Some things of note from the Road to New Beginning Tour:
- On Night 3, KUSHIDA lost his final New Japan match before leaving for WWE to Hiroshi Tanahashi in what I’ve heard was a phenomenal and emotional send-off match.
- On Night 4, the Bullet Club team of Guerrillas of Destiny and Taiji Ishimori lost the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championships to Taguchi Japan’s Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe and Toru Yano in what was reported to be a fun match that saw Taguchi tap out Ishimori with the ankle lock in advance of Taguchi challenging for Ishimori’s Junior Heavyweight Title.
New Japan Pro Wrestling
THE NEW BEGINNING IN SAPPORO
February 2, 2019
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
Kevin Kelly and Andy Simmons of Revolution Pro Wrestling on commentary.
YUYA UEMURA vs REN NARITA
We get the bell and the Young Lions lock up and take it to the mat. Uemura gets a headscissors, Narita gets out of it while keeping Uemura grounded and they trade holds from there until a standoff, which gets a nice bit of applause from the crowd. Back to the lockup, Uemura with a headlock, Narita fights out of it and gets an Indian Deathlock, transitions into a headlock which he wrenches in. Narita sent to the ropes but takes down Uemura with a tackle, cover but only 2.
Narita looks for the Boston Crab (a primary finish assigned to Young Lions), but Uemura fights to the ropes to get the break. Boots by Narita to Uemura, Uemura fights out with a chop, they trade, Narita gets the advantage and a body slam, cover but only 2. Nice applause from the crowd, as these two are both showing nice focus and urgency. Hip toss by Narita followed by a chinlock, transition into a Camel Clutch, Uemura drags as best he can and makes it to the ropes for the break.
Uemura gets stomped down in the corner and choked by Narita, runs to the corner but Uemura follows and connects with a shot, Narita returns one, Uemura lands a running corner dropkick and covers Narita but only gets 2. Uemura now looks for the Boston Crab and is able to turn Narita over, Narita tries to power to the ropes but Uemura pulls him back and sits down, Narita fights again and makes it to the ropes for a break. Forearms from Uemura who fires up but eats a dropkick from Narita, cover but only 2.
They trade shots, Uemura gets aggressive but Narita looks for a bridging belly to belly he’s been using, Uemura breaks out and gets a double arm suplex! Cover and a CLOSE 2 count! Uemura looks for the Crab again and sits down, but Narita is too close to the ropes. More shots from Uemura, he hits the ropes but Narita catches him coming with a GREAT bridging belly to belly suplex for the cover and the WIN!
Ren Narita defeats Yuya Uemura by pinfall after a bridging belly to belly suplex
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
This was an entertaining little outing from the Young Lions, the crowd was into it given the focus and drive that both brought, Uemura showed some promising aggression and Narita’s new finish is pretty cool – sure its a belly to belly, but that bridge is gorgeous. Nice work by the rookies!
AYATO YOSHIDA & SHOTA UMINO vs MANABU NAKANISHI & TOA HENARE
Some tension between the teams at the start of the match. Henare and Yoshida start off with aggression, trading shots. Tackle by Henare takes down Yoshida, who comes right back and tries for a slam, Henare fights but Yoshida gets the slam and tags in Umino. Double team tackle takes down Henare, cover by Umino but only 2. Boots by Umino, but Henare hits a flying shoulder block and beats down Umino before tagging Nakanishi who knocks down Yoshida. Double tackle on Umino, falling chop and a running splash follow and Nakanishi covers for 2. Chops from Nakanishi and then he throws Umino into Henare’s boot and tags him in.
Henare knocks down Yoshida and keeps the pressure on Umino, gets a corner clothesline and a Samoan Drop, covers but Yoshida breaks it up at 2. Nakanishi tags in and stays on Umino, and again knocks Yoshida off the apron. Chops traded but Nakanishi gets the upper hand, chops against the ropes but Umino lands a nice dropkick. Tag to Yoshida who comes in hot and downs Nakanishi with a running boot, gets a running knee strike, a second one but Nakanishi grounds himself and looks for a lariat, Yoshida reverses and barely lifts Nakanishi for a suplex, covers but Henare breaks it at 2.
