KELLER & MARTIN FLAGSHIP (11/28)
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PWTorch columnist Sean Radican has a full rundown of New Japan’s “Wrestle Kingdom 10” Tokyo Dome Show featuring an epic battle between Kazuchika Okada and Tanahashi for the IWGP World Title…
RADICAN’S NJPW “WRESTLE KINGDOM X” PPV REPORT
JANUARY 4, 2015
TOKYO, JAPAN AT THE TOKYO DOME
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(a) New Japan Rumble. Jushin Liger kicked things off against Yoshiaki Fujiwara. The building looked empty as the match began. Tiger Mask was out next. They showed the English commentary team at ringside. Cheeseburger from ROH was out next. He threw some plastic cheeseburgers into the crowd. Fujiwara and Liger acted like they wanted to shake his hand and then they stretched him like a plastic stretch toy. Liger then told Cheeseburger to go after Fujiwara, who no-sold his punches and put a beating on him. Liger and Tiger Mask kept picking Cheeseburger up and then they would shove him towards Fujiwara. Hiro Saito was out next followed by YOSHI-HASHI. Everyone continued to no-sell Cheeseburger’s offense, but he remained alive in the match. Mascara Dorada was out next. He gave everyone uppercuts and then Fujiwara tapped him out with an arm bar. Everyone then piled on top of Fujiwara and eliminate him via pinfall. Saito was shown no-selling Cheeseburger, which was funny. Manabu Nakanishi was out next. He went up top and Liger shook the ropes, so he got back down and hit a chop on Dorada while Liger held him. Yuji Nagata was out next. Saito hit a senton on Tiger Mask and then everyone piled on top of him for the pin. Saito picked up Cheeseburger, but Liger shoved him over and then everyone piled on top of him for the pin. Satoshi Kojima was out next. HASHI tossed Nakajima over the top rope to eliminate him. Kojima held HASHI and Cheeseburger nailed him with machinegun chops. Kojima no-sold it and wiped out Cheeseburger with a huge chop.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan was out next. HE decided he wanted to beat up HASHI. Dorada hit him with a double chop from behind, but Tenzan fired right back to wipe him out with a double chop of his own. Kojima and Tenzan then went at it. Ryusuke Taguchi was out next. Everyone attacked him when he got into the ring. Nagata nailed his backside with some big kicks. Taguchi no-sold an attack from Cheeseburger and wiped him out with his rear end. Shiro Koshinaka was out next. He wiped out everyone with rear end attacks, which fired up Taguchi as he went after several people with rear end attacks of his own. Bullet Club music played and King Haku came out! Holy s—t! He’s Tama Tonga’s father. Haku eliminated Nagata and Kojima by sending them to the floor. The Great Kabuki was out next and the announcers went nuts. He did his nun chuck routine and then spit out green mist in the entranceway. Taguchi and HASHI worked together to eliminate Tenzan with a double pin. Kabuki went after Cheeseburger, who ducked out of the ring. Kazushi Sakuraba was out next. He got a big reaction from the fans. It appears that Haku was eliminated somehow. Sakuraba went at it with Kabuki. Kabuki blew mist into his face and got DQ’d. Taguchi then rolled up Sakuraba and everyone piled on top for the elimination. HASHI hit a swanton on Cheeseburger to eliminate him. Jado came out the main entrance ramp with a woman. Momoka Ariyasu. She did a cartwheel and took off her mask. It was down to Jado, Taguchi, and Koshinaka. Koshinaka and Taguchi worked over Jado together. Koshinaka had the pin on Jado, but Taguchi broke it up for some reason. Jado mounted a comeback and tossed Koshinaka to the floor to eliminate him. He then pulled the ropes on Taguchi and he flew to the floor for the final elimination.
Jado and Ariyasu did mic work after he won.
WINNER: Jado. This was fine, but nothing you need to watch if you’re viewing the replay of this show.
Tanahashi and Makabe were shown on the big screen dressed like cavemen. A man came out with a little girl. Several others came out dressed in strange costumes. This was bizarre.
The opening video package played highlighting the big matches on the show.
