leaves on his own once again.
JUICE ROBINSON & MIKEY NICHOLLS
GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY
GoD attacks before the bell and the action spills to the outside and deep into the crowd. Not sure why. It doesnt feel particularly motivated by anything, and so the crowd… maybe sort of cares? Juice gets whipped hard into the barricade by Loa. The ref finally starts counting people out as everyone makes their way back toward the ring. GoD rolls in at 18, Juice and Mikey back in and they all trade. (The ref sort of stopped counting early for Juice and Mikey to make it back inside… a bit sloppy.) Double clotheslines drop GoD. The crowd gets behind Juice and Mikey who trade corner to corner clotheslines, cannonball by Juice on Tama and Big Ending by Mikey on Loa, who then eats a senton/fist drop combo. Tama comes back with a Tongan Twist on Mikey, Loa drive Juice into the corner and Tama hits a Stinger Splash, then the same combo on Mikey before Juice gets dropped with a combo into a neckbreaker. Cover by Loa but only 2.
Tag to Tama who hits an elbow atomico, tag to Loa who gets a tope atomico, cover but only 2. Juice fires back but Loa stuns him and Tama gets a shot in, and Loa ground Juice with a headlock. The crowd rallies behind Juice who escapes both GoD members and makes the tag to Mikey who drops both and hits a spinebuster and sliding lariat on Loa. Jado intervenes with a cane shot, Loa follows with a jackhammer and covers but Juice breaks it at 2. Tama tosses Juice into the barricade and tags in, GoD climbs opposite corners, Loa hits the diving headbutt and Tama gets the big splash and covers but only gets 2. Tama gets in the refs face, as does Loa, Jado in for a shot but Juice intercepts, disarms and jabs Jado, then adds Loa, then adds Tama and is jabbing everyone. Left Hand of God on Jado and Loa but Tama gets a Gun Stun, tries one on Mikey but he catches it into a backslide and gets the 3!
Mikey Nicholls & Juice Robinson defeat Guerrillas of Destiny by pinfall via backslide
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
This was a solid match and a set up for GoD’s next challengers for the IWGP Tag belts, and as such it delivered what it needed to. Juice is consistent, and GoD plays their roles well if there is a bit of a circus. Mikey is still the only one I have qualms about – firstly, I dont know why I care about the team in the first place, but at least I care about Juice. But Mikey is still generic as hell. His hot tag? It wasnt that hot. There isnt much personality or specific and personalized character at this point for me to feel any sort of way about him. He sort of just exists. So yeah, the work was fine, but I’m struggling to care beyond that.
After the match Tama attacks the ref but eats a Mikey Bomb from Mikey, and Mikey grabs the tag titles and brings them into the ring. Mikey grabs a mic and says he and Juice want their titles.
(Jay White, Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi)
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, ROPPONGI 3K & TOA HENARE
Before the match, Jay White terrorizes Yuya Uemura. Taiji and Yoh start off, with a nice crowd response for Yoh. Taiji with his signature evade but Yoh moves to evade Bombs Away, they run the ropes and Yoh hits a corkscrew elbow. Chase in, Sho tags in and R3K get a nice double team to take out Chase, and they drop Yujiro and Jay for good measure before ganging up on Taiji. Taiji holds the ropes to evade a quad dropkick and the action breaks down and spills outside as Taiji works over Sho in the ring, with Jay targeting Tana in the crowd. Chants for Tana are thrown in Jay’s face as Chase (now legal) works over Sho. Chase toys with Sho, Sho fires back and they trade with Chase’s experience edge getting better of Sho. Tag to Jay who keeps the faces at bay before hitting grounded dragon screws on Sho, then sitting down deep with a single leg crab. Sho gets the ropes to break, but Jay holds on. Tag to Yujiro who keeps working the knee and leg of Sho. Yujiro keeps things slowed down but misses a low dropkick, looks for a suplex but Sho escapes and comes out with a spear to change the momentum. Tag to Jay and tag to Tana, who fires off on Jay and hits a flying elbow. Slap to Chase, Taiji gets dropped, and Tana and Yoh get dragon screws on Jay and Taiji respectively. Slam and middle rope rolling senton hits, cover by Tana but only 2.