Yoshida knocks down Henare and stays on Nakanishi, but Nakanishi takes him down and calls for the lariat, hits it and covers but Yoshida is out at 2. Nakanishi looks for the rack, Yoshida fights out but Nakanishi gets Yoshida down and tags Henare, but Yoshida lands some big offense to take him down and gets a tag to Umino who knocks down Nakanishi and gets a sharp running basement dropkick to Henare. Suplex by Umino on Henare, cover but only 2 and Umino transitions to an armbar but Henare rolls to the ropes.
Umino climbs and gets a missile dropkick, looks for the fisherman, Henare blocks but eats a forearm and Umino looks for the armbar again before Nakanishi breaks it. Yoshida dumps Nakanishi and follows, Umino stays on Henare but Henare hits a pop-up Samoan Drop and a cover, but only gets 2. Strikes from Umino but Henare cuts it off with a headbutt, lines up Umino and hits the lifting spear, but Umino is out at 2. Henare with the uranage slam as Nakanishi holds back Yoshida, and thats gets the 3 count and the WIN.
Manabu Nakanishi & Toa Henare defeat Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
This was fine, and Yoshida and Umino are looking GREAT. Henare is fine, but I dont quite feel the spark from him yet. I see something deepening in him character wise, how he holds himself, but something else needs to click into the next gear. Yoshida and Umino held my interest more. Decent outing.
After the match, tensions flare between Yoshida and Henare.
SUZUKI-GUN (TAKA Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka)
HIROYOSHI TENZAN & TIGER MASK IV
Tenzan takes the mic and yells at Iizuka specifically. Iizuka rushes in and attacks Tenzan, choking him over the ropes with the mic cord. Tenzan is knock outside and Iizuka follows, and spends way too much time trying to untangle Tenzan from the cord. Iizuka brings Tenzon into the crowd and sends him into the chairs as TAKA works over Tiger Mask at ringside. TAKA now brings Tiger out to the crowd as Iizuka slams a chair over Tenzan’s back, and follows by choking Tenzan with a chair. The chaos continues and the ref FINALLY starts to count, and Iizuka makes his way back to the ring. Tenzan makes his way back from the crowd, getting in right at 19 as Iizuka puts the boots to him right away.
Tag to TAKA, who digs into Tenzan’s face and gets a blatant choke, and then works over the eyes. Tag to Iizuka and TAKA takes the muzzle off, so Iizuka goes right for Tenzan’s forehead and bites, then bites Tiger, then bites Tenzan’s hands, then looks to bite the ref, then bites Tenzan’s foot because why not. Tag to TAKA who hits a knee in the corner on Tenzan and covers but only gets 2. Chops from Tenzan but TAKA cuts him off with fingers to the eyes, runs the ropes but Tenzan hits a spinning heel kick and tags Tiger who hits a flying cross body but TAKA rolls through into a cover for 2.
Tiger flips out of a TAKA suplex and fights off Iizuka, gets a crucifix cover on TAKA but Iizuka breaks it at 2. Double team on Tiger floors Tiger, TAKA covers but only gets 2. TAKA and Tiger trade but Tiger is able to get the Tiger Driver, but Iizuka breaks the pin up at 2. Tag to Tenzan who floors both Iizuka and TAKA, and gets the signature Mongolian Chops on TAKA in the corner. Running corner clothesline, follows with a suplex on TAKA and covers but only gets 2. TAKA hits the ropes but Tenzan catches him with a Mountain Bomb, covers but only gets 2 before he locks in the Anaconda Vice, but Iizuka breaks the hold up before getting caught in a Mountain Bomb from Tenzan.
Chops to Iizuka send him outside, Tenzan turns his attention to TAKA and looks for the moonsault but Iizuka comes in with a chair shot to the back, then drives it into Tiger Mask as the referee calls for the bell and the DQ.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask IV defeat Suzuki-Gun by DQ because Iizuka’s nuts
JAY’S RATING: 2 out of 5
This match existed. Tenzan can still bring some fire, Tiger Mask was woefully underused, TAKA got some good stuff in and Iizuka is a one-trick pony. Thats about all.
