NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2018 Report | 10/8/2018

Sorry about the delay on this! “Real life” needed my attention for a moment. Without further adieu…

New Japan Pro Wrestling presents
KING OF PRO WRESTLING 2018
October 8th, 2018

Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton are on commentary. We get our opening video package and then go straight to the first match…

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
TIGER MASK IV & JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER
vs
SUZUKI-GUN (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) (c)

The Junior Legends make their way down the ramp but Suzuki-Gun jump them before they even hit the ring because of course they do. Suzuki-Gun tosses them in the ring after some outside assaulting and the bell rings to get us underway. Both members of Suzuki-Gun go after the masks for the Legends, but the ref gets in between both. The action spills to the outside once again with Suzuki-Gun keeping in control. Desperado with a chairshot into a chair on top of Liger who was placed on a table. Kanemaru has Tiger down at ringside. Kanemaru back in the ring and the ref starts the countout. Tiger beats the count and Kanemaru keeps the pressure on. Tag to Desperado.

Big slam on Tiger and a cocky pin for 2. Double team in the Suzuki-Gun corner and Kanemaru is back in. Boots to Tiger followed by a camel clutch, as Desperado keeps Liger from interrupting. Tag to Desperado and Tiger has been isolated. Desperado tears at the mask again and the ref pulls him off, Desperado gets in the refs face and thats the moment Tiger needed to fight back going for Desperado’s mask before Kanemaru intervenes, allowing Suzuki-Gun to get the advantage back. Tiger fights off both opponents and gets the tag to Liger.

SHOTEI! to Suzuki-Gun, Kanemaru placed up top and taken down with a Frankensteiner! Liger catches Kanemaru with a nice rollup for 2, follows up with a Fujiwara amrbar but Desperado breaks it up. Liger takes Desperado out with a tilt a whirl backbreaker. Tag to Tiger, powerbomb by Liger and Tiger comes off the top with a headbutt, covers but only 2. Tiger with kicks, Kanemaru hits a variation of Eye of the Hurricane to get momentum back. Tag to Desperado who crushes Tiger in the corner and hits a nice suplex, hits the ropes and spears Tiger for a 2 count before Liger breaks it up. Liger stays on Desperado but gets caught in a double team from Suzuki-Gun. Desperado looks to finish, Tiger fights him off and hits a Tiger Driver! Covers, but only 2 before Desperado kicks out.

Tiger puts Desperado up top, Desperado goes for the mask again but Tiger just slaps him, and hits a double underhook superplex, but Kanemaru distracts the ref by bringing the whiskey bottle into the ring to break the cover. Kanemaru spits whiskey in the eyes of Tiger, hits an enziguri, Desperado looks to finish Tiger, Liger in but gets shoved into the ref who goes down, Kanemaru runs at Liger but gets dumped and eats the outside rolling senton from Liger! Desperado goes for a belt shot on Tiger but Tiger counters, hits Tiger Suplex but there is no ref! He had him for 3, but no one to count. Liger tries to wake the ref but Kanemaru with the bottle, Tiger tries to fight back but catches a low blow from Desperado, Desperado with Pinche Loco, the ref is awake now and counts the 3 and the WIN for Suzuki-Gun.

Suzuki-Gun defeats Tiger Mask IV and Jushin Liger by pinfall to retain the IWGP Junior Tag Titles after shenanigans and Pinche Loco
Jay’s Rating: 2.75 out of 5

This was a nice little showcase for the Junior Legends, who fought back against the early dirty tactics to almost take the titles, and had me wondering if they might get another run. But Suzuki-Gun shenanigans win out in the end with their usual shtick, but it felt decently utilized here to give us a decent opener for the event. The fact that Tiger and Liger can still bring some real electricity out of the crowd is awesome. I’m not sure where this Suzuki-Gun run is leading, only because I do feel like most of their stuff right now is some permutation of the same stuff, which is starting to make their rein just a bit flat to me. Their defenses arent really exciting me right now, because I’ve got a sense of where its going. Would love to see a real breakout match, whether they retain or not, to spice up the title run, because Kanemaru and Desperado are capable of it.

JUICE ROBINSON & TOA HENARE vs GREAT BASH HEEL

This is the first match back as a team for GBH after Honma’s injury. GBH looks all business. Chants for “Honma” – great to see him back. Bell rings, Honma and Henare start us off. Headlock on Henare, shoulder blocks are even. Henare shows aggression, and takes down Honma with a tackle. Slam to Honma, covers but only 1. Honma gets momentum back in the corner with some chops, headbutt to Henare, and a chop knocks Henare down. Honma with a slam and calls for a falling Kokeshi but Henare moves because of course he does. Tag to Juice who comes off the top onto Honma. Juice with a stalling vertical suplex on Honma, covers, but only 2. The crowd is so happy to see Honma back. Henare in, talks trash to Honma who fights back, absorbs a heavy lariat from Henare and almost gets the reversal to a suplex, Henare tries to counter, both try to overpower with Honma getting it in the end!

Tags on both sides and Makabe takes down Juice. Makabe with classic clothesline/corner punches/Northern Lights but Juice blocks the final part and hits the ropes but eats a lariat for 2. Makabe whips Juice to the corner, Juice tries to build momentum, crushes Makabe in the corner and calls for the cannonball and hits a great one. Full nelson bomb on Makabe for 2. Juice with a shot to Honma, and is able to get the crowd behind the series of jabs, but Makabe ducks at the end and hits another lariat. Tag to Honma who chops Juice, corner elbow and big bulldog takes him down, and hits the falling Kokeshi! HE GOT ONE! Juice back with a chop, Honma reverses and hits a nice lariat on Juice but Henare breaks it up. Makabe dumps Henare, but gets turned inside out on the floor.

