New Japan presented the annual “King of Pro Wrestling” event live on New Japan World with English commentary for the first time. The event included A.J. Styles challenging Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Hvt. Title.
RADICAN’S NJPW “KING OF PRO WRESTLING PPV” REPORT
OCTOBER 12, 2015
AIRED LIVE IN ENGLISH ON NJPWWORLD.COM
Kevin Kelly and Matt Striker handled English commentary for NJPW World for the first time.
(1) Juice Robinson & Jay White & Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka & David Finlay vs. KUSHIDA & Jushin Liger & Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask in a 10-Man Tag match. Robinson, the former C.J. Parker, was introduced as the newest young lion in NJPW teaming with fellow young lions White, Komatsu, and Tanaka. The Young Lions had the upper hand during the early stages of the match after jumping their opponents during the introductions and then working over Liger and then KUSHIDA for a long period of time. Taguchi got the hot tag from KUSHIDA and ran wild with his butt attacks. He got cut off and Robinson began working him over. The action broke down, but Robinson managed to take down Tiger Mask and hit a big standing splash for a 2 count. Finlay got isolated and took a combination of moves capped by a diving elbow off the top from Dorada for a 2 count. Striker gave a ridiculous analogy to describe fighting spirit in NJPW. Dorada finally pinned Finlay with a Michinoku driver.
WINNERS: KUSHIDA & Jushin Liger & Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi
Star rating: (**3/4) – This was a fun opening match. The Young Lions dominated most of the action before falling short in the end.
(2) Tomoaki Honma vs. YOSHI-HASHI. Striker said a victory here might change the trajectory of HASHI’s career. Striker said Honma was just now starting to win the acclaim of the NJPW fans after 18 years. Oh brother. Please make him stop. Honma missed a kokeshi off the ropes during the early going. HASHI took control on the floor and went to work on Honma. He then nailed him with a cane shot to the mid-section. HASHI worked a single leg crab, but Honma managed to get the ropes. Honma fired up and nailed several chops to deck HASHI. He went for a kokeshi off the ropes again, but HASHI got out of the way once again. Honma tried to go for a suplex to counter HASHI, but his back gave out as he sold HASHI’s work on his back and mid-section.
Honma finally hit a running bulldog and a headbutt off the ropes and the fans fired up. HASHI fired back and hit a neck breaker for a 2 count. Honma hit another kokeshi off the ropes, but HASHI kicked out at 2. Honma hit a slam and went up top for a kokeshi, but HASHI got out of the way. Striker said Wrestle Kingdom was in Honma’s future if he could win this match. Both men hit clotheslines at the same time until HASHI finally decked Honma with a clothesline. HASHI hit a powerbomb and floated over into a pinning combo for a 2 count. HASHI went for a swanton, but Honma got out of the way. Honma hit a running kokeshi to HASHI’s back. He hit another diving kokeshi for a near fall. Honma caught HASHI with a leaping kokeshi off the ropes and hit a top rope kokeshi for the win.
WINNER: Tomoaki Honma.
Star rating: (***) – This was a good back and forth match with HASHI working over Honma’s back as the announcers painted the picture that this match would play a big factor in determining Honma’s place on the Wrestle Kingdom card in January. The fans seemed to be happy with Honma getting the win here.
(3) Hirooki Goto & Cpt. New Japan & Kota Ibushi & Shibata vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuji Nagata & Nakanishi Manabu in a eight-man tag match. Ibushi and Nakanishi had a big exchange of kicks and chops. Ibushi finally decked Nakanishi with a big kick to the chest and hit a standing moonsault for a 2 count. Goto and Kojima went at it next while Striker continued to give shout outs. Kojima and Tenzan cleared the apron and began hitting double chops on Goto. They then wiped him out with a double team move. Goto finally fired back on Tenzan with a headbutt and followed up with a neck breaker over his knee, but Kojima broke up the pin.
Cpt. New Japan tagged in and hit a series of double chops on Tenzan. Shibata tagged in and continued to work him over. Tenzan finally cut off Goto and tagged in Nagata, who ran wild. Nagata began nailing Goto with a series of big kicks to the chest. Goto fired right back and hit a spinning kick in the corner. They began trading bombs in the middle of the ring. Nagata finally faked out Goto before hitting a basement dropkick. Goto got right up and took Nagata down with a lariat and both men were down. Shibata got the tag and went to work on Nagata, but he countered him and locked in the white eyes arm bar while his partners cleared the apron. Cpt. New Japan finally managed to make the save for Shibata.