After the bell, Iizuka takes out the iron fingers and plunges them into the throat of Tenzan. He takes out a Young Lion and he and TAKA stand tall. Tenzan takes the mic and calls out Iizuka again.
TOGI MAKABE, TOMOAKI HONMA, YOSHI-HASHI, TORU YANO & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI
BULLET CLUB (Guerrillas of Destiny, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori)
This match is primarily built around the coming IWGP Junior Heavyweight title match between Taiji and Taguchi, as they are given individual entrances. Tama and YOSHI start us off. Tama offers a handshake, YOSHI begs off so Tama hugs the ref. Tama is being such a GOOD GUY, but he gets yelled at to start wrestling already. Lockup and Tama gets a headlock, Tama gets whipped but uses his speed and agility to evade before eating a tackle from YOSHI, but comes back with a great dropkick that floors YOSHI.
Tama keeps on YOSHI but misses the Stinger Splash, YOSHI takes advantage and looks for a neckbreaker, Tama fights out but YOSHI gets the Bunker Buster. Tag to Chase and tag to Honma. Nice pop for Honma. Owens starts hot with strikes but Honma gets the knockdown, a slam and calls for Kokeshi but Jado interrupts with a kendo stick shot to the back which upsets Tama, because he’s such a GOOD GUY. Owens follows up outside and stays on Honma, with Jado getting shots in as well. Jado holds Honma for Tama who is conflicted and says he cant do it.
Honma thrown back in with Owens, who beats down Honma. Tag to Loa, who keeps the pressure on Honma. Loa with a slam, and a tag to Yujiro who stays on Honma. Snapmare and a running basement single leg dropkick and a cover but only a nearfall. Tag to Taiji who keeps the pressure on. Quick tags continue as Owens comes in. Honma fires back, Owens cuts him off with a knee to the gut and looks to send Honma into Yujiro’s boot, but Tama pushes it away. They try again but Tama interferes again, and he says he’s sorry. Tag to Yujiro and then to Loa and Honma now gets sent into Taiji’s boot. Tag to Tama and BC tells him to send Honma into their boots but Honma fights it off and looks for the tag but Taiji cuts him off.
Taiji hits running knees on Honma in the corner, looks for a suplex but Honma counters into a vertical suplex of his own and gets the tag to Taguchi. Taiji catches the hip attack into an atomic drop, but Taguchi comes back with a basement dropkick before knocking down BC. Taguchi looks for 3 Amigos, Taiji tries to reverse the third but Taguchi gets him over and covers for 2. Dodon attempt is reversed into an ankle lock, but Taguchi rolls it into one of his own until Taiji gets the ropes. Taiji glances Taguchi with the handspring enziguri, tag to Makabe and tag to Loa.
The big dudes collide with lariats, but Makabe gets the advantage in the corner with the punches and looks for the Northern Lights, Loa blocks and they eat lariats again. Makabe hits the ropes but Loa hoists him, Makabe reverses but Loa evades and looks for control until Makabe lands a left arm lariat. Tag to Yano, Loa fights back but Yano grabs the hair until Loa lands a neckbreaker. Tag to Yujiro and BC takes out Team Taguchi and gets the team advantage on Yano in the corner. Double team neckbreaker by Owens and Yujiro, knee strike by Taiji leads to a 2 count.
Yujiro hits a fisherman buster on Yano, covers but only 2. Yujiro looks for the low DDT but YOSHI cuts it off with a lariat, Owens takes him out with a backbreaker before eating a flying Kokeshi from Honma, Tama takes him down as Makabe comes in but GoD looks for the double team, and they get floored by Makabe lariats. Taguchi takes out Jado on the apron and wipes out Taiji with a plancha, Yano gets a low blow behind the refs back on Yujiro, Makabe gets a chop and Yano gets a rollup with tights and the WIN!
Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & Ryusuke Taguchi defeat Bullet Club by pinfall after Toru Yano shenanigans
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
This didnt do much for me, there was a little bit of nice hype for Taguchi and Taiji which should be entertaining, and Tama’s shtick is growing on me, but other than that, this match existed at best really.
SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi)
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito)
Suzuki-Gun attacks before the bell, except for Taichi and Naito who stare at each other in the ring as the others take the action outside. Aaaand they keep looking at each other. Taichi now extends the hand. Naito makes to accept but then throws up the LIJ fist for a bump. Taichi doesnt bump, and Naito then spits in Taichi’s face. Taichi goes for Naito’s eyes, Naito fights back, Taichi evades to outside as Naito goes tranquilo, which Taichi mocks on the apron as the mind-games heighten and the action slows down again.
Taichi back inside and Desperado tags himself in, and BUSHI in as well and they go right for each other. Running rana by BUSHI as Shingo drops Kanemaru, double team by LIJ on Desperado and a cover but Desperado up fast. Choke with the t-shirt by BUSHI, but the ref breaks it with Desperado in the ropes. Tag to Shingo who lands a big slam and kicks away Kanemaru at ringside. Desperado goes for the eyes and chops Shingo, Shingo fires back, they trade shots and Shingo starts mounting momentum but Kanemaru trips him and pulls him outside, drapes him over the rail and hits a leg drop to the back of the head as Naito is sent into the barricade as well.
The action breaks out completely outside. Desperado gets Shingo with a chair shot in the crowd, Naito is down as Taichi lays the chair in and Shingo is sent into the ringpost. Taichi chokes out Naito in the crowd, Shingo is back inside as Kanemaru tags in. Double team on Shingo, then tag to Taichi who has grabbed the IC belt. The ref is distracted but Taichi tosses the belt aside and goes right for Shingo’s eyes, then puts him against the ropes and into the Suzuki-Gun corner for the triple team.
Tag to Desperado who slams Shingo for 2. The numbers game continues on Shingo who tries to fight out of the opposing corner but they keep him firmly in their control. Tag to Kanemaru who kicks at Shingo, hits the ropes but Shingo fires back, hits the ropes himself but Desperado cuts him off. Kanemaru looks for offense, Shingo pops him into a carry but Kanemaru gets behind, but Shingo turns it into a suplex and tags in Naito who goes right for Kanemaru. Running rana takes down Kanemaru, Desperado in but taken out as Taichi scopes the action from the apron.
Naito with the corner dropkick, sweeps the leg, takes out Taichi and then finishes the combo and covers but only gets 2. Kanemaru shoves the ref into Naito to get the opening for an enziguri, then tags in Taichi. They trade shots, Taichi spits at Naito and lands some kicks to take Naito down, Suzuki-Gun keeps LIJ at bay at ringside as Taichi whips off the pants. Naito blocks a kick and hits an enziguri and single leg dropkick off the ropes to take out Taichi. Tag to BUSHI who hits a missile dropkick but Taichi’s team is in, but BUSHI takes them over with a double rana.
BUSHI with a swinging fisherman neckbreaker on Taichi, cover but only 2. BUSHI looks for MX but gets misted with whiskey, Desperado takes down Shingo and Naito eats a Buzzsaw Kick from Taichi. BUSHI taken out with a double team and Taichi takes him down with a lariat, covers but only gets 2. Naito is held as he watches BUSHI get killed with a backdrop driver, cover on BUSHI and Taichi gets the WIN for Suzuki-Gun.
Suzuki-Gun defeats LIJ by pinfall after a Back Drop Driver
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was fine and entertaining at points, but needed to switch into another gear. That being said, the storytelling was fine and at least consistent, with Taichi continuing to grow his abilities on all fronts and feel like more of a threat. The match itself was fine enough though it left me wanting more.
After the match, Taichi mocks tranquilo as Naito is held and beaten down along with the rest of LIJ. Desperado takes BUSHI’s mask again.