Sling Blade is blocked, Tana gets a flurry but Jay fights underneath him and gets a snap Saito and clears the face corner. Running corner Euro by Jay, Tana blocks a suplex, Jay blocks Sling Blade, Tana blocks Blade Runner and looks for a suplex but Jay turns it into a twisting brainbuster. Blade Runner is blocked and turned into Twist and Shout by Tana, and both are down. Tag to Henare who hits a Samoan on Jay, then catches Yujiro coming in and takes his head off with a thrust kick. Back to Jay, Henare gets the lifting stalling suplex on Jay, covers but Chase breaks it up before getting dumped by Yoh. Taiji in after Yoh but R3K hits double knees and the faces clear the ring, with Tana and Yoh taking out Yujiro and Chase with Pescados. Big lifting spear by Henare connects on Jay, cover but only 2. Uranage by Henare is blocked but Jay eats a headbutt and cuts Jay down with a lariat, covers but still only 2. Jay counters the uranage into a sleeper suplex, picks up Henare and drives him down with Blade Runner, cover and thats the WIN.
Bullet Club defeats Toa Henare, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Roppongi 3K by pinfall via Blade Runner
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
A good match that started finding its momentum in the closing, which saw Henare continue to show advancement in his ring and storytelling game. Jay White is also perfect in his role, and his rivalry with Tana is interesting. Yujiro and Yoh is also an intriguing matchup brewing. Overall, well done.
After the match, Jay White takes a mic and yells at Yoh saying no one cares about his birthday. (I guess it was Yoh’s birthday?) Jay then calls out Hirooki Goto and talks about embarrassing him to the point wheree Goto fled to LA. He calls Shibata a failure and embarrassment. The crowd doesnt feel plugged in, as Jay says Goto should retire. Jay now brings up the G1 and says Goto doesnt deserve to be in it, and says he’s going to make everyone else in the tournament famous, and that he is already the #1 Contender. Goto now runs down and drops Jay with a lariat, while wearing an LA Dojo shirt. Gedo tries to intervene but eats Ushigoroshi, and Jay begs off as the crowd chanted for Goto. Goto picks up the mic and cuts a promo on Jay (no translation provided), Jay teases a confrontation but then goes and collects Gedo. Jay and Gedo leave as Goto talks about the G1. NIce response for Goto in advance of the G1.
(Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)
KAZUCHIKA OKADA, TOMOHIRO ISHII, TORU YANO, JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER & TIGER MASK IV
No attack before the bell, surprising many. Liger and DOUKI start off, with nice chants for Liger. Tackles move no one, Liger hits a tilt a whirl backbreaker and locks in the Romero Special but YK breaks it up before getting dumped. Tag to Tiger who lays in kicks to DOUKI who goes for the mask and eyes and tags in Suzuki. Yano in after Suzuki and eats an elbow but then unwraps the corner before eating a Suzuki boot. Tiger fires back but gets caught in a hanging armbar and then the action spills outside and turns to chaos. Suzuki works over Tiger with a chair in the announce area, Archer takes on Okaada on the entrance ramp and the rest are elsewhere. Back inside and Suzuki hits a corner boot and PK, cocky cover but only 2. Tag to Archer who screams at Liger before turning to Tiger, hitting a throwing slam. Tiger fires off chops but eats a forearm, and Taichi tags in to keep the pressure on, going after Tiger’s mask. The ref is losing control of the match. Tag to YK who works over Tiger, landing a nice reverse DDT that Liger breaks up at 2. YK misses the moonsault but lands on his feet before eating a Tiger Driver, but Tiger cant follow up. Tags to Archer and Okada, and Okada is in hot hitting the running elbow to stagger Archer, dropping the heel corner and flapjacking DOUKI but Archer catches the running elbow. Okada escapes a slam and hits a DDT for 1.