Honma goes up top against Juice, but Juice throws him off back into the ring. Juice rolls and tags Henare who hits shots on Honma, a shot on Makabe, hits the ropes and nails a heavy lariat but only gets 2 on Honma. More chants for Honma. Henare taking a lot of time here, allowing Honma to fight off the finisher, and hits a running Kokeshi on Henare! Tag to Makabe, Henare tries to keep the advantage with a diving shoulder tackle, hits the rugby tackle spear and covers but Honma breaks it up. Juice takes Honma outside as Makabe absorbs a Henare clothesline before taking Henare down with a HEAVY lariat, covers but Henare out at 1! FIGHTING SPIRIT. Makabe and Honma in together and hit a sandwich double lariat, a slam and a Kokeshi, and then the King Kong Kneedrop, Honma intercepts Juice as Makabe covers for 3 and the WIN!

GBH defeats Juice Robinson and Toa Henare by pinfall after a double team and the King Kong Knee Drop
Jay’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Not a bad match by any means, with a crowd invested in Honma’s return. But it was also a bit flat for me – the layout made sense, but it sort of stayed at one pace throughout so I never really felt any sense of build. Plus, I am concerned about how Juice is being used as he eats another loss and just seems to be fading into the background a little bit – not seriously YET, but its got my ears perked up. At the same time, Honma gets an important win in his return stretch, which is great, and he and Makabe looked tuned in. But why did Juice have to be on that team then? That’s the choice I question, and that and the flatness of it kept it from going higher for me. Again, not bad, but without the Honma story/GBH return, I dont think I would have cared as much.

BULLET CLUB ELITE (Young Bucks, Hangman Page & Chase Owens)
vs
BULLET CLUB OGz (Guerillas of Desiny, Bad Luck Fale & Taiji Ishimori)

This is an 8-man tag as part of the current Civil War within BC, with Owens and Loa starting off. They run the ropes early, Chase Owens showing a speed advantage but Loa catches a kneeling superkick and looks for Apeshit early, Owens with a rollup for 2 and looks for the Package Piledriver but Loa wriggles out. Tags to Nick Jackson and Ishimori. They start fast, lots of jumps and leapfrogs and 1 counts, a double dropkick and a staredown. Tama in and the ring fulls up with all 8, tempers rise and the brawl begins. BC OGz on top, but the Elite with dropkicks that take all the OGz down and to the outside. Ishimori is rolled back in and Matt comes in. Bucks with a double team pancake cutter, OGz knocked down to the floor again and the Elite takes the fight to them. Nick up top and hits a diving rolling senton onto the group, Matt looks to dive but Loa picks the leg and focuses on Matt’s taped back with a slam outside. The OGz get the advantage outside. Ishimori back in and covers Matt for 2.

Ishimori goes for the injured back and tags in Tama. Tama takes the weight belt off of Matt and throws it away, and lays boots into the back and a big jumping elbow as well. Tag to Fale whos in for a double team. Fale pushes down Nick and keeps on Matt’s back, Ishimori hold Matt and Fale rips the tape off of the back and just stands full weight on Matt. The OGz have slowed down the match as Loa in, quick tag to Tama who crushes Matt in the corner. Tama keeps the Elite off the apron and goes back to the back. Loa in to double team, Matt evades and hits a superkick on Loa, but the injury slows him down allowing Tama to fight back, but Matt hits a HUGE spear and gets the tag to Page! Ishimori in as well, but Page dominates him. Loa in and looks for Apeshit but eats a rolling elbow, Page on both Loa and Ishimori and looks for a German on Loa. Loa fights him off and Ishimori back in, but Page takes them out with the drop-sault combo, cover for 2. Fale but Page avoids him, and he and Chase are able to dump Fale outside. Page goes up, and takes down all but Tama with a HUGE moonsault to the floor!

Page tosses Ishimori back in and tags in Owens, the Elite in and get the quadruple team on Ishimori, Buckle Bomb/double enziguri in the corner and a big Owens slignshot backbreaker, cover but only 2 as Ishimori kicks out! Ishimori fights back but botches it a bit, but gets a tag to Tama. Owens avoids the offense allowing Page to get the Buckshot Lariat before eating a suplex from Loa. Loa with a shot on Owens but Owens is able to reverse. Fale takes out Owens and catches Nick Jackson but eats double superkicks from the Bucks, who take a double hurricanrana from Ishimori who then takes both out at ringside with a twisting plancha. In the ring, Owens counters a gun stun into a rollup for 2, looks for the piledriver, Loa in but Owens fights him off, hits a HUGE knee on Loa which looked GREAT. Looks for the piledriver on Loa but Loa fights him off and sets up him for Tama with a 3D-style Gun Stun, covers for 3 and the WIN.

BC OGz defeat BC Elite by pinfall after an assisted Gun Stun
Jay’s Rating: 3 out of 5

This was a decent match to continue the Civil War story, with the OGz continuing to have the upper hand, which is very smart storytelling right now. I may think they overused their dirty tactics early on in the breakaway, but they are also evolving into a legitimately dominant faction of their own, especially following the clean title win over the Bucks which this win only built upon. I do think the ending was a bit flat, not in terms of the booking but something didnt quite click for me with it, almost like it felt just a touch abrupt. But it did its job well enough. And Owens continues to be a breakout in-ring competitor of the year for me in NJPW. He is REALLY GOOD. His flurry near the end was executed in just stellar fashion, his speed and striking are solid as hell, and he consistently delivers electricity in the ring. I dont know where they could take Owens, as he still feels like his on-screen shtick makes most sense in a supporting role, but I want to find SOMETHING more for him, because with the right angle to support his ring work, he’s a star.

After the match, the OGz beat down the Elite.

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay)
vs
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Takashi Iizuka)

There are a couple stories at play here – specifically, Suzuki/Ishii with a RevPro Heavyweight Title match coming up, Goto/Taichi with the recent NEVER Title change, and Will Ospreay fully in the heavyweight division or so it seems! (Oh and Iizuka is wearing a mouthguard mask to stop him from biting people…. ha.) And of course, Suzuki-Gun attacks before the bell. Iizuka and Goto start off in the ring. Goto turns the tables and hits a suplex on Taichi onto Iizuka. Everyone starts coming in now, and the ring action is fast and furious with both teams getting offense in on each other including some really nice spots, including a wonderful triple team ending with a standing shooting star by Ospreay (CORE STRENGTH).