MINORU SUZUKI vs SANADA
We get the bell and they take it slow, circling each other until Suzuki looks for a kick, SANADA looks for a Paradise Lock in response and they break and stand off. Suzuki gets the arm, they trade holds with Suzuki looking strong in the grappling game, SANADA fights out and looks for the Paradise Lock again but Suzuki fights out. SANADA gets a dropkick to the knee and looks for the Paradise Lock again but Suzuki rolls it into an armbar, another attempt from SANADA and this time he gets it! Suzuki is tied up! SANADA does the Captain Morgan on Suzuki, and then breaks him out with the dropkick.
Suzuki is INCENSED and comes right at SANADA, beating him down in the corner, throwing the ref aside and following SANADA outside, landing a PK from the apron. SANADA is sent hard into the barricade and the action spills into the timekeepers area, Suzuki grabs a chair, the ref takes it away but Suzuki takes SANADA deeper and slams him into the Japanese announce area and slams a chair across SANADA’s back. Suzuki throws SANADA into the crowd and drives a chair into him as the ref tries to break it up. Suzuki starts man-haandling the ref, but mockingly makes nice and then walks back to the ring.
Suzuki grabs a piece of guardrail and makes to go back to SANADA with it, the ref takes it away so Suzuki grabs another one and slams it on top of SANADA, then slams chairs on top of that as the ref counts them both. Suzuki marches back to the ring as SANADA runs back and makes it inside in time as Suzuki stalks over to him and paintbrushes him with kicks. Cover by Suzuki but only 2 as Suzuki turns it into a double wrist/Kimura lock, mounting SANADA to apply maximum pressure, but SANADA makes it to the ropes.
Suzuki stays on SANADA with strikes and paintbrushes, SANADA fires back and Suzuki absorbs chops but evades a dropkick, looks for PK but SANADA catches the foot and looks for a dragon screw but SUZUKI BLOCKS IT INTO AN ARMBAR! What a great counter. SANADA gets the ropes for the break. Suzuki works over the arm, slaps SANADA derisively but SANADA dodges the boot and dropkicks the knee, then hits the Dragon Screw to take down Suzuki. “SANADA” chants.
SANADA gets the leapfrog dropkick on Suzuki, who goes to ringside but SANADA takes him out with a dive over the top. Suzuki rolled back inside, SANADA with shots in the corner, Suzuki reverses and lands a boot and a PK off the ropes, covers but only gets 2. Suzuki fires up SANADA with mocking shots, and they start to trade shots. The action picks up but Suzuki evades a springboard and locks in the rear choke, looks for the Gotch but SANADA fights to counter. Knee from Suzuki but SANADA hoists him, but Suzuki maneuvers behind for a choke that SANADA counters into a dragon sleeper and drops into Skull End. SANADA releases and looks for the moonsault, but Suzuki gets the knees up.
Both back up and they trade shots again, SANADA fires up but Suzuki hits a solid one, SANADA wants more and Suzuki hits another stiff one, and a third and SANADA finally collapses. Suzuki is confidently in charge, “SANADA” chants and Suzuki is pissed about that. They trade again, SANADA gets an advantage but Suzuki slaps the hell out of him until SANADA lands a rolling elbow before eating a running Suzuki dropkick and both are down. Both up again, Suzuki lays in strikes, SANADA tries to strike but Suzuki catches him in the rear naked choke again and SANADA fades, Suzuki looks for the Gotch Style Piledriver again but SANADA lifts Suzuki and tosses him off!
They run the ropes, SANADA gets a rollup for 2 but Suzuki turns it into a choke, SANADA reverses and looks for a TKO but Suzuki out of it, they keep the action quick in the ring as SANADA catches another dragon sleeper! SANADA drops for Skill End but Suzuki is able to quickly turn SANADA around and plant him hard with the Gotch Style Piledriver, covers and gets the WIN.
