New Japan Pro Wrestling
SENGOKU LORD 2019
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero & Tom Partridge on commentary.
YOTA TSUJI & YUYA UEMURA vs REN NARITA & SHOTA UMINO
Tension between the Lions before the bell. Umino and Tsuji start at the bell. Nice grappling to begin. Power advantage by Tsuji running over Umino. They start beating each other down with stuff strikes. Shots traded. Umino gets a basement dropkick and covers for 2. Tag to Narita. Slam and a cover by Narita for 2. Sleeper by Narita as Umino keeps Uemura at bay. Tag to Umino. Double tackle drops Tsuji for 2. Narita keeps control, but gets backdropped by Tsuji. Tag to Uemura who comes in hot. Hiptoss by Uemura for 2. Uemura looks for the Boston Crab, the Young Lions core finisher, but Narita gets to the ropes. Tsuji in with Uemura for the double team, jumping slam by Tsuji and Uemura locks in the Boston Crab, but Umino breaks it up. Umino fires at everyone but eats a GORGEOUS double dropkick. Great double underhook suplex by Uemura but Narita is out at 2. Uemura fires up and hits the ropes but Narita catches him in that AWESOME bridging belly to belly suplex for the 3 count.
Ren Narita & Shota Umino defeat Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura by pinfall after a bridging belly to belly suplex
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was a fun opener from the Young Lions, with Narita and Umino really looking great and Tsuji and Uemura showing growth, and all four gaining some fire and urgency as they advance their training and careers. Nicely done.
(Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Desperado, & TAKA Michinoku)
JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER, YUJI NAGATA, SATOSHI KOJIMA, TOMOAKI HONMA
& TOA HENARE
Suzuki-Gun attacks before the bell because OF COURSE THEY DO. The chaos spills to ringside as usual. Honma and TAKA trade in the ring. Flying Kokeshi connects on TAKA and he HITS THE FALLING KOKESHI ON THE FIRST TRY! WOW! TAKA hits a pump kick and tags Suzuki, who wants Liger. Honma tags in Liger. Grappling to start. Suzuki and Liger start flaring tensions, they trade shots but Suzuki is able to get Liger outside and sends him into the railing and announce table. Suzuki buries Liger under plunder in classic fashion and keeps the pressure on. Suzuki back in and the ref begins the count. Liger barely in at 19. Tag to Taichi, who tries to unmask Liger but its broken up. TAKA tagged in who keeps on Liger. TAKA with a corner high knee for a 2 count. Kanemaru tagged in. Liger tries to fire up but is beaten back down. Liger turns the tide and gets the middle rope superplex and both are down. Desperado cuts off a Liger tag but eats a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and tags Nagata. Big kicks to Kanemaru, then TAKA.
Exploder is blocked by Desperado but Nagata fakes both out and drops them. Exploder connects on Kanemaru for 2 and gets the eye-roll Fujiwara but its broken up. Kojima tagged in and gets machine-gun chops on Despy, TAKA and Kanemaru. He hits “Icchauzo Bakayaro” but Suzuki in to cut it off before the elbow drop. Tag to Taichi. Kojima with the Tenzan Mongolian Chops, Taichi takes Kojima’s elbow pad off for some reason, Kojima blocks his lariat and hits a Koji Cutter. Tag to Henare. Henare drops Taichi with a flying tackle. Deadlift suplex by Henare connects. The faces drop the heels and get the quintuple-team. Spear by Henare but its broken at 2. Henare fires up with Taichi and looks for the uranage, Taichi blocks and the heels are in for the numbers advantage. Taichi loses the pants and gets a buzzsaw kick for 2. Superkick by Taichi misses and Henare rolls him up for 2. Superkick by Taichi connects this time and Taichi locks in the Stretch Plum, and Henare submits.
Suzuki-Gun defeats Liger, Nagata, Kojima, Honma & Henare by submission with the Stretch Plum
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
Another fine match toward the top of the card. Liger looked great with Suzuki. There were a few substories at play here, but this was really about celebrating Liger and having a fun 10-man, and on that level it delivered.
After the match, the faces celebrate Liger to great crowd response, and Liger raises Henare’s arm.