(1) IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions ReDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson w/Cody Hall) vs. 2015 Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament Champions Matt Sydal & Ricochet vs. RPG Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta) in a Four-way Tag match. Before the bell, Hall jumped ReDRagon and cleared the ring with The Young Bucks. The bell rang to officially open the match with Matt working over Fish inside the ring. Fish fired back and tagged in O’Reilly. They went to work on Nick with a series of kicks and knees. The action continued at a fast pace with all four teams getting involved at one point or another. Beretta cleared the ring and wiped out a pile of men with a huge flip dive. Trent went up top a short time later, but Nick tripped him and tagged in to make the cover, but he only got a 2 count. The Young Bucks threw a bunch of superkicks and nailed Beretta with a double superkick, but it was only good for a 2 count. The Young Bucks maintained control while continuing to work over Beretta. Romero finally ran in and nailed Matt while he was using Beretta’s hand to do crotch chops. Matt fired back a short time later with a superkick to Romero on the apron. Beretta fired back and Matt tagged in Nick. Nick took a tornado DDT from Beretta right away. The fans fired up and Beretta tagged in Ricochet, who ran wild on Matt with Sydal. Ricochet and Sydal the wiped out Nick with a combination of moves and hit stereo SSP on him, but Matt ran in to make the save.
The pace picked up once again. O’Reilly caught Matt with an arm bar in the ropes. Nick dove over them and wiped out a pile of men and then superkick O’Reilly. Romero wiped out Nick with a dive. Sydal then went up top and hit a huge moonsault to wipe out a pile of men and the fans fired up. Ricochet then got a running start, but Hall tripped him from the outside. Hall set up for a Razor’s edge as Matt held the official’s attention. Hall then hit a Razor’s edge to the floor on Ricochet and tossed him back into Matt. The Young Bucks ran wild on Ricochet with a series of double team moves, but he managed to kick out at 2. Ricochet and Sydal mounted a comeback and wiped out the Young Bucks. Sydal hit a crazy step-up SSP to the floor to wipe out Hall. He then hit a springboard 450 on Nick, but Matt made the save by shoving Sydal into Ricochet. Holy s—t!
Ricochet and Sydal set up The Young Bucks for stereo SSP, but ReDRagon broke it up. They ran wild on Sydal with a series of double team maneuvers and the fans gasped. ReDRagon hit double dragon on Nick, but Hall dragged Fish to the floor when he made the pin. O’Reilly wiped out Hall with a flying knee off the apron. Matt broke up chasing the dragon on Nick. They then went to a eight-way suplex spot. The Young Bucks, Ricochet, and Sydal ended up taking the suplex. A replay showed the big spot and the ref even bumped for the spot! Romero hit his signature running clotheslines in all four corners. He ended the sequence with a double clothesline on the Young Bucks and then Sydal and Ricochet and the fans applauded. Holy s—t! Ricochet blocked strong zero from RPG Vice on Sydal. They went up top and hit stereo SSP on Romero and Beretta, but Nick made a blind tag and went for the cover. Romero kicked out at 2 and The Young Bucks hit more bang for your buck on Romero for the win. Wow! These guys killed it!
WINNERS: Matt & Nick Jackson to become the four-time IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions.
Star rating: (****1/4) – This amazing. These guys got a lot of time and they took advantage of it putting on an incredible display of high-flying and innovation. Ricochet was tremendous here as was Sydal. The match also made good use of Hall, as his interference actually built the match up to the Young Bucks getting the sneaky win in the end.
(2) The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga vs. Toru Yano & The Briscoes (Mark & Jay Briscoe) to crown the first-ever NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champions. When the Briscoes and Toru got into the ring all six men went at it right away and brawled to the floor. Kelly mentioned The Bullet Club had once again jump started the match, as the Young Bucks also jumped their opponents to begin the opening match. Mark hit the Cactus elbow on Takahashi on the floor and a small ROH chant broke out. Yano tagged in and ducked a punch from Fale before slapping him across the back of his head. He then went between the ropes and screamed for a break, which fired up the crowd. Tonga then scared Yano from behind and he walked into a punch from Fale. Tonga tagged in and began working over Yano. He knocked both of The Briscoes off the apron with a dropkick. Yano continued to take a beating from Bullet Club. Yano undid the turnbuckle cover and Fale ran into it after he got out of the way. Yano hit his pose and Bullet Club tried to interrupt twice. He finally fended them off and hit it, but Fale took him. Yano eventually ducked a running splash from Fale and tagged in Mark, who ran wild. Takahashi eventually went for an eye rake and then hit a fisherman’s buster on Mark.
Tonga got the tag and he knocked Jay off the apron before going after Mark. Mark hit a blockbuster off the apron on Takahashi and Jay hit a DVD on Tonga inside the ring, but he kicked out at the last second. Jay went for the Jay-driller on Tonga, but he countered it into a flap jack. He followed up with an Alabama slam, but Yano broke up the pin. Jay fired back and they battled up top. Tonga knocked Jay down to the mat, but he went back after Tonga and tried to get him onto his shoulders. Tonga held onto the ropes, but Yano nailed him with a chair and the Briscoes hit the doomsday device on Tonga for the win.
The Briscoes and Yano posed with the titles after the match.
