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New Japan “Dominion” PPV Report
June 19, 2016
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
New Japan’s big prelude to the G1 Climax tournament is airing live on New Japan World.
(a) Tenzan & Kojima & Nakanishi beat Jay White & Juice Robinson & David Finlay at 7:55 in a six-man tag match in Jay White’s send-off match to ROH. The match built to a battle between White and Tenzan, breaking down into a six-man brawl. Back to Tenzan and White, who got trapped in an Anaconda neck vice submission from Tenzan, forcing White to tap out. (**1/2)
After the match, White sold massive disappointment with the loss. The legends helped White to his feet to show him respect before he leaves for the U.S. for his excursion. After they left the ring, White took the mic for a farewell speech, speaking mainly in Japanese. Very impressive pre-show action and verbal.
Live PPV Undercard
After a full rundown of the PPV line-up (biggest pops for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title match and main event IWGP World Title match), the familiar sound of Bullet Club’s theme music played to bring out the new B Team. The Captain led out Team “Bullet Club Hunters” in a new camouflage suit for the occasion.
1 — YOSHITATSU & TOGI MAKABE & CAPTAIN NEW JAPAN vs. BULLET CLUB (ADAM PAGE & BAD LUCK FALE & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI) — six-man tag match
Before the bell sounded, Page used his noose to hang Yoshi over the top rope as Yoshi tried to do Triple H’s water-spit entrance. Once the pre-match brawl settled down, the match officially started. And then it broke down again with Fale using a section of the front-row guardrail to choke Makabe on the floor. Chaos everywhere. Page then nailed Yoshi with a running Shooting Star off the ring apron to the floor.
Back in the ring, Bullet Club isolated Yoshi as the crowd tried to rally behind Yoshi in his Triple H/DX green trunks. Tag to Makabe, who had a big-man battle with Fale. They knocked each other down, then more chaos broke out. The crowd thought the ol’ Captain had a chance to get a rare win with a top-rope headbutt on Page, but Page escaped a pin just before three. Page then hit a reverse Tombstone on Captain for the pin and the win. Afterward, Page hung Captain over the top rope with his noose.
WINNERS: Bullet Club/Page at 7:05. Basic opener to warm up the crowd and get over Bullet Club’s new B-Team leader, Page. (**)
2 — CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & TOMOHIRO ISHII) vs. L.I.J. (BUSHI & SANADA)
The former TNA wrestler Sanada carried himself like a big star during his ring entrance after re-inventing himself. So deliberate and smooth. YOSHI wanted a piece of Sanada, who instead decided to let BUSHI start the match. So, BUSHI used his L.I.J. t-shirt to choke YOSHI, drawing boos. Sanada then tagged in to huge boos. He answered the boos with a textbook, Okada-like dropkick as Ishii continued to stew on the ring apron.
Tag to Ishii, who teed off on BUSHI with a chop/slap combo in the corner. Tags to Sanada and YOSHI, who flew at Sanada with a head scissors take down. Sanada then did an amazing Ric Flair upside-down flip in the corner into a springboard dropkick to YOSHI. Sanada followed with a fireman’s carry cutter, but YOSHI kicked out just before three. Ishii then neutralized BUSHI and nailed Sanada with a lariat. That allowed YOSHI to put Sanada in a neck-crank submission. BUSHI tried to break it up, but Ishii took him out, YOSHI re-applied the hold, and Sanada was forced to tap out. Big celebration for an exhausted YOSHI afterward.
WINNERS: Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI via submission at 7:54. Big heat on this match with the crowd wanting to see YOSHI get revenge on Sanada. They got it with the dramatic ending. This was a really good undercard tag match. (***)
3 — CHAOS (HIROOKI GOTO) vs. L.I.J. (EVIL)
Forearms started flying as soon as Goto hit the ring to face the former Watanabe. The grudge fight moved to the floor, where Goto punished EVIL with whips into the guardrail. EVIL then used a chair on the floor to slow down Goto, who nearly got counted out before returning to the ring.