Minoru Suzuki defeats SANADA by pinfall after a Gotch Style Piledriver
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
This had some fun to it, with Suzuki being dropped in as always, though I feel like SANADA fell into that habit he has of not always bring the urgency and will to win to his matches. Thats the main thing that held this back for me. But god I love Minoru Suzuki. What a great fighter, wrestler, character. Bow to The King.
ZACK SABRE, JR. vs EVIL
ZSJ does his shitty cocky heel thing before the bell. They start by feeling each other out, they lock up and trade go-behinds, ZSJ gets EVIL down for a ½ count and they stand off. EVIL calls for the knuckle lock, which ZSJ takes and they each look for arm control, with EVIL winning the test of strength at the start and keeping ZSJ down. ZSJ gets a great twist counter out of it, they each look for spots and get evasions until EVIL lands a tackle that takes down ZSJ.
EVIL takes arm control again and uses his power advantage, looks for a surfboard which ZSJ tries to turn out of but EVIL maintains control. ZSJ looks to whip EVIL over out of it but EVIL keeps wrist control and maintains the surfboard. Great counter attempt from ZSJ but EVIL continues to be one step ahead, putting his head and then his knee into EVIL’s back. ZSJ finally escapes and looks for a Rings of Saturn style move on EVIL, but EVIL gets the ropes to break.
ZSJ kicks EVIL in the back and works over the arm, wrist and elbow of EVIL, then kicks him in the arm before wrenching the arm over the bottom rope. Kicks from ZSJ who is keeping the pace slow, and who lays in Euros to EVIL before choking him in the corner. ZSJ works over the face and head, getting a snapmare and then twisting EVIL’s neck with his legs, then locks in a cravate. EVIL fights back but ZSJ looks for a Cobra Twist, EVIL escapes and gets a Cobra Twist of his own, ZSJ escapes but EVIL catches him in a sidewalk slam.
EVIL gets a clothesline and running bulldog out of the corner on ZSJ, follows up with a standing senton and a cover for 2 that EVIL turns over so he can work the wrist of ZSJ. ZSJ rolls out of it but eats an elbow, EVIL looks for a fisherman but ZSJ counters into an octopus which he takes the ground, grabs both arms and gets a grounded version of Hurrah until EVIL gets his feet to the ropes. ZSJ works over the arm, but so does EVIL, ZSJ catches EVIL coming in a Triangle but EVIL lifts ZSJ up and bombs him down before collapsing.
Elbow from EVIL knocks ZSJ off the apron to the outside, where EVIL follows and takes ZSJ up the entry ramp, holds ZSJ’s wrist and hoists him up but ZSJ escapes and looks to work the arm, but EVIL uses his power to turn it into a fisherman buster on the ramp! EVIL brings ZSJ back in and lands Darkness Falls, covers but ZSJ is out at 2. EVIL calls for the end but ZSJ reverses Everything Is Evil into an arm twist and a kick to the chest and both are down. EVIL is up first and lays in an elbow, ZSJ fires back with a Euro, they trade big blows, EVIL puts down ZSJ with chops to the chest and crushes him in the corner with a clothesline.
EVIL keeps on ZSJ, but ZSJ sits EVIL down and lands a big PK, covers but only gets 2 as everything slows down again. ZSJ picks up EVIL into a guillotine choke, then looks for the Zack Driver but EVIL counters with a gut kick, crushes ZSJ with a clothesline in the corner, then hoists him onto the top in the corner. EVIL looks for a superplex but ZSJ turns it into an octopus on the top rope, the ref calls for the break but ZSJ continues to work the arm until EVIL hits headbutts, climbs to the top rope and hits a big superplex.
EVIL calls for a lariat and hits a heavy one off the ropes, covers but ZSJ is out at 2. EVIL picks up ZSJ and looks for the finish but ZSJ gets the European Clutch, but EVIL barely makes it out at 2. ZSJ works the arms, looks for a chest kick, EVIL counters but ZSJ gets a beautiful bridging backslide which EVIL is able to kick out of at 2. Shots traded as EVIL lands a big headbutt, short arm lariat and looks for Everything is Evil again, ZSJ looks for the rollup out of it again but this time EVIL is finally able to land the move, covers ZSJ and walks away with the WIN!