Shibata hit a Saito suplex and made the cover on Nagata for a 2 count. They got up and Nagata hit a big exploder and both men were down on the mat. Kojima got the tag and began hitting the machinegun chops in the corner on Shibata. Shibata fired right back and tagged in Cpt. New Japan, who took on everyone until Tenzan began nailing him with double chops. The action broke down and when the smoke cleared Kojima was isolated and took a series of moves capped by a big running dropkick from Shibata in the corner. Cpt. New japan came of the top for a splash but Kojima got out of the way. Cpt. New Japan and Kojima were left alone in the ring while everyone else brawled on the floor. Eventually Cpt. New Japan took a series of moves capped by a 3D from Tenzan and Kojima, but the pin got broken up. Kojima wiped out Cpt. New Japan with a big lariat a short time later for the win.
WINNERS: Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata.
Star rating: (**) – This was fine, but there wasn’t much going on in this match outside of a tease of something between Nagata and Shibata. The crowd seems flat so far tonight compared to the usual heat in Sumo Hall.
(4) IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team champions ReDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. RPG Vice (Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero). Striker was giving shout-outs like he had won a lifetime achievement award by being selected to do commentary on this event. Romero baited O’Reilly and Baretta attacked him from behind. O’Reilly fired back and got a cross-arm breaker on Romero, but he quickly got the ropes. ReDRagon began tagging in and out to work over Romero with Trent down on the outside. Kelly decided it was his turn to give shout-outs and said Jeff Jones had made this possible for him.
O’Reilly got cut off by Romero and Trent tagged in to begin working him over. Striker said ROH should sign Anthony Nese. This turned out to be a solid back and forth match, but the finish didn’t come off well as ReDRagon hit double dragon on Trent. Romero was supposed to shove Fish into O’Reilly to break up the pin, but he didn’t do it in time and the finish didn’t come off very well.
WINNERS: Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Championship.
Star rating: (**3/4) – This was turning into a good match-up until the finish. It wasn’t going to be anything great, but the finish was confusing and brought the match down a couple of notches.
I’m switching over to Japanese commentary.
(5) IWGP Jr. Hvt. champion Kenny Omega vs. Matt Sydal. The announcers mentioned that it looked like Sydal was going to be facing KUSHIDA for the title when he beat him in a non-title match in ROH recently, but Omega derailed those plans. Omega was really over the top with his facial expressions during the early going as he put the boots to Sydal. Sydal fired back and hit a hurricanrana that sent Omega into the corner. Sydal hit a big sliding dropkick in the corner and locked in a last chancery variation a short time later. Omega struggled, but managed to get to the ropes. Sydal began kicking away at Omega’s leg. Sydal continued to target Omega’s leg with submissions and kicks, but Omega eventually managed to send him into the corner with a big kick to the chest. Cody Hall attacked Sydal from the outside while Omega distracted the ref, which drew some boos from the fans. Omega drank some water before spitting it on Sydal. Omega took off his wrist tape off each wrist and threw it at Sydal’s back. Sydal fired back and surprised Omega with a kick, but Omega fired back and hit a back breaker for a 2 count.
Sydal mounted a comeback and hit a jumping meteora off the ropes. Sydal fired up and hit a big standing leg drop for a 2 count. He followed up with a standing moonsault for another 2 count. Omega climbed the turnbuckles a short time later, but Sydal hit a jumping hurricanrana for a 2 count. Sydal went up top, but Omega cut him off. They went back and forth up top and Omega went for a slam, but Sydal countered it into a head scissors and then caught him with a kick. Omega rolled to the floor and Sydal hit a big splash over the top to the floor to wipe out Hall and Omega and the fans fired up.
Omega countered Sydal and powerbombed him into the turnbuckles. He then went for a gutwrench powerbomb and hit it for a 2 count. Hall pounded the mat to the tune of the terminator as Omega tried to get Sydal up for a suplex. Sydal managed to fight out of it and when Omega lifted him back into position he turned it into a dragoncanrana for a near fall! They traded blows and Omega got the upper hand. Sydal then surprised him with a jumping knee strike. They went back and forth and Sydal hit a running inverted hurricanrana. The fans fired up and Sydal went to the top for a SSP, but Omega got his knees up. Omega then hit a snap tiger suplex and a big running knee strike. He went for the one-winged angel. Sydal tried to fight out of it, but Omega hit it for the win. Wow!