The action continues into Goto and Iizuka at it again, until Suzuki grabs the arm and gets the over the rope armbar on Goto. Goto to the outside is getting taken out by Iizuka, as Suzuki smashes Ishii with a chair in the audience area. The action is chaotic and EVERYWHERE, except the ring. No one is in the ring at this point. This is a mugging. The ref finally starts the countout, and Goto BARELY makes it back in. Taichi chokes Goto in the corner, and dumps him back outside. Suzuki unmasks Iizuka and he starts biting Goto! WHAT A WILDMAN. Goto is back in as is toothed Iizuka, who BITES SOME MORE. And then he goes and BITES ISHII TOO. Oh and OSPREAY TOO. All of the biting, as Suzuki keeps Goto down in his corner. And MORE FOR GOTO. And IIZUKA GOES FOR TIGER HITORI. WHAT A WILDMAN who tags in Suzuki. (Ok, Iizuka cant sustain a match – I’ve seen him try – but goddamn it I find him funny as hell while still making sense as part of Suzuki-Gun. He is SO COMMITTED to this character and I cant help but respect that from a creative standpoint.)

Suzuki with a SICK kick to Goto’s back. Keeps laying in kicks. THICK kick to the chest of Goto, and another, and another, Goto eats them all until one finally wears him down. Goto back with chops though but Suzuki counters, Goto reverses and almost hits a suplex, Suzuki out of that, but Goto counters again and hits a suplex and Goto tags in Ishii! Ishii CRUSHES Suzuki in the corner, eats a Suzuki forearm and boot but COMES BACK, and then THE TRADING BEGINS and the crowd is fully into it. OH MY GOD THESE TWO. Suzuki eats them all and says “Come on come on!”. Ishii obliges and Suzuki is down on his knee, and ISHII PAINTBRUSHES HIM WITH TOE KICKS. OH MY GOD THESE TWO. The crowd is on fire. Suzuki is PISSED. OH MY GOD SUZUKI THAT LOOK. He SLAPS THE SHIT OUT OF ISHII. THE SHIT. IS OUT OF ISHII. And another forewarm. And another. The SMACK of them. Ishii is on his knees beneath The King. But another one WAKES UP ISHII who fires back, looks for a suplex but Suzuki gets a guilotine and looks for the Gotch, Ishii out of it, both men trade fast moving shots and they are BOTH DOWN. Thats one of my favorite exchanges I’ve seen in some time.

Tags to Ospreay and Taichi! Ospreay springboards and takes out Taichi with Pip Pip Cheerio, shots to Taichi and hits the handspring head kick and covers for 2. Taichi evades and hits Ospreay with a big kick, and the triple team begins on Ospreay. Iizuka chokes with a rope and Taichi hits an axe bomber for 2 but it gets broken up. Taichi’s pants go flying and he looks for the kick, Ospreay catches the foot thought. Taichi counters and looks for Last Ride, but Ospreay out and hits the flip kick and enziguri. Suzuki and Iizuka in with boots. Iizuka goes for the iron glove, but Tiger stops him as Taichi looks for a belt shot on Ospreay, but Ospreay catches him coming with a standing Spanish Fly. Goto with Ushigoroshi on Iizuka, tells Ospreay to get Taichi, he hits the wraparound superkick an lands Stormbreaker on Taichi and covers him for 3 and the WIN over the reigning NEVER Openweight Champion!

CHAOS defeats SUZUKI-GUN by pinfall after Stormbreaker, earning Ospreay a title shot as he got the fall over the NEVER Champion
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5

OK. I know there are some who will feel I’m being generous here. But I just thought they plotted out the story of this match really goddamned well. And in a way, invested in the LEAST established story of the several presented, which I think was brilliant from a storytelling point of view. Suzuki/Ishii seemed like the focus, with the opening standoff with the RevPro belt held high taking the center spotlight before the as-expected attack. They also had the existing issues between Goto and Taichi on the table. The story off the to the side was Ospreay’s apparent weight class graduation (I mean the NEVER title is called “Openweight”, but especially with the use of Stormbreaker it feels like they are using this to transition him up). It was nowhere near the spotlight here, and the creative team (and clearly with his CHAOS teammates in FULL support) chose to say, hey, this is what’s next. And goddammit has Ospreay earned it – the dude is an utter superstar. I share the worries of many in terms of his overall longevity, which may also account for the shift to heavy and perhaps an upcoming evolution of style (which could be smart). But regardless I maintain that Ospreay is one of the best in-ring storytellers working today, and thus for me the choice made here feels brilliantly timed and really well-executed, with a ton of emotion driving it from all sides. Ospreay was made central in a moment when CHAOS is in, well, chaos… ahem… following the Jay White turn and exit, and Ishii/Suzuki became “meanwhile” for just a moment. I cant help it. I loved the storytelling here. The layout worked well to deliver a great moment. Well done.

After the match, Ospreay makes the challenge while Suzuki grabs a chair and is restrained by Young Boys. He looks at them… and starts the abuse and hits the chair shot on one of them!

VIDEO PACKAGE: Los Ingobernables de Japon gets a new member?

We get a Los Ingobernables video package, addressing Hiromu Takahashi’s injury and need to relinquish the Junior Heavyweight title, and announcing a new member who will debuting tonight.

LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & ???)
vs
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano & Roppongi 3K)

LIJ is out first, with the newest member saved for last, Naito takes the mic and the crowd is on fire for him. He says everyone is excited to see the newest member. He says its MILANO COLECTION AT! Milano says its not him. Naito then says, he’s going to come out right now! We get new music… a video that says “The Dragon”… a man that then comes out in an LIJ hoodie and the silver mask… and he walks around the ring… (I dont know, this is starting to get a little long)… the announcer is told… the mask comes off… and its SHINGO TAKAGI. Very interesting choice, pulling from Dragon Gate and bringing the “Dragon” name along. CHAOS is out next. Okada HITS ROCKY WITH THE BALLOON AGAIN! Rocky: “Why did he do that?!” We hear about the connection through trainer Animal Hamaguchi between Shingo and other members of LIJ. The bell rings and YOH and Shingo start us off. Chants for Shingo. Shingo shows his power to begin. Absorbs chops from YOH and delivers a HUGE one of his own. Takes down YOH with a tackle. Catches YOH coming in, YOH out of it, Shingo reverses but Roppongi 3K able to hit some double team. This brings BUSHI in, who allows LIJ to get a team advantage over CHAOS. SANADA gets Yano in a Paradise Lock in the ropes as Shingo chokes YOH in the corner. Shingo with a FAST vertical suplex, covers YOH but only gets 2.

Tag to SANADA, keeps the pressure on YOH. YOH tries to fight back but SANADA gets him in the Paradise Lock in front of Yano (who is still tied up), and dropkicks YOH in the butt which pushes him into Yano freeing them both because thats how it works. BUSHI in and keeps the pressure on YOH. Tag to Naito, who holds YOH for BUSHI to hit a dropkick and BUSH-a-roonie, but YOH fights back and gets a dragon screw on Naito and another on BUSHI. YOH tags Okada who comes in hot. DDT on Naito with a kip up. Naito fights back but eats a flapjack from Okada, covers Naito but only gets 2. Okada lifts Naito for the Air Raid Neckbreaker but Naito fights out and lands the over the top corner seated dropkick. Naito keeps on Okada, and lands a double team sliding dropkick with BUSHI and covers for 2.

Naito looks for Gloria, but Okada is out, but eats a Naito enziguri before hitting The Dropkick on Naito. Looks for Rainmaker, but Naito reverse into a Destino attempt, but Okada holds him, hits a European uppercut but Naito comes back with a flying forearm. Okada tags SHO who is in with BUSHI, they start fast and SHO hits a BIG spear. YOH joins and they hit a backstabber/single leg dropkick combo, and call for 3K. BUSHI fights out and hits YOH with a DDT, and gets Shingo in. Shingo with a corner clothesline on SHO, SHO fights back but Shingo gets him up into a Gory Bomb, covers but only 2. Takagi gets him up but Yano intervenes, SANADA takes out Yano, Okada in for SANADA, but SANADA and Naito take out Okada. Shingo with a big Pumping Bomber lariat on SHO, pumps up the crowd and hits Last Falconry for the 3 count and the WIN for LIJ.

LIJ defeats CHAOS by pinfall after Last Falconry
Jay’s Rating: 3.25 out of 5

That was a pretty great little 8-man tag, with a great sense of urgency and focus from both teams, and with the mystery member and the… yeah I have to do it again… chaos of CHAOS keeping them off their game enough for LIJ to pull out a nice win. Shingo looks fantastic in his debut, carrying himself with the confidence of someone who has been doing this for a while and knows his shit. I’m not sure what they are doing with him yet – when Takahashi debuted the “Time Bomb” idea was so firmly in place, and I’m unsure of what the plan was prior to Hiromu’s injury but this definitely felt a bit rushed from the character standpoint. It just makes him stand out compared to, well, every other member of LIJ. But from an in-ring perspective and on his own merits, Shingo came out looking extremely good, delivering great action. And I like the idea of Okada’s team falling with Ospreay rising… I dont know if that will end up meaning anything, but given the history between Okada and Ospreay as well, its got me curious. And honestly, after the dominance of CHAOS particularly through Okada’s title reign, boosting the BC story and LIJ feels refreshing in some ways.

LIJ hits the pose with Shingo after the match.

ZACK SABRE, JR. vs EVIL

Sabre comes out looking like a cocky dick, with Taka doing the intro. I adore ZSJ as a human being, but dammit does he make a great cocky heel. EVIL comes out on a throne pulled by masked druids. EVIL goes to get into the ring but one of the druids pulls him off the apron, starts laying into him at ringside… and we see that the druid is wearing the IWGP Intercontinental Title Belt! ITS CHRIS JERICHO! HE’S BACK. EVIL is back in the ring and Jericho continues the assault, hitting EVIL with a big lariat and a Codebreaker before finally removing the mask and revealing himself! Jericho hits a big belt shot on EVIL and holds the IC belt high. He stands over EVIL with the belt before leaving, shooting a final sinister smile back toward the heap that was once EVIL left in the ring.

ZSJ vs EVIL is a NO CONTEST
Jay’s Rating: NOT RATED

After the mugging, Sabre makes like he wants the match anyway. He’s ready to go. But the ref and trainers are in the ring assessing EVIL. The ref makes the official call for a No Contest rather than a forfeit, and Sabre slaps a Kimura on him as punishment. Sabre with boots to the fallen EVIL and works over his arm with the hammerlock fujiwara with the leg. The bell rings but nothing happens until Naito runs in to save the day, slugging it out with ZSJ. Naito with the big swinging DDT on ZSJ before hitting the Tranquilo pose. Sabre is LIVID and talks shit before leaving. EVIL is helped to the back.

No match to rate here. This was about setting up EVIL/Jericho for the IC belt, and setting Naito and ZSJ on a collision course (which I am SUPER excited about). This was a rare No Contest, but that actually made it feel fresh, ZSJ’s reaction was fantastic and set up a great showdown with Naito, I felt like the story was told well, changed up the pace of the card going into the home stretch, the crowd was with the storytelling, and it pulled off its job well and with aggression.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
MARTY SCURLL vs KUSHIDA

Scurll out first. The announcers mention how Scurll defeated Ospreay and referencing their history and Scurll’s win record in that rivalry, but noting how Scurll has never beaten KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA out next, looking for his 6th reign. Split crowd, with lots of “Woop Woop”s for Scurll. Scurll is earning a lot of respect in his NJPW tenure. Bell rings and they start feeling each other out. They lock up, KUSHIDA with the arm, Scurll with some gorgeous counterwrestling to take the arm, KUSHIDA with rolls staying out of the grip of Scurll and showing some nice Ace confidence. Stand off. Back at it, Scurll with a headlock, KUSHIDA getting out of it with some amatuer stylings, front facelock on Scurll, Scurll reverses back to the headlock and a tackle moves no one. Another, same. They run the ropes and KUSHIDA hits a hiptoss into an armbar but Scurll transitions into a rollup for 2. Lots of rollup countering with no one even getting a 1 until KUSHIDA gets one for 2. Great work by both there.