BULLET CLUB (Guerrillas of Destiny & Taiji Ishimori)
TOGI MAKABE, TORU YANO & DRAGON LEE
Bullet Club strikes at the bell, with Taiji and Lee starting off. Lee comes back right away (and almost cant get his shirt off, haha) and hits a hesitation dropkick. Butterfly backbreaker and basement single leg dropkick connects, Lee looks to fly but Jado gets a cane shot in. Taiji goes to unmask Lee but the ref breaks it up with the threat of DQ. Tag to Loa. SNAP running powerslam by Loa connects for 2. Tag to Tama who keeps the pressure on. Snap suplex by Tama for 2. Tag to Taiji. Sliding German out of the ropes by Taiji connects nicely. Lee with a snap German, Taiji right up, Lee hits a knee strike but runs into a lariat and both are down. Tag to Togi and Tama, but Loa comes in.
Togi gets both in corners and hits lariats, then hits the 10 punches on Tama and the Northern Lights for 2. Tama hits a short spear to change momentum. Togi asks Tama for more offense, absorbing each shot but hitting a lariat at the end. Tag to Yano and he goes for the corner pad, Tama runs into it but Yano does as well. Tag to Loa and BC gets a triple team on Yano. GoD with the 3D Neckbreaker but Lee breaks it at 2. Rana by Lee dumps Taiji and he wipes him up with a tope con giro. Togi prevents Apeshit on Yano but GoD cuts him down nicely. Yano gets sent into the metal turnbuckle but Yano sends Loa into it, sets up GoD for a Togi double clothesline and gets a rollup on Loa for a sneaky 3 count by the Sublime Master Thief!
Toru Yano, Togi Makabe & Dragon Lee defeat Bullet Club by pinfall after a rollup
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was another fun match, quick and to the point while hyping two title matches coming up. I am an unabashed Yano fan so I dug the finish a lot, and Lee and Taiji certainly got me excited for their upcoming title rematch. Well done.
After the match Yano holds the IWGP Tag belts but GoD attacks and takes them back, and drop Togi and Yano with belt shots.
CHASE OWENS vs MIKEY NICHOLLS
Jado gets a cane shot before the bell while Mikey was still at ringside, and he gets ejected by the ref. Chase is able to attack before the bell and keeps right on Mikey hard from the start, beating him down and working him at ringside. Nice legsweep into the rail by Chase, followed by a sick draped neckbreaker off the apron onto the floor. The ref begins the count. Mikey barely beats the count. Chase keeps the pressure on. Corner crush into a clothesline gets 2 for Chase. Mikey fights back and beats down Chase in the corner, and gets MAD before Chase dumps him over the top to the floor. Chase brings him back in for a sharp running knee strike for 2.
Abdominal stretch by Owens using the ropes for leverage, but the ref is catching it. The ref finally does and kicks away Chase’s grip, allowing Mikey to come back with shots. NICE DDT by Mikey connects. Clotheslines by Mikey connect and a spinebuster gets 2. Firemans by Mikey is reversed but Mikey gets a rollup for 2, Chase gets one of his own for 2 but Mikey hits a DVD and sliding lariat for 2. Mikey calls for the end, Chase counters, shots traded and Chase gets a nice rebound lariat. BIG running knee by Chase, looks for the Package Piledriver, Mikey counters but Chase gets an interested variation of Nightmare on Helms Street for 2. Superkick by Chase is blocked, Mikey Bomb is blocked as well and Chase hits the next superkick. Chase goes for a lariat but Mikey connects with the Mikey Bomb and gets the 3 count.
Mikey Nicholls defeats Chase Owens by pinfall after the Mikey Bomb
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
The right guy won, but I feel like Mikey is stuck where Jay White was in the early days of the Switchblade gimmick – still figuring out the character and how to make it read in a grounded way. Because honestly, the “Mad” Mikey moniker doesnt quite feel accurate to him yet, this match was an opportunity for that but it didnt quite connect for me – it was a bit more “Seriously Peeved” Mikey in its impact to me. If he’s gonna break out, he needs to show more than we saw here, as Chase came off stronger to me (and I’m a Chase Owens fan, so no complaints from me on that end, but if this was supposed to help Mikey get over… I’m just not sure).
BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Hikuleo) vs HIROOKI GOTO & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI
Taguchi is out in full rugby regalia. Love it. Hikuleo (heretofore “Leo”) is fucking tall. Goto and Jay start off, but Jay bails fast and tags Leo in. They lock up and the size difference is vast as Leo dominates. Tackle attempt moves no one. And another. The third staggers Leo, Goto keeps it up but Jay takes Goto out from behind as Leo drops Taguchi. Tag to Jay, Goto evades the double team and dumps Leo, then drops Jay with a mid-kick. Tag to Taguchi and Goto tells him to run the bases with corner clotheslines to Jay. Jay evades a double team and Leo takes the faces out from behind. The action spills to ringside and BC beats down the faces. Jay back in and teh ref starts counting the faces out, and Taguchi barely makes it back. Elbow by Jay for 2. Tag to Leo. HUGE VERTICAL SUPLEX from Leo for 2. Tag to Jay and they double team Taguchi. Cover by Jay for 2, who keeps Taguchi grounded.
The crowd fires up Taguchi but Jay counters a hip attack into an atomic drop twice but Taguchi hits the 3rd one. Tag to Goto who comes in hot. Goto suplex is blocked but he beats Jay down more and lands the Saito suplex for 2. Ushigoroshi is blocked, they trade move attempts but Jay hits a snap Saito and tags in Leo. Honkytonk Man style swinging neckbreaker by Leo connects for 2. Taguchi tries to fly in but botches the spring hip attack and Leo reverses into a powerslam. Leo gets back on Goto, Goto escapes and they trade until Goto drops Leo with a lariat. GTR attempt, Gedo distracts and Jay looks for Blade Runner but Goto counters and gets Jay with Ushigoroshi, then hits one on Leo too. GTR attempt connects this time, cover by Goto and thats the 3 count.
Hirooki Goto & Ryusuke Taguchi defeats Bullet Club by pinfall after GTR
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was fine and had fun and strong moments, but never really coalesced into something that felt like it mattered, which is sad given this program with Jay and Goto right now. This match didnt really help me care. Leo taking the fall was the right move though.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON
(Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi)
(Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, SHO & YOH)
Tension between Ishii and EVIL to start. YOH and Shingo start. Chants for R3K and Shingo. They trade grapping and quickly pick up the pace, with Shingo flooring YOH with a tackle, but YOH is back up. YOH counters a Shingo dragon screw and gets one of his own. Tag to Ishii and he wants EVIL. Tag to EVIL. Tackle series gets things fired up quick. Shots traded. Ishii absorbs and goes stoic. EVIL tries to return the favor and they trade again. AND THEY KEEP TRADING. The crowd starts clapping along with the strikes. AND THEY KEEP GOING!!! Dang. Finally it starts to slow down, EVIL staggers, tackle attempts continue and Ishii staggers but then drops EVIL with one of his own. Tag to HASHI. EVIL drops Ishii and then drops HASHI, but Ishii rushes in and they trade again, but EVIL drops Ishii as HASHI comes back and snags Headhunter. Tag to SHO who keeps pressure on, then tags YOH as R3K gets a double team, but EVIL evades, BUSHI interferes and Shingo comes in to drop and dump SHO as the action spills outside.
The ringside beatdown continues between EVIL and Ishii. EVIL in with SHO and hits a slam for 2, and tags in Naito. BUSHI in as well with a missile dropkick and BUSHI-roonie, and Naito follows with Combinacion de Cabron and a neckbreaker. Tag to Shingo. BIG chop by Shingo and a BIG Saito for 2. They each try for suplexes, and end up trading shots. HUGE elbows by Shingo but SHO counters the Pumping Bomber and they both hit thudding lariats. Dropkick by SHO and a nice spear connects and both are down. Tags to Okada and SANADA, Okada with fast offense to start. Flapjack for BUSHI, knocks down Naito and takes out EVIL and SANADA as Okada stands tall. SANADA blocks the Air Raid Neckbreaker but Okada counters the Paradise Lock, SANADA misses the standing moonsault but lands a low dropkick to Okada’s back. TKO is blocked by Okada, as is Skull End into a rollup for 2. Shots traded. Nice dropkick by SANADA connects.
Tag to YOH and BUSHI, they trade, nice enziguris from both, rewind kick by BUSHI but a neckbreaker by YOH gets 2. R3K gets the double team on BUSHI, then Shingo, SHO takes down LIJ and they call for 3K. BUSHI counters and gets a double rana. Tag to Naito, YOH goes toe to toe and tags in HASHI. Running rana by HASHI, they block each others moves but HASHI gets a standing double stomp to the back and CHAOS attacks and surrounds Naito, getting a quadruple team and double knees from HASHI for 2. Shingo in to take out HASHI, but SHO drops him with a lariat. Everyone starts taking everyone else out, and HASHI drops Naito with a lariat for 2. BUSHI gets a Codebreaker and LIJ gets the numbers game on HASHI, Naito gets a cover but only gets 2. Destino connects, and thats the 3 count.