Slam by Okada who looks to fly, he heads up but Archer cuts counters and hits a running crossbody. Archer looks for Blackout, Okada drops behind for Rainmaker, Archer counters and looks for the EBD Claw, Okada blocks, Archer looks for the chokeslam but Okada lands a dropkick and both are down. Tags to Ishii and Taichi. Taichi hits kicks, Ishii absorbs them and fires off chops as they trade. Big tackle by Ishii drops Taichi. Taichi gets a kick to the back in the corner as Suzuki-Gun drops the faces and Taichi’s pants go flying. Ishii ducks the Buzzsaw Kick but eats a second attempt HARD, and Taichi follows with the Stretch Plum. Ishii is getting wrenched but Liger escapes restraint and breaks it up. DOUKI in but Tiger cuts him off, YK drops Tiger and is dropped by Yano who sends Suzuki into the exposed corner, but Taichi floors him with an Axe Bomber. Axe Bomber connects on Ishii too, cover by Taichi but only 2. Superkick by Taichi is countered into a release German, but Taichi rolls and tags DOUKI who hits kicks and brings Suzuki-Gun in for the numbers advantage. PK by Suzuki, big splash by Archer and a slingshot DDT by DOUKI gets 2 but Okada is in and hits Archer with a dropkick, and then drills DOUKI with one. Ishii is up and hits a big lariat, the Vertical Drop Brainbuster follows and thats the 3.
Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada, Jushin Liger, Toru Yano & Tiger Mask IV defeat Suzuki-Gun by pinfall via Vertical Drop Brainbuster
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a pretty good multi-man tag match, with Ishii continuing to bring the best out of Taichi. Okada and Archer is an interesting pairing as Archer looks to build up his singles rep now that Killer Elite Squad is no more. A couple things to follow development-wise, but beyond that just a decent match all around.
After the match Okada and Archer face down, as do Taichi and Ishii again. Suzuki is already gone.
RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship
EL PHANTASMO (c)
Taguchi is out to a nice pop. ELP is being his asshole self. Taguchi offers the fist bump, but ELP flips him off. Big chants for Taguchi at the bell. ELP is jealous that his poses in the corner get boos while Taguchi’s get cheers. ELP tells Red Shoes to try and Red Shoes poses and does a Suck It sign to cheers, and ELP bails and takes his frustration out on the fans. Back inside and ELP gets an early advantage and is cocky about it. Lock up, they trade mat and hold work and Taguchi gets the advantage this time and rubs it in. ELP pulls a classic tantrum-throw. They play at the test of strength, with Taguchi getting the mind-game edge with a dance. Lock up, they grapple and try for a cradle, neither can get it and they separate after a mat sequence. Lock up again, mat work again with ELP doing pushups while holding a headscissors, headstand by Taguchi but ELP holds on. Taguchi out and grounds ELP but ELP makes the ropes. ELP extends the hand, Taguchi hesitates, finally agrees and ELP kicks him. They run the ropes and trade the rope running shtick, Taguchi with the drop downs and evades an ELP dropkick, showing he is the master. Taguchi looks to steal a bit of ELP’s rope walk, but ELP frees his hand and Taguchi crotches himself on the top rope. ELP now works Taguchi’s hand and fingers and goes for the rope walk himself and is just utterly smooth, teasing the shaking rope but maintaining control. Rope bounce into a rana connects and ELP covers but only gets 2, and chokes Taguchi.
Fisherman by ELP is blocked into a cradle for 2, but ELP hits a thudding kick to follow. Taguchi evades a sunset flip, but ELP looks to pants Taguchi again and gets Taguchi over for 2, but Taguchi is prepared with underwear this time! Taguchi counters a rollup into a face-sitting cover for 2 and follows with a corner hip attack. The spring hip attack is blocked via spank, ELP sits Taguchi on top, folds him over and turns the underwear thong-style and steps on his bum-hole while Taguchi hangs upside down, then spanks him hard. Cover after Taguchi falls but only 2, so ELP grounds him. Taguchi fights up with his ass still hanging out but misses a dropkick and eats a lionsault from ELP for 2. Red Shoes now tries to help Taguchi straighten himself out tights-wise, but ELP gets right back on him. Cover but the ref declines to count given shenanigans, so ELP grounds Taguchi again, fishhooking his mouth until Taguchi bites down on a finger to escape. Hip attack is countered into an atomic drop, and a second counter by ELP but ELP eats a boot, Taguchi fakes him out and hits a low enziguri. B-Trigger connects, ELP evades the spring but Taguchi gets a headscissors, dumps ELP and hits a spring hip attack to the outside to wipe out ELP. Back inside and Taguchi climbs and hits a big seated senton on a grounded ELP, which gets 2.