WINNERS: Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe & Toru Yano to become the first ever NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions. There wasn’t much to this match, but it was fine while it lasted with some decent back and forth action leading to the finish.
Michael Elgin came out first to face ROH World Champion Jay Lethal. Kevin Kelly talked about Elgin rebuilding his legacy after going into a deep depression. He said Elgin had been reborn during the G1 tournament and had earned a shot at Lethal by beating Jay Briscoe at “Survival of the Fittest” in ROH in November. Elgin got a good reaction when he was introduced in the ring. Kelly said Elgin had been disappointed losing the ROH World Title in front of his friends and family in Toronto, but this was his chance at redemption. This is a big deal to see the ROH World Title defended at “Wrestle Kingdom X.” It’s a shame that generic music was played for the entrances of Lethal and Elgin. Striker filled in some background information on Jay Lethal and plugged the ROH Top Prospect Tournament that is kicking off this weekend.
(3) ROH World Champion Jay Lethal (w/Truth Martini) vs. Michael Elgin. Elgin backed Lethal into the corner. He offered a clean break, but Lethal slapped him. Elgin fired back with a big forearm. Elgin had on new tights with Japanese writing on the front. Elgin hit his signature delayed vertical suplex. Lethal tried to fight out with a pair of knee strikes, but Elgin lifted him back up both times before eventually dropping him down to the mat for a 2 count. Elgin showed off his strength with a one-arm press slam a short time later. Martini grabbed Elgin’s leg on the apron a short time later. Elgin fended him off, but Martini distracted Elgin again. Lethal sent him off the apron and nailed him with a dive through the ropes a short time later. Lethal set up for another dive and Martini posed as Lethal dove over him and nailed Elgin once again. Martini did a spinaroonie in the ring to celebrate Lethal turning the tide. Elgin managed to beat the ref’s count into the ring and Lethal jumped him right away and began working him over. Martini set up on the apron and took some pictures of Lethal working over Elgin. Elgin caught Lethal going for a slingshot and nailed him with a big forearm, but Lethal fired right back and hit a cartwheel into a kick.
Lethal continued to work over Elgin inside the ring with a camel clutch. Elgin stood up and drove Lethal into the corner. Lethal jumped right back on his back, so Elgin backed him into the corner again. Elgin blocked a tornado DDT attempt out of the corner and tossed Lethal across the ring. Elgin caught Lethal charging at him in the corner and hit a big suplex. Elgin went on the attack and hit a big slingshot splash. Elgin went for a deadlift German a short time later and connected for a 2 count. Elgin hit Lethal with several clothesline to the front and back. Lethal fired back and hit the Lethal combination a short time later. He went up top and hit hail to the king for a near fall. Elgin fired back and hit a series of German suplexes. Lethal tried to fight out of the third German and eventually managed to shake Elgin off, but Elgin turned him inside out with a big lariat. Lethal rolled to the apron and Elgin set up for the dead lift falcon arrow and connected. The fans gasped as Elgin made the cover for a 2 count. Elgin signaled for the finish. He hit the buckle bomb, but Martini jumped into the ring. Elgin nailed him with a backfist, but Lethal managed to pick up the Book of Truth. Lethal hit Elgin with the Book of Truth when he set up for the Elgin bomb. Lethal then connected with the Lethal injection for the win.
Winner: Jay Lethal to retain the ROH World Championship
Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a very good match. Lethal won thanks to a fair amount of interference from Martini. I’m hoping this leads to another ROH World Title match between these two, as Elgin was clearly in control and on the verge of winning when Martini interfered.
KUSHIDA was out next to face Omega for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship. Taguchi was shown in the ring operating the flux capacitor dressed like Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future, which was hilarious. Omega was out next and he did a Terminator style entrance. Omega was accompanied to the ring by The Young Bucks. KUSHIDA wanted The Young Bucks to be ejected. The Young Bucks an Omega hit a triple superkick on Taguchi and then went after KUSHIDA. The ref finally restored order and the match was on.
(4) IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champion Kenny Omega (w/The Young Bucks) vs. KUSHIDA (w/Doc Taguchi). Omega had the upper hand, but KUSHIDA fired back with a basement dropkick and then a cartwheel into a dropkick on Omega. KUSHIDA wiped out The Young Bucks, but Omega sprayed him with something from the floor. Omega then sprayed his pits and crotch, but burned himself spraying his crotch. KUSHDIA nailed him with a dropkick, but the ref was distracted and Nick tossed a trashcan at him. Omega hit his own version of more bang for your buck on the floor with a garbage can, which was pretty awesome. The Young Bucks played the Terminator theme on a couple of trash cans while Omega hit a big flip dive. This is fantastic! They went back and forth exchanging big blows. Omega hit a big slap to the face, but KUSHIDA managed to block a suplex attempt. KUSHIDA finally caught Omega with a kick and both men were down. KUSHIDA fired up and hit a springboard chop. He hit a handspring elbow a short time later and went for the hover board lock after floating around Omega, but he quickly got to the ropes. They went back and forth and KUSHIDA caught Omega against the ropes with a handspring kick. KUSHDIA followed up with a huge senton off the top to the floor to wipe out Omega.