WINNER: Kenny Omega to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship.
Star rating: (***3/4) – This was a really good back and forth match. It’s really exciting to see Sydal in the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Division and this match had a good build with both men working a limb and then picking things up late. Omega is a little over the top at times, but this was still really entertaining.
(6) Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & IWGP Hvt. Tag Team champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows) vs. Chaos (IWGP IC champion Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba). Nakamura went face-to-face with Anderson during the introductions before hitting his pose. Anderson cut off Nakamura and tagged in Gallows, who continued to work him over. Nakamura quickly tagged in Sakuraba, who managed to dodge Gallows and pepper him with kicks. Gallows finally blocked a kick and hit an uppercut to Sakuraba’s throat. Sakuraba took a beating for a long period of time. Anderson mocked Nakamura as he worked over Sakuraba.
Nakamura finally got the hot tag and cleared the apron before nailing Anderson with a dropkick. Nakamura hit the vibration boot, but Anderson countered it. Nakamura hit his signature running knee strike in the corner, but Anderson kicked out at 2. Nakamura set up for Boma Ye on Anderson, but Gallows nailed him with a big boot to the face. Anderson and Gallows set up for the magic killer on Nakamura, but he blocked it and took them both down before hitting a Boma Ye on Anderson that left everyone down in the ring. Yano got the tag and ended up taking a beating from Fale. Fale set him up for the bad luck fall, but Sakuraba broke it up. Tonga ran in and helped Fale beat up Yano with the ref distracted. Yano countered them and hit a double low and pinned Fale for the win.
After the match, Anderson and Nakamura went face-to-face before Nakamura bailed and went to the back.
WINNERS: Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano.
Star rating: (**1/2) – This match featured some good action. The match was mostly designed to set up Anderson as a challenger to Nakamura’s IC Championship.
(7) IWGP NEVER Openweight champion Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii. They locked up and Ishii backed Makabe into the ropes and slapped him across the face. Makabe tried to return the favor, but Ishii slapped him across the face again. Makabe fired back and took Ishii down with a shoulder tackle and the action spilled to the floor. They both went for clotheslines into the floor and Makabe wanted to go back into the ring to go at it. They got back into the ring and began exchanging clotheslines again as the fans gasped.
Makabe finally won the battle of clotheslines with a big lariat that kept Ishii down on the mat. Makabe nailed Ishii with some big forearms and Ishii told him to bring it. Ishii then fired back and sent Makabe down with a big forearm of his own. Ishii began nailing Makabe with big chops and told him to get up. He followed up with a big suplex on Makabe and then slapped him across the face. Makabe yelled at Ishii and Ishii lightly stepped on his face.
Makabe began to fire up as Ishii hit him with several chops. Makabe finally caught Ishii with a powerslam as he came off the ropes. Ishii hit a couple of big forearms, but Makabe took him down with a running shoulder tackle and the fans fired up. Makabe hit his signature baby punches in the corner and followed up with a northern lights suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. The fans chanted for Makabe as Ishii tried to regroup.
Both men began exchanging blows in the middle of the ring once again. Ishii sent Makabe to his knees with a big chop to the throat. He followed up with a Saito suplex. Ishii ducked a charge in the corner and grounded Makabe with another big chop to the throat. Ishii then hit a superplex and the fans gasped, but he only got a 2 count. Makabe fired back and hit a northern lights suplex with a bridge for a 2 count a short time later. They went back and forth.
Both men hit big clotheslines, but neither would go down. Makabe hit several running clotheslines before finally sending Ishii crumbling down to the mat. Makabe hit the kneeling powerbomb, but Ishii kicked out at the last second. Makabe hit a clothesline to Ishii’s front and he wouldn’t go down, so he nailed him with a running clothesline from the front and got a near fall. Makabe placed Ishii up top for the spider German, but Ishii held on to the ringpost. Ishii fired back and nailed Makabe with several strikes. Makabe fired back as they began trading up top. Ishii finally hit a headbutt that sent Makabe down to the mat. Ishii came off the top with the King Kong knee drop and connected!
The announcers freaked out as both men went back and forth a short time later. Ishii hit an enzuguri and wiped out Makabe with a huge lariat, but he managed to kick out. Ishii went for a sliding clothesline, but Makabe got up and nailed him with a clothesline of his own and both men were down. Wow! Both men went back and forth exchanging blows. They began to tire as they continued to exchange and Ishii finally collapsed. Ishii fired back and surprised Makabe with a big headbutt. Makabe then hit a German with a bridge out of nowhere, but Ishii managed to just kick out before 3.