Hip attacks connect but ELP gets a rollup for 2, they run the ropes and both hit clotheslines and both are down. Chants for Taguchi. They go forehead to forehead, shots traded, ELP gets a double purple-nurple (!), kicks by ELP get cut off by a Taguchi lariat and both are down again. Taguchi goes for Dodon, ELP fights it off and gets a rollup for 2, then looks for the cutthroat tornado neckbreaker but Taguchi gets out of it and looks for a flying hip attack. ELP superkicks him in the bum and gets the cutthroat neckbreaker for 2. Chants for Taguchi. CR2 is reversed, Taguchi with hard shots and goes for 3 Amigos, ELP blocks the third and they jockey until Taguchi gets a gourdbuster and DDT, and starts channeling Shinsuke Nakamura. Taguchi lines ELP up… BUMMER YE! Cover, but only 2. ELP crotches Taguchi up top and gets him over in a super rana and follows with a big splash, but Taguchi gets the knees up and hits Dodon’s Throne! Cover, only 2 but Taguchi transitions immediately into the ankle lock. ELP makes the ropes to break. Dodon is blocked again but Taguchi gets a rollup for 2 and snatchs the ankle again, dragging ELP from the ropes and reversing another rollup attempt into the ankle lock! Taguchi drops the elbow and wrenches, ELP thinks about tapping but climbs over the ref to break the hold. ELP botches a Destroyer, covers but gets 2. ELP looks for CR2 again, Taguchi fights but ELP kicks Taguchi in the head and hits CR2 to retain.
El Phantasmo defeats Ryusuke Taguchi by pinfall via CR2 to retain the RevPro British Cruiserweight Title
JAY’S RATING: 2.8 out of 5
This started out fine but sort of puttered out for me as it went along. I have a higher tolerance than most for the shenanigans, especially as conducted by a master like Taguchi. But this didnt use those tactics to go anywhere, to build much, to create urgency and possibility. And so the match sort of lost momentum – and interest – the longer it went. There wasnt the fire one wants in a title situation, and ELP slipped a bit in terms of his quickness and sharpness. A fine showing, but not more than that, for a match that I feel had far more potential than this delivered.
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship
AND Sabre’s spot in the G1 Climax
ZACK SABRE, JR. (c)
ZSJ is a dick right away, pie-facing HASHI before his intro. We get the bell and ZSJ and HASHI go right to the mat to start. ZSJ gets arm control to ground HASHI, the grapple into the ropes and HASHI looks for a transition to the Butterfly Lock early, but ZSJ escapes. Cravate by ZSJ, HASHI hits an elbow, tackle and slam and stands tall. HARD Euro by ZSJ is answered by a stiff chop from HASHI, who drapes ZSJ over the top rope but misses the dropkick as ZSJ ties HASHI up in the ropes and wrenches. ZSJ brings HASHI outside and uses the barricade to inflict more damage on the leg, then rolls back inside and tells the ref to count. HASHI is back in around 16 and ZSJ pounces, tying up HASHI’s legs again but too closely to the ropes. ZSJ focuses on the legs of HASHI, particularly the left one. Kicks by ZSJ are followed by a deathlock, ZSJ turns HASHI over and just twists on the ankle and knee joints then transitions again into a half crab of sorts until HASHI rolls himself into the ropes. ZSJ toys with HASHI, Big Euro by ZSJ, Big chop by HASHI so ZSJ dropkicks the knee. The pace is slowed again by ZSJ, who kicks at HASHI until HASHI catches the leg and hits a big vertical suplex.