Omega sold his arm as he got into the ring and KUSHIDA hit a moonsault for a 2 count. KUSHIDA set up for the hover board lock again, but Omega blocked it. KUSHIDA went after Omega’s arm, but he managed to escape with a suplex. They battled up top and KUSHIDA went after Omega’s arm up top. He positioned Omega in the kimura and drove him down to the mat off the top. KUSHIDA continued to go after Omega’s arm. They went back and forth and KUSHIDA hit a baseball punch that decked Omega. The fans fired up and KUSHIDA went for a corkscrew press, but Omega rolled out of the way. KUSHIDA hit several kicks on Omega’s arms and went for a handspring, but Omega caught him and hit Croyt’s wrath! KUSHDIA kicked out and went for the hover board lock again. Omega tried to fight it. The Young Bucks tried to grab Omega and drag him towards the ropes. Taguchi finally wiped out The Young Bucks with the trash can. Omega went for the one-winged angel, but KUSHIDA broke free. KUSHIDA hit a huge forearm, but Omega decked him with a jumped knee. Omega then hit a one-armed powerbomb for a near fall. Holy s—t! Omega nailed KUSHIDA with another jumping knee to the head. He set KUSHIDA up on the ropes and nailed him with a running knee. Omega went for the one-winged angel again, but KUSHIDA countered it into a rollup for the win. Holy s—t! What match!
Winner: KUSHIDA to become the new IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champion
Star rating: (****1/4) – This was an amazing match. KUSHIDA worked over Omega’s arm for much of the match and overcome outside interference from The Young Bucks to get the win. The fans were red hot for this incredible presentation with KUSHIDA once again sits on top of the top of the Jr. Hvt. Division.
(5) IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows w/Amber O’Neal) vs. 2015 World Tag League Champions Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe. Anderson slammed Honma during the early going and mocked his head slap, but went for a senton instead. Honma got out of the way and tagged in Makabe, who ran wild on Anderson and hit his baby punches in the corner. Gallows used a chain assited clothesline on Makabe on the floor as Anderson distracted the ref. Anderson and Gallows were going with a white theme for their entrance gear and attire. Makabe eventually got back into the ring and Anderson began working him over. Honma looked to be bleeding from the back of the head as he tried to recover on the floor. Makabe took a sustained beating from Bullet Club. Makabe finally fired back and decked Anderson with a clothesline. The fans fired up and Honma got the hot tag. He ran wild and hit slams on Anderson and Gallows. He then hit a running headbutt on Anderson and the fans applauded. Gallows eventually tripped Honma from the outside and Bullet Club nailed him with a combination of moves inside the ring, but Makabe made the save from the pin.
Anderson hit a big TKO on Honma, but only got a 2 count thanks in part to a cocky cover. Bullet Club set up for the magic killer, but Makabe broke it up. He sent Gallows to the floor with a huge clothesline and they brawled on the floor. Honma was still down inside the ring, but he surprised Anderson with a leaping kokeshi off the ropes. Honma then went up top for a kokeshi and the fans fired up, but Gallows cut him off. Anderson went for a super stun gun, but Honma countered out of it. Anderson finally connected with a running powerbomb, but Honma kicked out at the last second. Wow! Honma blocked a gun stun twice. He then caught Anderson by surprise with a jumping kokeshi and both men were down. Makabe and Gallows went at it and Gallows hit the Gallows pole on Makabe, but he kicked out at the last second. Anderson and Gallows then double teamed Makabe, but he wiped them out with a double clothesline.
Makabe wiped out Gallows and revived Honma with a slap. He tossed him into a diving kokeshi on Anderson. Makabe got Anderson on his shoulders and Honma connected with a kokeshi off the top. Honma then slammed Gallows and went up top. He hit a diving kokeshi. Makabe followed up with the King Kong knee drop for the win! Wow!
WINNERS: Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe to become the new IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions
Star rating: (***1/4) – This was a serviceable match that featured some good back and forth brawling action. It was a lot of fun to finally see Honma get a big moment on a big stage, as he is now an IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champion. The crowd really fired up for him as well. This was a great feel good moment on this event.