Hard shots from Scurll gets KUSHIDA outside and he nails the apron superkick and Scurll has a seat on the apron. Scurll goes outside keeping the pace slow and hits a hard chop. And another. KUSHIDA rolls back in and Scurll follows, evades a KUSHIDA kick and looks for a Romero, gets the wrists and rocks him, gets him into the full Romero Special. KUSHIDA reaches for the ropes but Scurll keeps wrist control, until KUSHIDA gets it with the other hand and Scurll breaks. Scurll in firm control, chants for him from the crowd. Scurll with more shots, but KUSHIDA counters with a big DDT but cant follow up. Both back up and KUSHIDA comes in hot and hits the cartwheel dropkick, with some of the crowd rallying for KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA looked to stay on the arm, Scurll tries to counter but eats a gamengiri. KUSHIDA climbs up top, Scurll cuts him off, climbs and looks for a top rope superplex and hits it but KUSHIDA transitions to a small package for a quick 2 before eating a seated superkick from Scurll. Scurll with a chop that gets KUSHIDA to his knees, KUSHIDA fights back but eats a rolling elbow, rollups by each for 2, back and forth with rollups and a CLOSE ONE that KUSHIDA barely escapes. KUSHIDA with kicks to the arm, but gets caught into a kneeling superkick from Scurll.

Scurll slows it down again. Scurll with hard knees, but KUSHIDA returns the favor, they trade cravate knees, both hit forearms but KUSHIDA hits a pele, Scurll with a rebound lariat and they chop each other down with lariats and right hands and they are both down. The double count starts but they are up at 7, uppercut to KUSHIDA but a cartwheel kick lands on Scurll, Scurll outside and KUSHIDA goes up top. Scurll cuts him off, and both are in the corner. KUSHIDA looks at the arm again, and comes off the top with a Diablo Armbar! KUSHIDA gets it extended but Scurll fights out enough to get KUSHIDA under the bottom rope and slingshots his throat into it. SMART. KUSHIDA is able to slam Scurll face first into the corner pad, rolls him through for Back to the Future, but Scurll counters into the CHICKENWING CROSSFACE with the fingers locked! KUSHIDA is fading! KUSHIDA wakes up though and rolls through and looks for his own Chickenwing but Scurll gets his own double wristlock, KUSHIDA tries to counter it brilliantly by locking his hands. KUSHIDA out of it looks for the satellite DDT, Scurll looks for Chickenwing but transitions it into a half and half suplex dumping KUSHIDA!

Scurll looks for Graduation, cant get it, looks for a package piledriver instead but KUSHIDA counters with an Air Raid Crash! “Lets Go Marty” chants are blowing me away. KUSHIDA looks for Back to the Future but Marty gets out and stomps the hand, KUSHIDA looks to counter into the Hoverboard lock but he cant grip it becuase of Scurll attacking the hand! KUSHIDA kicks Scurll’s arm, looks for Back to the Future but its reversed into a package for 2, Scurll follows up with a heavy powerbomb, covers for 2, right into a PACKAGE BRAINBUSTER WHAT THE HELL! Covers, but KUSHIDA kicks out at 2! Scurll calls for a lariat and NAILS it. Picks up KUSHIDA for Graduation, KUSHIDA out, but Scurll rolls through looking for Chickenwing, KUSHIDA lifts him into a Back to the Future out of a fireman’s carry and rolls that through into Back to the Future and grabs the leg for the 3 and the WIN and the Championship!

KUSHIDA defeats Marty Scurll by pinfall to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the 6th Time after Back to the Future
Jay’s Rating: 4 out of 5

This was an outstanding championship match. Both KUSHIDA and Scurll looked great, and the choice to further establish KUSHIDA as the Ace made a lot of sense here. Both competitors told a smart and engaged story, beautifully paced with Scurll bringing it down only to be able to go full speed with KUSHIDA when needed. While I agree with the choice here, I also commend Scurll’s performance and layout here. Scurll knows how to deliver, any weight class, any match type, technical or fast paced or character-driven, he’s just one of the most all-around talents out there right now. But KUSHIDA’s legacy grows – there’s a part of me that wants him to keep on top such that he challenges for Liger’s record. Honestly, I think he could do it, I think he could keep it interesting, and I think if there is any junior talent who deserves to sit up at the top next to Liger in terms of legacy, its KUSHIDA. He too is one who just knows how to deliver, who evolves his style, who can go on any scale. This was a great showcase not only for them, but for the Junior belt following Takahashi’s unfortunate injury, which is also why it made sense to give it to an anchor player like KUSHIDA. Great work all around.

Tokyo Dome IWGP Title Shot Contract
JAY WHITE vs HIROSHI TANAHASHI (Contract Holder)

White is out first. He’s wearing red leather with black accents, which gets an acknowledgement as perhaps a comment back to former CHAOS leader and current WWE cock-punch master Shinsuke Nakamura. (Sorry, I adore Nakamura but have issues with his main roster booking, but thats a different company and not why we are here.) Tanahashi out next with the briefcase. This Tanahashi resurgence has been well-handled by all, though I will say I’m starting to have a little bit of a Cena-feeling about him and am eager for a couple more changes to the world title picture soon. While Tanahashi is in the ring it seems like Jay is fucking with Rocky again. The contract that is on the line is presented, Jay comes into the ring and we have the bell, and Jay immediately goes back outside. He’s taking pieces of the Kevin Owens playbook, and I like it. They are in and lock up, and Jay gets Tanahashi to the ropes and breaks before Gedo grabs the leg allowing Jay to get control. Tanahashi to the outside where Jay lays into him. Tanahashi with a reversal though, whips Jay into the barricade and then dropkicks him over it.