A big mid-ring collision followed with lariats flying. Goto finally landed a knock-down clothesline to regain control of the match. Another mid-ring exchange followed, then EVIL nailed a big lariat that turned Goto inside-out. EVIL did a throat-slash across Goto’s neck, then wanted his finisher, but Goto blocked. Headbutts rocked EVIL, then Goto nailed a fireman’s carry drop across his knee. He followed with his new GTR lariat/neckbreaker finisher for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Goto at 9:50. A hard-hitting, physical match with the L.I.J. henchmen getting their comeuppance in back-to-back matches. EVIL still needs some polish, but Goto was good. (**3/4)
Live PPV Title Matches
In-ring: The Young Bucks were out first for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Title match. On the way to the ring, they shouted out to Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, and A.J. Styles (now in WWE as The Club). ReDragon was out next with focus on Bobby Fish’s ROH TV Title belt. RPG Vice was out next, followed by the defending champs Ricochet & Matt Sydal sporting “Wrestling Is An Art” t-shirts.
4 — IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag champions MATT SYDAL & RICOCHET vs. RPG VICE (ROCKY ROMERO & TRENT BARETTA) vs. YOUNG BUCKS (NEVER Openweight Six-man Tag champions NICK & MATT JACKSON) vs. REDRAGON (KYLE O’REILLY & ROH TV champion BOBBY FISH) — four-team elimination match for IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Titles
Sydal and Nick Jackson started the match. Nick was sporting tape over his mid-section to highlight his rib injury one month ago. Early on, the teams felt each other out with one-on-one situations not requiring a tag. Suddenly, everyone ganged up on Baretta, trying to dump him over the top rope (since there is an over-the-top elimination allowed). But, Romero made the save for his teammate. RPG got the spotlight with offense on all three teams, then Romero went wild on everyone individually. The big spotlight meant … the Young Bucks suddenly dumped both members over the top rope for the first elimination.
*** RPG Vice eliminated at 8:20 ***
ReDragon tried to eliminate the Bucks, but they skinned the cat and hung onto the top ropes. The tag champs then charged the Bucks trying to eliminate them, but the Bucks ducked and Sydal & Ricochet eliminated ReDragon over the top rope to the floor. ReDragon was gone from the match, but they angrily returned to the ring to nail Ricochet with Chasing the Dragon.
*** ReDragon eliminated at 9:28 ***
The Bucks comically tried to take advantage of Chasing the Dragon by pinning Ricochet, but Ricochet kicked out just before three. The Bucks then went to work on Ricochet as Sydal looked for a tag. Ricochet suddenly got a burst of offense, then tagged in Sydal. Double Shooting Star Press to Nick’s ribs, but Nick kicked out of a pin.
The tag champs landed innovative offense to the Bucks, then Sydal wanted a top-rope finish, but the Bucks blocked in time. Ricochet was nearly eliminated in the process, but Sydal saved him from hitting the floor. Superkick Party to Ricochet, then one for Sydal. Suddenly, Matt caught Sydal in the corner and flipped him into Tombstone position. Nick followed with a springboard spike into the Tombstone. The IndyTaker was good for the pin and the win. The Bucks immediately celebrated being five-time, five-time, five-time champions, “tributing” Booker T, bringing their careers full circle.
WINNERS: Young Bucks at 17:22 to re-capture the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Titles. A fine title match with the four teams playing well off each other. Ricochet is so good that he needs to be highlighted in more singles settings, like the BOSJ match against Will Ospreay. (***)
Speaking of which … Will Ospreay was out to the ring next for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title match. Big reaction for Ospreay coming off his BOSJ tournament victory to get the title shot. KUSHIDA was out next to an equally strong reaction for his latest title defense in a re-match from Ospreay’s first NJPW match at “Invasion Attack” in April.
5 — IWGP Jr. Hvt. champion KUSHIDA vs. BOSJ 2016 Winner WILL OSPREAY — IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title match
Big-time feel to this match as the bell sounded. KUSHIDA and Ospreay felt each other out, with Ospreay trying to act like a tough-guy to intimidate KUSHIDA. The champ quickly humbled Ospreay by targeting his left shoulder looking to set up for the Hoverboard Lock later in the match. A mid-ring battle followed with Ospreay ending up getting knocked to the floor. KUSHIDA followed with a flip dive to knock down Ospreay on the outside. Ospreay dove back into the ring at 19, and KUSHIDA was waiting for him to deliver a dropkick to the head.