An ad aired plugging upcoming NJPW and ROH PPVs. The video package then previewed the rest of NJPW’s big shows for the first-half of the year leading into G1. They announced three shows at Sumo Hall to conclude G1 in August.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto is up next. EVIL was shown on the entrance ramp waving green lasers from both hands. BUSHI then made his way down the aisle with a big axe-like ornament. Naito was out last with a white suit, dark shirt, and black button down. Goto was out next and Kelly said he was the exact opposite of Naito when it came to having heart and passion inside the ring. Naito attacked a cameraman inside the ring as Goto made his entrance. He went right after Naito, who bailed to the floor. BUSHI and EVIL then attacked him from behind. They left the ring and Naito got into the ring and the ref called for the bell.
(6) Tetsuya Naito (w/Los Ingobernables) vs. Hirooki Goto. Goto had the upper hand on the floor, but EVIL ran in and wiped him out. BUSHI was shown wiping out Captain New Japan on the other side of the ring. EVIL wrapped a chair around Goto’s neck and nailed him with a chair shot, as the ref was distracted. Naito set up a table and went for a neck breaker. He then connected with a neck breaker off the apron through a table on Goto and hit his pose in the middle of the ring to a mixed reaction from the fans. The table didn’t appear to break completely. BUSHI eventually tossed Goto back into the ring. Naito continued to work over Goto before he went after another cameraman on the apron. Naito went after the ref after Goto kicked out of a pin. Kelly said Naito was risking a DQ, but he clearly hasn’t seen what Naito has gotten away with since turning heel. Naito tossed Goto into the corner and spit on him. Goto fired back and caught Naito with a huge clothesline off the ropes and both men were down.
Goto got up and went to work on Naito. He capped a big sequence with a bulldog and then a Saito suplex for a two count. Naito fired back and hit a modified face buster. He then went up top and hit a missile dropkick that sent Goto flying across the ring. They battled up top a short time later. Goto hit a big headbutt and connected with a code red off the top for near fall. Holy s—t! Naito fired back and hit an enzuguri and a rolling kick, but Goto didn’t go down until he connected with a flying forearm. They went up top and Naito connected with a top rope hurricanrana for a 2 count. They went back and forth trading blows in the middle of the ring a short time later. Goto finally caught Naito and hit a neck breaker over his knee. Goto went for shouten kai, but Naito slipped out of it. Naito blocked a kick and sent Goto’s leg right into the ref. The ref went down and Goto nailed Naito with a huge clothesline. Goto went for shouten kai, but EVIL ran into the ring and broke it up. BUSHI joined the attack and tried to spray mist in Goto’s eyes, but he got out of the way and it hit EVIL in the face. Goto wiped out BUSHI with a neck breaker over his knee, but Naito hit a low blow and went for his signature flipping pin. The ref recovered, but Goto kicked out at the last second. Goto blocked Destino and eventually connected with shouten kai for the win.
After the match, Goto celebrated with Cpt. New Japan as they walked to the back. Naito was helped to the back and appeared to be smiling.
Star rating: (***1/2) – I would have liked this match more if some of the matches hadn’t relied on outside interference previously on the card. That being said, this was well-done and it was appropriate for Goto to get the win on this stage to finish up his storyline with Naito.
(7) NEVER Openweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata. Both guys ran at each other and began exchanging slaps. Ishii missed a diving clothesline and Shibata missed a roundhouse kick and they came to a stalemate. They both exchanged some big forearms before Shibata caught Ishii with a big knee to the gut as he came off the ropes. Shibata hit some light kicks to Ishii’s head and he fired up. He kicked Shibata across the back and Shibata made a face like a fly had hit him. Ishii then sat down and took a kick from Shibata. Both men took turns sitting down. Shibata brushed off his shoulder after taking another kick from Ishii. Ishii sold Shibata’s next kick, but got up quickly. Shibata wound up and drilled Ishii with a very hard kick and Ishii screamed in agony before collapsing to the mat. Good lord! Shibata took several chops from Ishii and told him to bring it. Ishii hit chop after chop. Shibata kipped up and drilled Ishii with a forearm and he dropped to his feet. Wow! Ishii suddenly fired up and hit a Saito suplex and both men were down on the mat. Both men continued to go back and forth at an incredible pace. Shibata grabbed a rear choke before transitioning to an abdominal stretch, but Ishii managed to get the ropes.
Shibata set up Ishii in the corner and nailed him with punches and chops. Ishii began walking towards Shibata as he threw forearms. Ishii told Shibata to bring it before sending him into the corner with a huge forearm. Ishii returned the favor and hit several boot scraped on Shibata’s face. Shibata told Ishii to bring it and stood up. He began walking towards Ishii, as he nailed him with big forearms. Shibata sent Ishii into the corner with a huge forearm and eventually connected with a big dropkick in the corner. Ishii got up and nailed him with a clothesline right away. Shibata returned fire with a dropkick and both men were down. Holy s—t! Shibata got an arm bar, but Ishii managed to get to the ropes. He hit several kicks to Ishii’s arm. Ishii got up and they began exchanging strikes. Shibata began hitting kicks off the ropes and Ishii returned fire with clothesline, but neither man would go down. They went to a big fighting spirit spot with both guys no-selling everything eventually both men staggered around and collapsed and the fans gave them a big ovation. Holy s—t!