EVIL defeats Zack Sabre, Jr by pinfall after Everything Is Evil
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a good match with some solid spots and great work by both ZSJ and EVIL, though nothing is new there. The big issue I had was it all sort of plateaued pace-wise, and got stuck in its arm and heavy strikes mode that kept things SUPER slow without that slowness necessarily leading anywhere. So the whole thing flattened out a bit. Nonetheless, these are two of the best up and coming workers in New Japan and the reasons why still very much came through here. Its a shame it felt like it got a bit stuck in one gear.
BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Bad Luck Fale)
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & KAZUCHIKA OKADA
Okada and Tana pose for the cameras, and Jay steps in and in front of them saying that he and Fale are “the real dream team.” Jay and Tana start off as we get the bell. Lockup, Jay puts Tana in the corner and looks to get in Tana’s head by going for the previously injured knee of Tana. Headlock by Tana on Jay, Tana gets whipped but he holds on tight to Jay’s head. Jay gets the whip this time and drops down but Tana drops back into the headlock, showing the experience advantage. Jay grabs the hair to make Tana let go, but Tana returns the favor and takes down Jay with a crossbody off the middle turnbuckle, and gives the crowd some air guitar.
Tag to Okada as the “Dream Team” hit double team sentons and a double team elbow drop on Jay. “Okada” chants as Okada gets the snapmare and single leg basement dropkick off the ropes, but Jay fights Okada back and gets the tag to Fale. Fale uses his power to push off Okada, who comes right back at Fale in full fighting mode until Fale whips Okada to the corner with a thud. Okada fires back, springs over Fale and looks for a sleeper, but Fale just falls backward and squashes Okada under his mass as Jay whips Tana hard to the barricade. Fale and Okada on the floor now as well as Okada gets thrown into the rail and Jay chokes out Tana. Choke from Fale on Okada as well using an Okada novelty towel,
Jay brings Tana into the crowd and buries Tana under a bunch of guardrails, then tosses Yuya Uemura on top of the pile. Back inside Fale is firmly in control of Okada. Fale throws Okada outside, which gives Jay the opportunity to work over Okada against the railing and ring apron. Okada is rolled back inside as Jay White tags in and lands a big running uppercut in the corner and a head and arm suplex into the corner, a cover but only 2 over Okada. Jay gets in Tana’s face before turning Okada over into the half Boston Crab, which he sits down on. Tana interrupts but Fale in to dump Tana, and then gets the tag in.
Fale puts the boots to Okada who fights back and looks for a guillotine but Fale just carries him and puts Okada hard into the corner and tags in Jay. Chop from Jay to Okada followed by a headlock, and we get “Okada” chants. Okada fights up and hits the ropes but Jay catches him with a back elbow, covers for 2 and goes back to the headlock to ground Okada. Okada up but Jay stays on him, until Okada catches him off the ropes in a flapjack and looks to tag Tana, which he gets and Tana goes for Jay with shots and a flying forearm before knocking down Fale.
Tana keeps the pressure on Jay, gets a slam in front the corner and hits the somersault senton off the middle turnbuckle, covers but only gets 2. “Tanahashi” chants. Tana calls for Sling Blade but Jay catches him coming with chops to the chest, and then takes Tana’s knee out with a chop-block. Jay hoists Tana who fights out, but Jay counters into a snap Saito suplex. Tag to Fale who hits body shots and clubbing blows on Tana in the corner. Tana evades a crush from Fale and goes behind, looks to suplex Fale but Fale is too big and fights Tana off, looks for a suplex but Okada counters and he and Tana get a double suplex to take Fale over.
Jay in to try to stop Tana but Tana takes out his knee and gets the tag to Okada! Okada goes for Fale, hits him off the ropes with an elbow and plants him with a DDT before kipping up. Okada gets a HUGE body slam on Fale, then climbs but Fale moves and lands a Samoan Drop on Okada. Big splash, cover on Okada but only 2 for Fale as Jay throws Tana into the barricade. Fale looks for Grenade but Okada counters with a dropkick and looks for the Air Raid Neckbreaker, but Fale hoists him up for the Bad Luck Fall, Okada out of it but Fale runs over Okada off the ropes.