Gedo tries to interfere, but Tanahashi chases him into the ring allowing Jay to chop block him at the knee from behind. Jay keeps working on the previously injured knee of Tanahashi, including mocking the guitar pose using the leg. Jay slams the knee against the apron and works it over standing outside, before wrapping it around the ringpost. Gedo then gets in a shot at the knee with the briefcase, and the crowd is HATING him. Jay covers in the ring but the ref wont count – referee’s discretion, well-used. Tanahashi tries to fight off Jay as the crowd chants for him, gets dumped but looks to skin the cat, Gedo interrupts and Jay is able to go back to the knee. Jay keeps the pressure on with Tanahashi tied up in the ropes, pushing the rules and continuing the assault on the knee. “Go Ace” chants. Jay talks shit at Tanahashi, paintbrushing him and showing no respect for him. Tanahashi mounts some offense but Jay cuts it off, but misses in the corner and Tanahashi hits a Dragon Screw.

Shots from Tanahashi, climbs to the middle rope and hits the somersault senton, covers but only 2. Tanahashi hits a grounded dragon screw and looks for the Cloverleaf, Jay fights for the ropes and gets them just as Tanahashi turns him over. Jay fights him off, going for the knee hard, and then dumps Tanahashi with a Saito Suplex over the top rope to the floor. (The execution of that was perfect on every level, including big picture safety. Well done.) Jay tosses Tanahashi back in the ring and looks underneath and pulls out a chair. He brings it into the ring but the ref threatens the DQ, which allows Tanahashi to snatch the leg and hit a dragon screw over the middle rope! Jay is on the floor and Tanahashi goes up top and hits a High Fly Flow cross body from the top onto Jay!

Tanahashi back in but absorbs chops from Jay before eating a flatliner into a deadlift German suplex! Jay gets in Tanahashi’s face, GREAT look in his eyes, lays in a forearm that gets returned by Tanahashi. Back and forth, nice strike exchange, Tanahashi calls for Sling Blade but Jay looks to turn it into Blade Runner, Tanahashi out leads to an intense series of reversals out of big moves resulting in a wrist clutch and forearm shots. Jay gets the advantage but Tanahashi comes back with Twist and Shout, holds onto it and hits a 2nd one, holds on again but Jay with a twisting vertical suplex to stop the momentum. Tanahashi pulls out a 3rd Twist and Shout and lands Sling Blade, Gedo pops up but is sent down, Jay goes for Blade Runner but its reversed into a Dragon Suplex for 2.

Tanahashi up top, Jay rising, Tanahashi hits the High Fly Flow cross body, goes back up top, hits High Fly Flow, but Gedo pulls the ref out at 2! Rocky is SO PISSED AT GEDO! Gedo has knucks and is looking to use them against Tanahashi who ducks and takes down Gedo, but Jay comes behind with the low blow! Jay looks for the chair shot… but TANAHASHI HITS A LOW BLOW OF HIS OWN! Rocky: “Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do!” Tanahashi slams Jay onto the chair and heads up top, the crowd is cheering, he jumps but lands on nothing but chair with High Fly Flow! Jay is up and pie faces Tanahashi with the chair, just chucking it at him! Jay calls for Gedo to revive the ref, he picks up Tanahashi for Blade Runner, but Tanahashi with the inside cradle for the 3 count and the WIN!

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Jay White by pinfall to retain the Tokyo Dome IWGP Title Shot Contract after a small package
Jay’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5

After the match Jay White loses it, going after Tanahashi and taking out the Young Lions who try to help, further attacking the knee. He looks for Blade Runner but Okada in to save Tanahashi as the crowd explodes!!! Chants for Okada fill the arena. Jay attacks again but Okada fights him back. Okada and Gedo square off and he takes down Gedo! Okada looks to tombstone him, but Jado in to interrupt, tries to calm things down and play peacemaker. Jado backs Okada up, wearing an Okada t-shit… when out comes the BC OGz… what is going on? They are in the ring, everyone is standing off, no one quite knows whats up, BC OGz point at Okada, they hold onto Gedo and Jado and ask Okada to choose – are they recruiting Okada? BUT NO AS TAMA HITS GUN STUN ON OKADA! They stand over him and Gedo and Jado join in a beatdown on Okada. Jay White is now being invited in the ring, he calls for Blade Runner and turns the taunt into a “2 Sweet” as he hits it on Okada. And Jay White and Gedo are officially part of BC OGz!

This was a FANTASTIC match, followed by a great post-match development. I know some may knock the shenanigans and it certainly feels like more like American booking in some ways, but at the end of the day, Jay White is the Switchblade and it makes sense in context, specifically because Jay White continues to lock in more and more with this character. It fits him SO WELL, he is so anchored in it, and his in ring work has improved so much in its specificity that it totally works. I continue to feel like a Triple H-in-his-main-event-prime feel from him and that for me is a very good thing. Tanahashi also looked great, and continues his path to January 4th. I love the aggression we got to see from Tanahashi, what he was willing to do to win, telling me a story of a veteran doing what he must in order to not fade into the background of an ever growing new generation of up and coming talent. If youre going to put a vet like Tanahashi back into the main event picture, other companies could take a lesson from how Tanahashi and co have been handling it. I also dug the nearfalls, including the shenanigans-based ones, as I kept feeling like I saw the end happening and it genuinely kept me interested each time it was cut off, leading to a wonderfully utilized surprise win that left Jay with enough energy for the beatdown that led to the big development. The dominoes just worked. Great job all around.