They battled up top and Shibata tried to get a kimura once again. Ishii fought it, but Shibata held on and snapped his arm over the top rope. Ishii fired back and hit a missile dropkick. Shibata got right up, but Ishii hit a big clothesline. Shibata kicked out at 1 and the fans gasped. Ishii hit a sliding clothesline, but Shibata kicked out at the last second. They got up and Ishii absorbed several blows, but went for a German. Shibata hit an enzuguri, but Ishii no sold it. Shibata then wiped him out with a clothesline and both men were down once again. Shibata got a choke on the mat a short time later. The ref checked on Ishii’s arm. Ishii got up top his feet and grabbed the ropes. Shibata let go and nailed Ishii with a big kick. Ishii ducked a penalty kick and took a kick to the back. Ishii then caught Shibata’s leg when he went for the penalty kick and hit a crazy headbutt to Shibata’s chest. Both men were slow to get up. Ishii began nailing Shibata with running lariats. They then began trading headbutts. That’s not smart at all. Shibata caught Ishii with a dropkick, but he kicked out at one. Shibata hit a lariat and Ishii kicked out at one. Ishii hit a huge lariat, but Shibata managed to kick out at 2 and the fans fired up. They went back and forth and Ishii took a huge sick and got up. Shibata then set up Ishii and hit the penalty kick for the win. Wow!
WINNER: Katsuyori Shibata to become the new NEVER Openweight Champion
Star rating: (****1/2) – Aside from the headbutts towards the end, this was an amazing all-out war of attrition. These two had an amazing back and forth all-out war. Both men come across like legitimate tough guys that you wouldn’t want to mess with. It’s nice to see Shibata get a singles title win in NJPW. That was incredible.
A video package aired for A.J. Styles challenging Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP IC Championship. Styles came out first wearing a Bullet Club mask that covered the lower half of his face. Nakamura was out next wearing a flashy red shirt. This was definitely a toned down entrance from Nakamura’s usual standards. This is a first-time singles encounter.
(8) IWGP IC Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. A.J. Styles. Nakamura went after Styles’s arm and he got the ropes. Nakamura offered a reluctant clean break. They had a quick exchange in the middle of the ring with both guys countering each other until they came to a stalemate. Nakamura offered his signature rope break a short time later. Styles shot an imaginary bullet at Nakamura, but he caught it and ate it. That was great. Nakamura took control and hit a big knee drop. He made the cover mocking Styles’s hand gesture, but Red Shoes wouldn’t count the pin. Styles went up top, but Nakamura tripped him to the mat and Styles sold his back. Nakamura turned his back and Styles suddenly popped up and wiped him out from behind. Kelly sold outrage because Nakamura had done the right thing and backed away with Styles appearing to be hurt. Styles worked over Nakamura for a long period of time. They went back and forth until Nakamura finally caught him with a back breaker and both men were down. Nakamura followed Styles to the floor and got a running start to drive him into the barricade. Nakamura set up inside the ring for a Boma Ye a short time later, but Styles got out of the way. Nakamura set up Styles on the top turnbuckle a short time later and nailed him with his signature running knee.
Nakamura went for another running knee in the corner, but Styles got out of the way and hit his signature springboard forearm smash. Styles favored his back as he went on the attack. Styles favored his back several times while trying to suplex Nakamura, but he eventually sent Nakamura into the corner with a snap suplex. Styles got the calf cutter a short time later, but Nakamura got to the ropes. Nakamura fired back with a back cracker and a reverse power slam a short time later. The fans fired up with Nakamura back on the offensive. He set up for another Boma Ye, but Styles stepped out of the way. Styles then rolled through on Nakamura and got the calf cutter in the middle of the ring. Styles really cinched in the hold and Nakamura screamed, but ended up rolling over. Nakamura grabbed Styles arm for an arm bar, but Styles dropped an elbow right onto his face to break free. Wow! Styles got a torture rack before spinning Nakamura down to the mat with a slam for a 2 count. They went back and forth and Nakamura hit a Boma Ye off the turnbuckles, but he was too weak to make a cover. Both men got to their knees and began exchanging forearms a short time later. They got to their feet and continued to exchange blows as the fans fired up. The pace increased as the crowd got into the exchange. Styles finally hit a big sit out face buster and he rolled Nakamura over for a nearfall.