KUSHIDA continued to work on Ospreay until Ospreay got a burst with a combination of moves ending with a top-rope corkscrew press for a two count. Ospreay followed with a windmill kick to the head, then both men traded moves and countered each other on their feet. Suddenly, KUSHIDA caught Ospreay in the Hoverboard Lock after catching him in mid-air. But, Ospreay escaped and answered with a top-rope Shooting Star Press, but KUSHIDA kicked out.
After a reset, Ospreay tried the OsCutter springboarding off the ropes, but KUSHIDA caught him in mid-air for the Hoverboard Lock. KUSHIDA wrenched the hold, targeting the left arm/elbow, and Ospreay was forced to tap out.
Ospreay sold disappointment after the match, then KUSHIDA called him back to the ring. KUSHIDA extended his hand and Ospreay shook to applause. Ospreay bowed, then KUSHIDA fell to the mat selling exhaustion. KUSHIDA eventually celebrated to the back still on top of the Jr. Hvt. division.
WINNER: KUSHIDA via submission at 15:00 to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title. It had a big fight feel early on, but they lost some steam mid-way through. Perhaps it was back-to-back Jr. Hvt. matches making this not feel as special. Strong finish, but not quite the energy-charged, epic conclusion to BOSJ season that seemed inevitable with this match-up. (***1/4)
6 — IWGP tag champions GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY (TAMA TONGA & TANGA LOA) vs. THE BRISCOES (JAY & MARK BRISCOE) — IWGP World Hvt. Tag Title match
Tama and Wildman Mark Briscoe started things off for their teams. Mark landed some impressive chops before tagging in Jay, who stomped a mudhole in Tama in their corner. The teams traded control for a while, then the tag champs cut off Mark and worked on him. Hot tag to Jay, who dropped Tama with a neckbreaker for a two count.
Chaos broke out, then The Briscoes had Tama alone in the ring. The Briscoes wanted the Doomsday Device, but Loa grabbed Mark from the outside to crotch him. The Guerrillas followed with a double-team Samoan Drop on Mark for a two count. Both teams sold exhaustion from the battle, then Jay nailed an impressive double underhook Jaydriller on Loa, but he kicked out just before three.
The Briscoes wanted the Doomsday Device on Loa, they fought off Tama trying to break it up, and they nailed their double-team finisher. Jay covered Loa for the pin to win the IWGP Tag Titles for the first time in their careers.
WINNERS: Briscoes at 14:06 to capture the IWGP World Tag Titles. Big career victory for the Briscoes, ending an okay title reign for the Guerrillas. The tag division needed some juice and it will be interesting to see if the Briscoes can have some good matches with New Japan’s roster. Or, the Bullet Club B-Team… (**1/2)
Post-match, the celebration was short-lived, as Bullet Club’s Adam Page and Yujiro Takahashi hit the ring to attack the new champs. Page hung Mark Briscoe over the top rope with his noose as Yujiro posed with Page. Page & Yujiro eventually bailed from the ring to boos before the Briscoes recovered and received the tag belts.
Video Package: Yuji Nagata. He’s back in the spotlight as NEVER Openweight champion. “Blue Justice Never Dies.” Can he defeat Shibata again tonight? Shibata was out first with his straight-line, no-nonsense walk to the ring looking to kick someone, anyone tonight. Yuji Nagata then dramatically emerged on-stage joined by his generation of Kojima, Tenzan, and Nakanishi. Shibata has to go through everyone to win back that title.
7 — NEVER Openweight champion “Blue Justice” YUJI NAGATA vs. “The Wrestler” SHIBATA — NEVER Openweight Title match
Slow and steady feeling-out process with neither man wanting to make an early mistake. Suddenly, Shibata hit Nagata with a loud kick, Nagata fired back, and they came to a standstill to a big reaction. Shibata then trapped Nagata in a submission bending Nagata’s arm backward trying to take away his left arm.