Makabe went for the spider German again. This time he nailed Ishii with several headbutts before connecting with the spider German! The crowd gasped and Makabe came off the top for the King Kong knee drop, but Ishii got out of the way and hit a diving headbutt! Holy s—t! Ishii got up and hit a huge diving lariat, but only got a 2 count. Ishii ducked a strike and hit a tiger suplex and a diving clothesline, but Makabe kicked out at the last second! Ishii then hit the brainbuster and made a deep cover for the win!
After the match, Honma ran down to the ring and got on the mic. He pointed at Ishii and told him to get into the ring. The fans fired up with a Honma chant before Ishii backed away. It looks like we will get Honma vs. Ishii for the Openweight Title at Power Struggle next month.
WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii to become the new NEVER Openweight champion.
Star rating: (****) – This was an excellent match. There were a couple of rough spots, but man what a war these two had. I had soured a bit on Makabe, but he brought it in this match and was tremendous. The final stretch was bananas leading into Ishii finally recapturing the NEVER Openweight Championship.
A video packaged aired for the Naito-Tanahashi match with the main event at WK 10 on the line.
Naito came out first for the semi-main event. He beat Tanahashi during the G1 Climax 25 tournament and this is Tanahashi’s last defense of his briefcase that contains a contract for a shot at the IWGP Hvt. Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. A second person came out dressed like Naito in a suit and smiling mask. Tanahashi was out next to a good ovation from the fans.
Naito stood inside the ring while the other man dressed like Naito leaned on the ropes from the apron. Naito took off his mask first to a mixed reaction. Tanahashi looked on as Naito began undressing in mild exasperation.
(8) G1 Climax 25 Winner Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito (w/Man dressed like Naito) – IWGP Hvt. Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom 10 on the line. Naito teased locking up and then walked away from Tanahashi. Naito got the upper hand early and set up for a dive, but ended up doing a roll before hitting his pose in the ring. Naito went to work on Tanahashi on the outside and whipped him into the guardrail several times. Naito set up Tanahashi in a chair against the guardrail and nailed him with a huge running dropkick. He then set the chair up in the ring and took a breather.
Naito worked a head scissors on the mat inside the ring a short time later, but Tanahasi managed to get the ropes. Naito kicked a cameraman through the ropes before going back after Tanahashi. Naito then hit his pose while standing over Tanahashi, which drew some boos from the fans. Naito spit in Tanahashi face and laughed at him. He then countered a punch into a neck breaker for a 2 count. Naito went to spit in Tanahashi’s face again, but he cut him off with an uppercut. Naito then hit a flying forearm off the ropes. Tanahashi hit a basement dropkick and Naito sold his leg. He then put Naito in a Texas cloverleaf, but he got to the ropes fairly quickly. Tanahashi hit a dragon screw around the ropes on Naito and he fell off the apron to the floor. Tanahashi then went up top and hit a high fly flow to the floor and the fans fired up. Naito’s companion stood motionless and looked on. Tanahashi went for a high fly flow on Naito as he was standing inside the ring, but he got his knees up. Naito sold his leg on the mat and smiled after looking at Tanahashi.
Naito set up Tanahashi with a top rope huracanrana before rolling him up for a 2 count. Tanahashi hit several punches and Naito spit in his face. They went back and forth trading blows as the fans fired up. Tanahashi eventually slumped, but didn’t go down. They continued to trade blows until Naito raked Tanahashi’s eyes and followed up with a flying forearm off the ropes. Both men went back and forth jockeying for position until Tanahashi managed to land a suplex. The fans fired up and chanted for Tanahasi, but Naito caught him with a sling blade and hit a pump-handle slam for a 2 count.
Naito ended up tossing Tanahashi right into the ref and it looked like it was on purpose. The ref rolled to the floor. Naito’s companion ended up getting into the ring and he nailed Tanahashi with a clothesline. He took his mask off and it was Watanabe. The fans booed as Watanabe began slowly taking his suit off. Naito and Watanabe put the boots to Tanahashi. Captain New Japan got on the apron, but Watanabe clotheslined him back to the floor. Watanabe nailed Tanahashi with a big German. Shibata and Goto ran down to the ring and wiped out Watanabe and Naito. They then checked on the ref, who was still down on the floor. Goto and Shibata rolled the ref into the ring.