Tags on both sides and Jay and Tana duck each other, then get in each others faces and trade shots. They both fire up hard and the crowd is with them, Jay goes to the knee again but Tana gets him with Sling Blade, covers but only gets 2 as Okada knocks Fale down to the outside. Tana has Jay set up for the Cloverleaf but Jay fights out of it and goes for the knee again, but Tana catches a kick and gets a Dragon Screw, Fale in but Okada gets a Dragon Screw on him as well! Tana runs the ropes but Gedo grabs the leg, which allows Jay to get the Flatliner/Deadlift German suplex combo into a bridge, covers but only gets 2.
Jay calls for Blade Runner but Okada breaks it up, Fale in but Tana takes him out with Sling Blade, Jay comes at Tana but Okada lands a dropkick and the Dream Team is fired up! Tombstone on Jay by Okada, holds him for Tana who hoists him and pancakes him with a Styles Clash, Okada comes off the top with a flying elbow and Tana looks for High Five Flow. Gedo on the apron for the distraction which lets Fale get in and toss Tana off, Okada comes springing in but Fale takes him down with Grenade, gets a Grenade on Tana as well as Jay crawls over, stands over Tana and then hoists him into a running DVD and a cover, but Tana is out at 2.
Jay calls for Blade Runner but Tana turns it into Twist and Shout, Fale in next but Fale gets a Twist and Shout as well. Gedo on the apron again which distracts the ref, Jay has a chair but Tana ducks it and hits Sling Blade, and then a release German Suplex on Fale. Jay comes up behind with a chair and goes right for the injured leg, gets grounded Dragon Screws on the leg and Jay then rolls Tana over into an inverted Figure Four as Okada is held back by Okada. Tana fights for the ropes as Fale crushes Okada with a splash and a Bad Luck Fall, Jay wrenches on the knee and Tana cant go anywhere so he finally has to tap, and Jay White has submitted the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion!
Bullet Club defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada by submission with an inverted Figure Four
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a very strong main event in my view, that moved stories forward, played to everyone’s strength and gave us a dramatic final match moment to close out the action of the night. I love Jay White going over Tanahashi here – I dont think he’s going to take the IWGP title on his first try, but I love the teasing it as possible and anchoring that in not only beating Tanahashi, but MAKING HIM TAP. Okada is looking good, Fale played to his strenghs and they landed the key storytelling. Well done all around.
After the match, Jay gets the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship belt and holds it over his own head, and then calls for the mic. Jay says that he said he would beat him and take the belt from him. Jay says there is no “if”, it will not be a shock, he’s already beaten Tanahashi and even made him tap out tonight. He tells the crowd that Tana gave up, and this also was a history making match given the first time two kiwis have main evented together on the same team. Jay says he will embarrass Jermaine one more time because this is the cutthroat era, and all the people here, Okada and Tanahashi have to Breathe with the Switchblade. This brings Tana at Jay but Fale cuts him off and holds him back, and Jay says its his belt and then hits Blade Runner on Tana, and then walks off with the title belt which he raises high.
This was a fine event, but also on the whole not containing much to write home about. The main event was quite good and had some great story threads to explore, and Jay stealing the title belt could be fun here. The two special singles matches, EVIL vs ZSJ and SANADA vs Minoru Suzuki, were fun but also had some issues holding them back, the Young Lions looked strong, and the rest of the work was at most good. Some stuff set up for Day 2, so there’s that to look forward to. But all in all, this card had some trouble keeping my attention at times, and just didnt have the electricity behind it that I was hoping for. There’s a chance that they are treating Day 1 more as whetting the appetite and are looking to snap off some higher intensity matchups on Day 2 and beyond, in which case this did the job just fine. But thats how this card felt regardless. Good work by the talent, but something missing from the big picture.