Styles went for his signature combination of strikes, but Nakamura countered it and fired back with his signature kicks. Nakamura no-sold a Pele kick from Styles and nailed him with another Boma Ye for a near fall. Nakamura didn’t hook the leg when he made the cover. Nakamura charged at Styles, but he caught him by surprise with a Boma Ye! Styles went up top and hit a 450, but Nakamura kicked out at the very last second and the fans applauded. Holy s—t! Nakamura blocked a bloody Sunday attempt. Styles went for a backfist, but Nakamura countered it into a flying arm bar. Nakamura got the arm bar and dragged Styles away from the ropes. Styles clasped his hands and got on top of Nakamura, so he grabbed a triangle. Styles then stood up and turned the arm bar into a Styles clash for a nearfall. Are you f—– kidding me? A one-armed Styles clash? Wow!
Styles hit Bloody Sunday and went for another Styles Clash, but Nakamura blocked it. Styles hit an axe kick and set up for the Styles clash again. He stopped and tossed Nakamura into the corner. Styles went up top and set up for a top rope Styles clash. Nakamura slipped out and nailed Styles with a kick to the head. Nakamura then hit a backwards super falcon arrow for a near fall. Wow, wow, wow! Nakamura set up in the corner and nailed Styles with a vicious Boma ye. The fans fired up and Nakamura set up in the corner and hit another Boma ye! Nakamura then made the cover for the win. Holy s—t!
Nakamura offered Styles a fist bump after the match and Styles accepted. Wow!
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the IWGP IC Championship
Star rating: (****3/4) – This took some time to get going during the early going, but it was great throughout. The story early was Styles going after Nakamura’s leg and Nakamura going after Styles’s back. They then went full bore going back and forth with some great counters. Styles hitting the Boma Ye was incredible and of course, Nakamura kicking out of the one-armed Styles clash was fantastic as well. This was one hell of a war.
They went to a video package for the Okada vs. Tanahasi main event.
Hiroshi Tanahasi made his entrance first with his G1 Climax 25 briefcase in hand. Kelly mentioned the record between Tanahashi and Okada is 3-3-1. Of course, Tanahashi has not lost at WK to Okada, which is the big story here. The lights went out and came back on to show Kazuchika Okada in a spotlight. He spread his arms to show his jacket and the IWGP Hvt. Championship. Okada was accompanied to the ring by Gedo. Money came down from the rafters as Okada made his to the ring. Kelly mentioned that out of the 22 IWGP Hvt. Title defenses on Jan. 4 the title had only changed hands seven times.
(9) IWGP Hvt. Champion Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. The opening bell rang and the fans fired up chanting for both men. Tanahashi and Okada stood in the ring and soaked in the moment before going at it. Okada backed Tanahashi into the ropes and teased slapping him before tapping him on the chest. Tanahashi went for a slap, but Okada ducked it and nailed him with an uppercut. Okada knocked down Tanahashi with a big forearm, but Tanahashi managed to return the favor a short time later. Both men stood face-to-face and jawed back and forth. Tanahashi slapped Okada across the face and they went at it. Okada finally sent Tanahashi to the mat with a running kick to the head. They went back and forth on the mat exchanging long headlocks. Tanahashi eventually hit a shin breaker and then a chop block on Okada’s leg. Tanahashi began working over Okada’s leg. Tanahashi went for a cross body, but Okada rolled through and went for a tombstone. Tanahashi slipped out of it and ended up on the apron, but Okada managed to dropkick him to the floor. Okada eventually went to the floor and sent Tanahashi over the barricade to the floor with a big running boot. Okada then got a running start and nailed Tanahashi with a big splash over the barricade. Kelly mentioned that Tanahashi had done the same thing to Okada last year at Wrestle Kingdom.
Okada ended up going to the outside to retrieve Tanahashi and he tossed him back into the ring to break the ref’s count. Tanahashi caught Okada with a boot in the corner and went for a senton, but Okada got out of the way. Okada hit a DDT and followed up with a diving uppercut for a two count. Tanahashi finally ducked a back senton attempt from Okada. He eventually connected with a dropkick to Okada’s leg and both men were down. Tanahashi continued to target Okada’s leg. Okada went to the outside. They battled near the turnbuckles and Tanahashi got a hold of one of Okada’s leg and hit a dragon screw across the middle turnbuckle. Kelly mentioned that Tanahashi had now put in extensive work on both of Okada’s legs. Tanahashi hit another dragon screw on Okada’s leg over the middle rope and he screamed in pain. Okada got a running start and hit a sling blade on the apron. He then went up top and hit a high fly flow to the floor and the fans gasped! Both men were down on the floor after that exchange. Tanahashi got back into the ring, but Okada stayed motionless. He finally began to stir and he stumbled around before barely beating the ref’s 20 count. Tanahashi went for a cloverleaf and Okada tried to fight out of it. Okada struggled, but managed to get to the bottom rope before Tanahashi could turn him over. Tanahashi went right back after Okada’s leg. Okada countered him and hit the emerald frozien onto his injured knee on Tanahashi and both men were down again. Wow!