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
KOTA IBUSHI vs CODY RHODES vs KENNY OMEGA (c)

This is only the 3rd time (I think I might have said 2nd time in an earlier coverage, apologies) the title has been defended under 3-way rules. The last time was back in May of 2014 in the United States, the first time was in Japan 13 years ago to the day. COOL. The Bucks are out to corner Omega. Omega and Cody hug, Omega and Ibushi hug, and also Ibushi and Cody hug. The bell rings and everyone takes a feeling out stance. Cody dumps Ibushi and goes for Omega, who he takes down with a tackle. Drop down uppercut from Cody to Omega, and Omega out and Ibushi in. They lock up, Cody takes down Ibushi as well but Ibushi kips up and lands a great dropkick. Cody and Omega both outside, and Ibushi looks for Golden Triangle but Omega cuts him off, allowing Cody to take both down from behind. Golden Lovers double team into a Kotaro Krusher with Ibushi covering, but Omega pulls him off to cover himself, but Ibushi pulls him off. Omega then offers Ibushi the cover, but he only gets 2. The tension has started. Cody fights back, dumping Ibushi and hitting a release vertical suplex for 2 on Omega. Cody then heads outside and lands a gourdbuster on Ibushi to keep him down. Cody back in but takes shots from Omega, Cody counters with a knee and covers for a 1 on Omega. Cody back outside on Ibushi but Ibushi fights back before Cody dumps him INTO THE AUDIENCE over the barricade!

Cody returns to the ring and its Omega and Cody in the ring. Omega puts Cody in the corner, Cody reverses and hits a back body drop on Omega for 2. Ibushi is holding the knee, still down outside. Cody springs but Omega ducks and hits a rana, Cody to the outside and we get the Rise of the Terminator pose, runs the ropes and takes Cody out with a GREAT dive! Ibushi back in the ring with Omega on Cody, Omega goes for You Cant Escape with an Ibushi standing shooting star in the middle, but Cody moves for the moonsault so Omega lands on his feet while Ibushi hops up for his moonsault, but Omega goes behind Ibushi to get him up for One Winged Angel, WILL HE DO IT? But Ibushi escapes and we get a standoff with an interesting bit of eye contact, as Cody watches. Cody tries to pick his moment, but Ibushi fights him off and Omega hits a shot on Ibushi. Lots of fast counters, Cody slams Omega but Ibushi slams Cody and hits the 2nd rope moonsault but Cody is out at 2.

Ibushi picks up Cody, Cody fights him off as well as Omega, Cody tries to partner with Omega against Ibushi, they look for a double suplex but Cody BRILLIANTLY sneaks in a rollup on Omega for 2! Applause from the crowd. Tempers flare and they trade shots. Superkick from Cody, chop from Omega, Omega looks for the Dragon but Cody gets the Figure Four. They trade seated shots, Ibushi back in and puts boots to Omega but Omega snags an ankle lock, Ibushi out and kicks down Cody before hitting a standing moonsault on Omega and covers but Cody breaks the hold to break it up. Omega nurses the knee as Ibushi puts Cody in the corner. Cody up and over, but Ibushi counters to a standing moonsault, Cody with the knees up, Omega back up with a snap dragon suplex on Cody and turns to Ibushi. Omega hits Aoi Shoudou and ducks a Beautiful Disaster to hit a snap dragon on Cody. Omega calls for V-Trigger but eats a dropkick from Ibushi, who eats one himself from Cody, while Omega heads outside. Cody picks up Ibushi and drops him with a hammerlock DDT and a cover for 2. Cody does pushups and poses, getting a good crowd response.

He works over Ibushi, ducking a lariat attempt and takes out Omega with a suicide dive at ringside! Ibushi is alone in the ring and looks for the Triangle, cut off by Cody. Cody looks for Cross Rhodes off the apron, Omega interrupts but Cody fights him off, looks for it again but Ibushi with a counter, Omega comes underneath to a powerbomb position and PUTS CODY THROUGH THE ENGLISH ANNOUNCE TABLE! Great spot. And the Ibushi takes out Omega with a top rope springboard twisting moonsault to the floor!!! Ref count begis, Cody is still down at ringside, Ibushi throws Omega back in and looks to spring, but then steps into the ring and goes face to face, they build tension for the 1 on 1 and lock up, break, lock up, break, trade shots, Omega gets wobbly and fires back with a kick. Ibushi returns with one of this own, back and forth again. Ibushi with a flurry, Omega catches and returns a chop, and hits a snap dragon on Ibushi. Calls for V-Trigger, Ibushi looks for a clothesline, they counter each other until Omega lands a couple of hard knees and a reverse hurricanrana, but Ibushi has FIGHTING SPIRIT!!! and lands a heavy lariat that turns Omega inside out. DAMN.

Ibushi back up and lines Omega up for the Pheonix, but CODY IS UP AND PUSHES IBUSHI TO THE FLOOR! Cody looks like take the advantage on Omega, and hits an AMERICAN DESTROYER and covers but only gets 2. Cody up and calls for Din’s Fire, Omega flips out and hits a spinning back kick to the back of Cody’s head, lines him up and hits a big V-Trigger to the back of Cody’s neck. Omega sits Cody up top but reversed, looking for a snap dragon superplex, but Cody fights back. Omega tries again, Cody fights back again knocking Omega down, Ibushi climbs and Omega pulls him off, Ibushi kicks Omega in the back as they fight over the chance to land Cody. Ibushi looks for the lawn dart on Omega but Omega gets out and gets him into a buckle bomb INTO CODY, following with a steep DVD and a cover for 2, as Cody now hangs in a tree of woe. Kenny hits a big V-Trigger on Ibushi, goes for One Winged Angel, Ibushi reverses and LAWN DARTS HIM INTO AN UPSIDE DOWN CODY. That was great.

Cody to the apron, Ibushi goes for the deadlift German off the middle, but Omega hits a springboard into a sunset flip powerbomb and hits it just enough to also throw Cody in the German! Cody and Ibushi at opposite ropes, wide open for V-Triggers on both. Omega says “Thats it”, One Winged Angel but gets reversed by Cody into a powerbomb into Ibushi who catches him into a German suplex, JUST LIKE THE GOLDEN LOVERS DO! Ibushi covers but Cody breaks it. Cody on Ibushi as Omega is on the apron, Cody with a Beautiful Disaster on Omega and fires up, goes outside and looks under the ring and pulls out a table. He puts Omega down face-first into it, then rolls in the ring and looks to powerbomb Ibushi, gets him up but Ibushi fights out, Omega looks to spring in but Cody pushes him off and THROUGH THE TABLE. Cody licks his lips, because he’s AWESOME.