Chops by HASHI lead to Headhunter, HASHI measures ZSJ and hits a running corner chop, drapes ZSJ again and hits the dropkick this time, but cant follow up immediately. Bunker Buster connects, HASHI climbs but ZSJ moves to evade the Swanton and looks for a cross armbreaker, HASHI fights to keep his hands clasped but wrenches the arm until HASHI can roll into the ropes. Kicks by ZSJ, rewind kick by HASHI and a powerbomb is reversed by ZSJ into a triangle choke and HASHI drops to the ground. ZSJ applies the hold perfectly, but HASHI is able to lift ZSJ and turn it into a sitout powerbomb to escape. HASHI climbs again but ZSJ pops up and gets an ankle lock in the corner to wear HASHI down, then looks for a superplex, HASHI blocks but ZSJ locks up the arm, HASHI finally drops ZSJ and hits a blockbuster and covers but only gets 2. Butterfly Lock is applied but ZSJ quickly escapes and gets a Cobra Twist, which HASHI reverses into one of his own. HASHI transitions this into a pumphandle shoulderbreaker, hits a low superkick and applies the Butterfly Lock again. ZSJ tries to power out but HASHI deepens the hold, and ZSJ swings his legs to make the rope break.
Shots by HASHI, Euro by ZSJ but JESUS these chops from HASHI, ZSJ counters a fisherman buster with a kick to the arm and a kick to block a lariat but HASHI gets a headbutt and chest kick, looks for a seated meteora but ZSJ counters it FLUIDLY into an STF. ZSJ now catches HASHI’s bad shoulder and wrenches the arm, then turns it into a cutthroat choke then to a Muta Lock until HASHI finally gets the ropes to break. Zack Driver is countered into a backstabber, seated meteora connects into a cover but only gets HASHI 2. Karma is countered, they evade each others shots until ZSJ hits a thudding PK, then hits another and puts the boots to HASHI. Chants for HASHI. HASHI fires back, ZSJ catches the arm and stomps on it, then lays in Euros. BIG slaps by ZSJ, but HASHI gets a backslide into a cradle but only gets 2, but follows with a big lariat off the ropes. Karma is blocked again but HASHI gets an elbow, hits a Fisherman Flowsion and covers but still only gets 2. HASHI looks for Karma again but ZSJ snatches the arm, rolls over and gets an INSANE hold, HASHI cant move and the ref calls it off.
Zack Sabre Jr defeats YOSHI-HASHI by referee stoppage via SOMETHING AWESOME to retain the RevPro British Heavyweight Title and his spot in the G1 Climax
JAY’S RATING: 3.75 out of 5
This was a solid title match, but not my favorite HASHI performance as of late, which is disappointing because this was really his moment to feel like a threat to Sabre’s title, and while he did fine, I didnt ever once feel the threat. ZSJ was always able to get back into control, stay a step ahead, and just looked BETTER than HASHI. The crowd almost rallied behind HASHI, but then it never shifted into that necessary next gear to be truly great. SIGH. Well, ZSJ looked great as always, and HASHI fumbled his opportunity, but ZSJ gains momentum heading into the G1.
After the match, ZSJ takes the mic and tells them to shut up. He calls HASHI a joke, and calls the crowd cretins. He calls himself the greatest British wrestler of a generation, and says he’s never losing this title again, it will be buried with him next to Karl Marx. And guess whats next? The G1 Climax. ZSJ says he is winning the G1, and then he will become the first British IWGP champ. He insults the crowd and keeps talking, saying Strong Style is dead, Long Live Sabre-ism. Nice promo.
A pretty solid card overall, though the semi felt like a missed opportunity, and HASHI didnt quite live up to his moment against ZSJ. However, I like giving Sabre momentum ahead of the G1, and will be curious how he is booked amongst a pretty stacked pool that could go in a number of different directions. There’s part of me that’s starting to feel that they are thinking Naito, with EVIL’s actions putting LIJ in people’s view heading in, and to advance his “first double champ” agenda (which if they are going to pay off, putting it off longer feels unwise to me). A couple other interesting tensions surrounding Okada and Archer, as well as the spectre of Minoru Suzuki, still hang over the G1 – I’m excited, and this card advanced things well enough if it couldve stuck the landing better.