Naito hit a low blow and did his diving pinning combination for a 2 count. He then kicked the ref after Tanahashi kicked out. Tanahashi blocked Destino several times and finally hit a sling blade. He went up top and hit a standing high fly flow. Tanahashi went up top again and hit another high fly flow for the win.
After the match, Watanabe wiped out Goto with a big STO variation, but Shibata chased him away. Watanabe and Goto slowly walked to the back.
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain his title shot at Wrestle Kingdome 10
Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a good match. I know the tradition in Japan is that the ref hardly ever calls for a DQ in matches when they’re attacked, but it was bordering on ridiculous towards the end. The action was really good up until the smoke and mirrors portion of the match, but the finish wasn’t very exciting. I am intrigued to see the pairing of Naito and Watanabe in NJPW going forward.
A video package chronicled Okada’s fall at Wrestle Kingdom in January. Then it told the story of his long climb back from that devastating loss. They showed Okada beating Styles for the belt earlier this year. They showed footage of Styles beating Okada in a tag match at the G1 Climax 25 Final. This is likely Okada’s last title defense before Wrestle Kingdom 10 and Tanahashi is now locked in to be the challenger to the IWGP Hvt. Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 10 after beating Naito.
A.J. Styles was out first for the main event. He came down to the ring with several members of Bullet Club. Okada then came out with Gedo to a good response before the formal introductions.
(9) IWGP Hvt. Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. A.J. Styles – IWGP World Hvt. Title match. A chant for Styles started and he yelled at the crowd. Both men offered clean breaks during the early going, but when Okada offered a clean break, Styles slapped him and Okada fired right back with a slap of his own. The pace picked up and Okada got in a flurry of offense capped by a neck breaker.
Anderson suddenly got up on the apron and argued with the ref. Tonga dragged Okada to the floor and Gallows wiped him out with a clothesline with the ref distracted. Bullet Club beat up Gedo on the floor. Styles distracted the ref and Gallows nailed Okada with a big powerbomb on the outside. Styles got him in the ring, but only managed a 2 count. Styles hit his signature dropkick sequence a short time later and the fans fired up. Styles said this was his ring before tossing Okada to the floor. Okada fired back and drove Styles into the barricade on the outside. Styles then whipped Okada into the guardrail a short time later.
Styles then began working over Okada inside the ring a short time later. Both men eventually went back and forth and Okada ended the sequence with a big diving uppercut that left both men down on the mat. Okada placed Styles up top a short time later and nailed him with a huge dropkick that sent him crashing to the floor. Styles went for a springboard off the guardrail, but Okada kicked the guardrail and Styles crashed and burned. Okada then hit a hangman’s DDT off the guardrail and the fans gasped.
Styles fired back a short time later and hit a springboard elbow inside the ring. They went back and forth and Okada hit his signature neck breaker over his knee and both men were down. The fans fired up and chanted for Okada. They went back and forth and Styles hit a big face buster for a 2 count. Both men were once again slow to get up. Styles went for the Styles clash and Okada tried to fight out of it, so he hit the hollow point instead for a near fall. Styles went for a springboard 450 a short time later, but Okada rolled out of the way. Once again, the fans chanted for Okada, who went up top. Styles had barely gotten to his knees when Okada nailed him with a huge missile dropkick off the top. Both men went back and forth exchanging blows a short time later. Okada smiled as they continued to trade bombs.
Styles decked Okada with a forearm, but he got right up and decked Styles with a forearm. Both men continued to go down and get right up from big forearm shots. Styles kicked Okada in the back and he got up and nailed Styles with a running dropkick to the back. They continued to go back and forth and Okada finally caught Styles with a huge dropkick off the ropes. Wow! He followed up with a German and the rainmaker, but Anderson pulled Okada to the outside and did the rainmaker pose. Okada fended off Anderson and Gallows on the floor. He then wiped out Anderson, Gallows, and Tonga with a big tope con hilo over the top to the floor and the fans fired up! Holy s—!
Okada went up top, but Styles popped up from the mat and cut him off. Styles hit a bloody Sunday DDT off the top, but Okada kicked out at the very last second and the fans gasped. Okada countered the Styles clash, but Styles rolled through and got it again. Okada managed to fight it off again, but Styles caught him in the calf killer a short time later. Styles worked the hold for a long period of time. Okada managed to get to his feet and he went for a rainmaker, but Styles countered it and rolled through into the calf killer again! Okada teased tapping as Styles continued to work the hold. The fans fired up huge and Okada teased tapping, but then grabbed the rope. Wow! Amazing selling from Okada there with the tease of tapping. The fans went nuts and chanted for Okada. Styles went for the calf killer a short time later, but Okada blocked it and hit a tombstone.