LIJ defeats CHAOS by pinfall after Destino
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a really fun match between 2 teams that consistently deliver against each other. LOVED the Ishii/EVIL stuff, and Shingo continues to look AMAZING even though the tension with SHO doesnt feel specific yet. Naito getting the win is good given the momentum I feel currently being built for him. Well done.
After the match, Shingo and SHO flare up. Tension between EVIL and Ishii as well as they throttle and slap each other and have to be separated.
IWGP United States Championship
BAD LUCK FALE vs JUICE ROBINSON (c)
Love Juice’s outfit. Fale attacks before the bell. Juice looks to slam Fale but cant do it and Fale slams Juice with ease. Juice gets dumped and Fale stays on him. Juice blocks a whip and sends Fale into the rail. Juice tries a slam on the outside but still cant do it, and Fale drives Juice back-first into the ringpost and slams him on the floor. Back inside Fale stands on Juice’s back and then tosses him to the floor again. Fale throws Juice into the crowd seating, and slams Juice onto the chairs. Fale back inside and the ref counts, and Juice barely makes the count. Fale keeps things slow, working over Juice’s back. Juice fights back but still cant slam Fale, and Fale takes control again. HUGE backdrop from Fale is followed by an elbow drop to the back, cover but Juice is out at 2. Juice fires back, looks for Pulp Friction but Fale powers out and crushes Juice. Juice tries to comeback with short corner lariats, a running lariat, and hits the cannonball but cant follow up due to the back.
Juice looks to fly but is slow to get up and Fale catches him, looks for Grenade but its blocked and Juice ALMOST slams Fale, but is able to clip the knee out instead. Left Hand From God is blocked, Juice looks to slam but Fale falls on him for a 2 count. Fale with a corner crush and big splash for 2. Jabs by Juice connects, Juice tries to use his size and speed to evade and hits a dropkick to stagger Fale. Juice hits the ropes but eats a big spear from Fale who hits the Grenade, covers but Juice is out at 2 and Fale is shocked. Fale calls for the Bad Luck Fall, Juice collapses which essentially blocks it, Fale hoists him up, Juice escapes and lands Left Hand From God hard. Juice looks to climb again, the crowd gets behind him and he lands the high cross body, fires up the crowd and hits another Left Hand From God and gets Fale up and slams him down to a pop. Juice follows with Pulp Friction, covers Fale and thats the 3 count and the win.
Juice Robinson defeats Bad Luck Fale to retain the IWGP US Title in his 3rd defense
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was fine, but the story of Juice’s back ended up taking Fale’s already slow pace and slowed things down even more, which made this match feel on the long side. But they were also dropped in nicely, and Juice continuing to establish his reign with the US title feels right.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
ZACK SABRE, JR. vs KOTA IBUSHI (c)
Big crowd response for Ibushi at the bell. ZSJ has a couple of submission wins over Ibushi. They grapple to start with ZSJ getting cocky, but Ibushi lays a kick in to the thigh. They work the mat, ZSJ stays on top of Ibushi and gets a 1 count, ZSJ and Ibushi trade holds and kicks with Ibushi getting the kick advantage. Back inside, lockup, ZSJ looks for the arm and gets a nice scissored Kimura but Ibushi finds the ropes. ZSJ works the arm, but Ibushi lands another stiff kick to break the grip. Rana by Ibushi sends ZSJ out, Ibushi fires up the crowd, ZSJ evades the dive but Ibushi sends him to the rail. ZSJ sends Ibushi over the rail but then pulls him back over by the neck with a headscissors. ZSJ puts Ibushi on the apron and cranks the neck, then headscissors him off the apron to the floor and stands tall in the ring. Ibushi back inside but ZSJ keeps on him. Nice head and arm suplex from ZSJ.
Ibushi tries to fight back but ZSJ keeps him grounded, getting a butterflied deathlock while tying up the arms, and then SHIFTS INTO A COVER but only gets 2. That was cool. Mocking kicks from ZSJ, Ibushi wakes up, they trade but ZSJ grounds Ibushi again. Ibushi lands a slam and kick to the back to escape but ZSJ is quick to catch him in an octopus-style hold, grinding him to the mat but Ibushi tumbles into the ropes. ZSJ keeps control and grounds Ibushi again, stepping on the back of Ibushi’s head while single-leg crabbing the leg and wrenches back. Ibushi makes the ropes again for a break. Ibushi lands a nice dropkick to change the momentum, sending ZSJ outside. Pescado by Ibushi connects. Back inside and Ibushi hits a spring missile dropkick to perfection and gets a powerslam and mid-rope moonsault but ZSJ counters the landing into a triangle hold. Ibushi tries to lift ZSJ to counter but cant lift him. ZSJ traps both arms in the hold but Ibushi uses the legs to get the ropes again.