Both men got up and began exchanging blows. Kelly and Striker plugged NJPW’s “New Year’s Dash” show the following night. Okada and Tanahashi continued to exchange forearms as the fans fired up. Okada finally nailed Tanahashi with a big dropkick. He set Tanahashi up in the seated position and nailed him with several dropkicks before making the cover for a 2 count. Okada set up on the outside and went up top. Tanahashi got to his knees and Okada nailed him with an incredible dropkick all the way across the ring. He made the cover, but Tanahashi managed to get the ropes at the last second. Okada set up for the rainmaker, but Tanahashi ducked it. Okada caught Tanahashi and went for a tombstone, but Tanahashi rolled him up for a 2 count. Tanahashi finally kicked Okada’s leg to stall his momentum. Okada went for another kick, but Tanahashi nailed him with yet another dragon screw. Okada went for a dropkick, but Tanahashi ducked it and hit a dragon screw. Tanahashi then got the Texas cloverleaf. Okada tried to fight getting turned over, but Tanahashi sat down on it. Okada struggled, but finally got the ropes. Tanahashi hit a sling blade a short time later and went for the high fly flow but missed. Okada slowly got back to his feet and lifted Tanahashi into a tombstone. Tanahashi fought out of it and hit a twisting neck breaker. Okada got right up with him and hit a tombstone. Okada signaled for the rainmaker once again and connected. Okada then made the cover, but Tanahashi kicked out at the very last second! Wow!
Okada went up top and hit high fly flow, but Tanahashi kicked out at the last second. Okada went for another rainmaker, but Tanahashi countered it and hit a rainmaker of his own and both men were down. Holy s—t! The fans fired up with both men down and they chanted for both men. The camera panned the audience as both men recovered. Both men got up and Tanahashi kicked at Okada’s knee. He went for another kick, but Okada blocked it and went for a tombstone. Tanahashi tried to block it and eventually escaped. Okada then went for a rainmaker, but Tanahashi hit a sling blade and a dragon suplex for a near fall. Holy s—t! Tanahashi went up top and hit a high fly flow to Okada’s back. He went up top for a traditional high fly flow and connected, but Okada kicked out at the very last second. OH MY GOD! Tanahashi went up top again and waited for Okada to get to his feet. He went for a high fly flow, but Okada nailed him with a huge dropkick. Tanahashi writhed around on the mat in pain. What a spot that was!
Tanahashi tried to block the Rainmaker. Okada held on and Tanahashi continued to try to fight out of it. Tanahashi broke free and slapped Okada across the face, but he caught him coming off the ropes with a huge dropkick. Wow! Okada went for a rainmaker, but Tanahashi ducked it. Okada hit a German and held on. Tanahashi blocked a rainmaker with a slap to the face. Okada held onto Tanahashi’s wrist and screamed before nailing him with two rainmakers! He then lifted Tanahashi up and hit a third rainmaker. The ref then made the count for the win. Holy s—t! That was amazing.
Striker said Okada can now take his place as the ace of NJPW. What a story between Tanahashi and Okada. Wow. Okada and Tanahashi were both shown down on the mat. The ref checked on both men.
Okada was presented with the IWGP Hvt. Championship after the match. Tanahashi was helped to the back. Gedo put over Okada on the mic after the match and the audience applauded. He then handed the mic to Okada and pumped up the fans. Okada said Tanahashi is strong, but he won the match. Okada said to stay tuned. The fans chanted for Okada, who posed on the turnbuckles. Okada then walked back up the entranceway with Gedo. Fireworks went off and Okada grabbed a mic on the stage. He yelled his words to conclude the show. Tatsu said Okada said he was the Rainmaker.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada to retain the IWGP Hvt. Championship.
Star rating: (*****) – These two told a perfect story. They went back and forth the entire match with neither man giving an inch. Tanahashi did extensive work on Okada’s leg and even hit him with his own finish. Okada also managed to hit a high fly flow at one point for a near fall. The counter wrestling and the build to big near falls down the stretch was amazing. What a presentation of pro wrestling!
Brief thoughts: (10.0) Amazing show overall. This will be a strong show of the year contender for 2016. Okada completing his journey was the perfect ending to this amazing show. It was a flawed show in some ways, but the quality of the big matches on the card more than delivered.
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