The fans chanted for Okada as he favored his leg. Both men got to their knees and began trading blows. They then began trading slowly from their feet. Styles nailed Okada with a combination of Strikes, but Okada countered him they went back and forth and Okada countered out of Styles clash into a hurricanrana. Styles then hit Okada with a Pele kick a short time later to end the sequence. Wow! Okada picked up Styles and went for another tombstone, but Styles escaped and kicked his leg. Styles drover Okada into the corner and went up top, but Okada nailed him with a huge European uppercut. They battled up top a short time later. They ended up going to the mat and Okada hit a rainmaker. He then picked up Styles and hit a second rainmaker. Okada then picked up Styles and hit a HUGE third rainmaker for the win. Wow!
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada to retain the IWGP Hvt. Championship.
Star rating: (****1/2) – The match got off to a pedestrian start with some interference. The match continued to go along and wasn’t anything great, but then they picked up the pace and it got really incredible. They had some tremendous exchanges and near falls down the stretch. These two are amazing to watch and they delivered a great conclusion to their feud…for now.
Afterward, Styles was carried to the back by his fellow Bullet Club members. Okada then posed in the ring with the mini-trophy before the ref presented him with the title and put it around his waist. It will now be Okada vs. Tanahashi once again in the main event for the IWGP Hvt. Championship.
Okada cut a post-match promo. Tanahashi then slid into the ring behind with his briefcase for a shot at the IWGP Hvt. Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 10. Okada then turned around and handled the mic to Tanahashi. The fans applauded as Tanahashi cut his promo. The fans were mixed chanting for both men as they looked back and forth into the crowd. Tanahashi then held up his briefcase. Okada held up his title and they had a stare down. Tanahashi then left the ring and pointed at Okada.
Tanahashi left and Gedo got on the mic and talked up Okada. The fans gasped at his words. Gedo talked up Okada winning at Wrestle Kingdom 01 to end the promo as Okada posed in the ring and gold confetti fell from the rafters. What an end to the show!
Overall Thoughts: (8.0) – This was a very good show. The tag matches on the undercard were a bit of a chore to get through and some of the big matches on the card didn’t deliver as I expected, but the show closed with a great final stretch and we now have the main event set for Wrestle Kingdom 10 at the Tokyo Dome.
On the undercard, the highlight to me was Omega vs. Sydal. Although all signs were pointed towards Sydal vs. KUSHIDA for the Jr. Hvt. Title with some angles set up in ROH, Omega threw a wrench in those plans by winning the title. They had a really good match and Sydal continues to put on some really strong performances outside of ROH.
The second half of the show was really strong. Ishii-Makabe was a tremendous all-out war that saw both men bring it in a hard-hitting contest. I’ve been down on Makabe, but he was great in this match and it was nice to see Ishii finally regain the NEVER Openweight Championship.
Naito-Tanahashi was really good and I enjoyed the reveal of Watanabe as his new second. They were having a really good match until the smoke and mirrors elements took place down the stretch before Tanahashi finally put Naito away. It seemed that Naito should have been DQ’d, but he never was and ended up taking the loss. With Tanahashi beating Naito, he has now avenged all his losses during G1 Climax 25.
Okada-Styles could have a four-star match in their sleep at this point. Both guys are working at a really high level and although the match started out slowly, they pulled out all the stops. The second half of the match was incredible and they had some spectacular sequences building up to a crazy finish with Okada hitting three rainmakers to get the win.
Although there are some fans that aren’t happy with another match between Okada and Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom, I’m quite happy to see this long-term storyline potentially wind to a climax with Okada finally getting a win over Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom, which he has been unable to do yet. The post-match confrontation between Tanahashi and Okada to set up their match at Wrestle Kingdom felt huge and I got chills watching them go face-to-face.
Overall, this was a really good show that had some lulls, but all the big matches delivered with the exception of the Jr. Hvt. Tag match. The fans didn’t seem to be quite as into the action as usual and I noticed some open seats on camera at Sumo Hall, but they really came alive for the last three matches, especially the tremendous main event. This was a really good show that set up the main event for Wrestle Kingdom 10. Definitely required viewing heading into early January.
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