Full nelson by ZSJ, Ibushi breaks it, nice flurry drops ZSJ. Ibushi evades a rollup into one of his own for 2, they trade rollups and 2 counts and a straightjacket hold, Ibushi gets the straight-jacket German with a bridge for 2. Ibushi looks for Kamigoye but ZSJ counters into a cover for 2 as ZSJ turns that into a Feel The Glow style submission that he locks on but good. ZSJ turns it into a bit of a Koji Clutch but Ibushi makes the ropes once more, but ZSJ wont break at the refs count and pushes the DQ. Running corner Euro by ZSJ lands, Ibushi blocks the PK but ZSJ gets an ankle lock, turns it into a bridging half-nelson suplex for 2. That was pretty. PK connects this time, cover but Ibushi is out at 2. Paintbrushes by ZSJ with his cockiness, then kicks to the chest, and Ibushi is glazed. Ibushi eats one and sits up fast, getting THAT LOOK IN HIS EYE. More cockiness from ZSJ, but Ibushi catches the kick, and ZSJ SLAPS IBUSHI. Ibushi calmly puts ZSJ’s foot down and just SLAPS THE SHIT out of ZSJ’s chest.
Ibushi now plays mockingly with ZSJ in the corner while looking utterly serious, and just keeps beating on ZSJ in the corner. Ref Red Shoes tries to pull Ibushi away but he just kicks at ZSJ backwards which is awesome and I want to see Ibushi do that more! Shot from ZSJ fires up Ibushi who fires right back and staggers ZSJ as Ibushi gets fully into the zone. They trade slaps in the corner but ZSJ suddenly fires back hard, but Ibushi answers right back with a huge lariat. Ibushi tries the Last Ride, ZSJ turns it into a triangle, Ibushi hoists him and hits the sitout powerbomb for 2. Ibushi tries Last Ride again but ZSJ hits the Zack Driver, but cant follow up. Another neck crank from ZSJ, but Ibushi is still alive and they trade on the ground. Ibushi gets the strike advantage and hits a great snap German and/or half and half suplex.
ZSJ on the apron, Ibushi steps on the middle rope and looks for the deadlift German, ZSJ reverses into a neckcrank in the ropes that gets broken up but Ibushi immediately hits a Pele! Ibushi gets to the corner and sets up Boma Ye, but misses and ZSJ gets a great bridging cradle for 2, then looks for the Japanese Clutch, Ibushi escapes and hits a HARD roundhouse kick to the head. Sit out Last Ride connects, Ibushi covers but only gets 2. Ibushi calls for Kamigoye but ZSJ counters into a flying octopus hold, but Ibushi counters into a variation of the GTS, and then lands the Kamigoye, covers and thats the 3 count.
Kota Ibushi defeats Zack Sabre Jr by pinfall after Kamigoye to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in his first defense
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
While this was my least favorite of their outings, this was nonetheless a truly great matchup between two great artists of the ring. Sabre is just magic to watch, and even if one could call his style slow it never feels that way, with his transition from move to move, his hybrid style and his amazing groundedness in the ring. Ibushi is coming into his own as a singles star, and it would not surprise me if Ibushi is seen as a future Ace of the company, especially after this match. His matching of ZSJ’s cockiness, and creativity with that, was awesome, his striking is insane, and he wears that belt so fucking well. I hope NJPW invests further in ZSJ, and Ibushi just signed a lifetime contract with them so there’s no question there. Great work from these two incredible performers.
After the match, Naito challenges Ibushi for the IC title. Ibushi tells Naito to Tranquilo, which was awesome, and accepts. I’m loving this Kota Ibushi SO. FUCKING. MUCH.
This was overall a solid as hell card, with every match being good and the main event being great. Ibushi is on his way to IWGP Title status soon, I feel that HARD. His character and how he lives in it is getting more and more sure and confident, Ibushi’s “zone” is becoming such a thing to look forward to in his matches, and ZSJ also once again shows that he warrants more investment from NJPW. Strong work all around.