Cody climbs, but Ibushi cuts him off and looks for a superplex, and hits a huge one off of the top, but Cody looks for the package but only gets 2. Cody looks for the Disaster, but Ibushi cuts him off with a kick. Ibushi with a sitout powerbomb, but only 2 on Cody. Ibushi takes the kneepad down for Kamigoye, but Cody moves but is caught in a straight-jacket German, and then hits Kamigoye, but OMEGA STOPS THE REFS HAND FROM COMING DOWN! Obushi looks confused and pissed as Omega tries to talk to Ibushi, but Ibushi is having none of it. This moment feels AMAZING. Ibushi brushes Omega off and lays in HUGE STRIKES. Omega starts to fire back, and then Cody tries to get involved but Ibushi just stares him down, Cody tries a chop but gets KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT by an Ibushi right hand, Ibushi just emotionless as he turns back to Omega. Omega fires again, but Ibushi slaps him. They trade some more, and just start WRESTLING, with Ibushi getting the mount and then laying in palm strikes. They are scrapping and now Ibushi with CLOSED FISTS. Ibushi is DONE being Omega’s second. Ibushi with BOMA YE! Covers, but only 2!

Ibushi looks for Kamigoye on Omega, but Cody snatches the leg and pulls out Ibushi, looks for and hits CROSS RHODES ON OMEGA! Covers, but Ibushi in with a double stomp to break it up! Cody dumps Ibushi back out and measures Omega again, hits another Cross Rhodes and covers, but OMEGA IS OUT AT 2! Ibushi is back on the apron, Cody and Omega are down. Cody up first and shoots at Ibushi, and looks for Din’s Fire, gets Ibushi up and DROPS HIM HARD! Covers, but Omega breaks it up! Cody goes to the oustide and grabs a chair, but then throws it down, and gets applause, until he gets his US title belt instead, but then hands that off just to grab the chair again, he’s in but Omega protects Ibushi from the shot! Cody with boots, and Ibushi comes to Omega’s aid hitting a stiff kick that takes out Cody. Omega from behind with a huge reverse Rana on Ibushi and then hits a HUGE Jay Driller, but only gets 2! Omega with V-Trigger, looks for One Winged Angel, and HITS IT and Cody tries to break it up but cant prevent the 3 count and the WIN for Omega!

Kenny Omega defeats Kota Ibushi and Cody Rhodes by pinfall to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title after One Winged Angel
Jay’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Now THAT is how you do a main event, and also how you do a triple threat title match. And what utterly spectacular storytelling from all involved. Holy shit Kota Ibushi. That FACE. This was all elements of the theatre of wrestling firing on all cylinders. A lot of people questioned Cody’s involvement here but he ABSOLUTELY added to this match, even when it meant the interactions with Ibushi and getting the shit slapped out of him. He played his role perfectly, which is why I cant help but love Cody. He’s brilliant at what he does, he’s evolving, he’s entrepreneurial, he’s creative but he also understands how to relinquish the spotlight as much as take it. And here, he neeeded to stir the Omega/Ibushi pot and he did it wonderfully. Omega was his usual amazing self, and the layout of this as a triple threat, with team spots intentional and unintentional and gorgeous interruptions and redirects. But honestly, this was the Ibushi show for me. Physically and in his interactions with Omega and Cody. That was utterly masterful storytelling on his part, which elevated the always-incredible ring work. This was one of the great NJPW matches I’ve had the chance to see, full stop, and they didnt shy away from making it complicated with regard to the relationships at play. Everyone here should feel AMAZING – they are all clearly main eventers and Cody and Ibushi grabbed that such that I dont feel anyone can deny it with this match. Congratulations to all involved in producing and presenting this one.

After the match, Omega goes to Ibushi’s aid, followed by Cody, as the friends look to reconnect following the match. Omega says he will not give his final address until he and Ibushi can stand together, as Ibushi is still down. Omega hypes the Elite, and plugs who good the match was and why he wants all of them to stand together. Omega closes it by plugging the press conference that happened today, and is about to close when Tanahashi comes down with his briefcase. He gives the mic to Tanahashi. Tanahashi says he’s mad. He says this is New Japan Pro Wrestling. He says lets put it all on the line at the Tokyo Dome, with reference to the philosophical differences between Tanahashi and Omega with regard to NJPW’s future.

JAY’S THOUGHTS:

This was a fantastic event from top to bottom from NJPW. Solid in ring work from top to bottom pretty much, and lots of story developments going in super interesting directions. Jericho’s return is huge, and ZSJ/Naito going at it again coming out of that is some tasty gravy on top. I’ve got my eye on the next Ishii/Suzuki encounter over the RPW Title. Ospreay going heavy is a HUGE roster development as they slot him right into a program for the NEVER strap. KUSHIDA gets a 6th rein with the Junior title, Shingo Takagi joins LIJ, and Okada is still off his game as CHAOS needs leadership. Jay White and Gedo/Jado join the BC OGz, and a STELLAR main event brings us into the build for Omega/Tanahashi and keeps me wondering what is next for Cody and Ibushi, because I have a feeling they are staying in the spotlight ESPECIALLY after that performance. This felt like a real PPV, with a ton of shit that MATTERED surrounded by solid supporting material.The final 3 matches are the must-see’s of the event. A well-produced show, as I feel like NJPW is getting better and better in the global-outreach moment at incorporating things that can appeal to multiple audience bases without sacrificing the stuff that really makes them who they are. The chemistry here is working for me big time, the choice making feels smart in terms of how they are evolving into this generation of talent and storytelling, and I think NJPW is ready to really take the global competition to WWE. Personally, I’m ridiculously excited coming out of KOPW. Lets see what happens next. 

Trending Articles

Home | News | Results | Columns | Radio | Contact | Privacy Policy