Shibata followed with hard kick strikes, but Nagata no-sold and punted Shibata hard in the chest. Shibata initially sold, then knelt on the mat welcoming more punishment. Shibata no-sold this time and slowly stood up, only to be knocked down by another hard kick strike. Shibata responded with offense, then both men came to their feet for a big mid-ring exchange. This turned into Super Strong Style with both men popping up from suplexes, lariats, and kick strikes until a double knock down put both men on the mat. Wow.
They came back to their feet and Shibata put Nagata in a twisting abdominal stretch, which Nagata eventually broke. Nagata followed with a sleeper looking to position him for the PK, but Nagata fought and blocked. Back drop hold, and Nagata kicked out just before three. PK, but Nagata ducked at the last second. Nagata then slapped on the Nagata Lock in the middle of the ring. Nagata got The Look in his eyes to a huge pop, but Shibata broke free of the hold.
Reset, then Nagata tried to follow up, but Shibata surprised him with the sleeper hold in the middle of the ring. Nagata faded, then Shibata dropped the hold and nailed the PK kick to the chest. Shibata covered for the win to dramatically end Nagata’s resurgence.
Post-match, both men slowly recovered. Shibata received the title belt, then approached Nagata and bowed in front of him. Big respect. Nagata patted him on the back, then Tenzan, Kojima, and Nakanishi entered the ring to applaud Shibata. Big respect moment, then Shibata left the ring with the title. Nagata and Co. took a curtain call as Shibata straight-lined it to the back after reclaiming the title. Meanwhile, Nagata slowly made his way to the back for what felt like the end of a chapter in his career.
WINNER: Shibata in 15:00 to re-capture the NEVER Openweight Title. Big endorsement for Shibata as the next big singles star for New Japan. He had to go through a journey of respect for the previous generation by defeating the aging, but respected veteran Nagata to get to the next level. Well done. (***1/2)
Video Package: New Japan aired an intentionally goofy video on the first NJPW ladder match for Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin for the IWGP IC Title.
In-ring: Michael Elgin was out first replacing Tanahashi against Kenny Omega. Omega then came to the ring with his back-up in the form of Page and Takahashi. Omega walked underneath a ladder like Scott Hall/Razor Ramon. Lots of ladders around ringside, like a WWE TV episode promoting MITB. Omega hit the ring and placed the IWGP IC Title belt on a hook, which was then suspended above the ring.
8 — IWGP IC champion KENNY OMEGA (w/Adam Page and Yujiro Takahashi) vs. MICHAEL ELGIN — IWGP Intercontinental Title match — first-ever NJPW ladder match
Ref Red Shoes sent Page and Yujiro away from ringside, then Elgin and Omega were ready to go. Suddenly, Red Shoes thought he spotted some activity under the ring. He went on a hunt to find the Young Bucks hiding under the ring, drawing laughs. Red Shoes sent them to the back after crotch-chopping them for good measure. Cue the bell.
Omega angrily charged Elgin, who absorbed an early attack. Omega went looking for a ladder, but Elgin cut him off on the floor. Omega absorbed and smashed Elgin with the ladder. Omega then nailed a big flip dive to the outside. He called for back-up, producing Page & Yujiro. They tried to subdue Elgin for Omega to climb a ladder in the ring, but Elgin broke free and grabbed Omega in time.
Elgin then used the ladder against all three Bullet Club members, drawing applause and “El-gin, El-gin” chants. Elgin followed with a hard corner whip sending Omega crashing into the ladder. Elgin then suplexed Omega onto a ladder and tried a slingshot splash, but Omega moved and Elgin crashed into the ladder. Moments later, Elgin sent Omega to the floor, then he splashed all three Bullet Club members with a flip dive. Big move from the big-man.
Elgin retrieved a smaller ladder thinking about a feat of strength. What did he have in mind? He wanted to deadlift suplex Omega from the ring apron while standing atop the ladder, but Omega hit Elgin in the head with a stop sign, perhaps even a garage sale sign produced from under the ring. Omega then dove over Elgin with a sunset flip powerbomb off the ladder.
Back on the floor, Omega placed a ladder horizontally across the ring and guardrail, wowing the crowd. Omega wanted a suplex, but Elgin countered with a front-face suplex across the ladder, bending it in half. Elgin then lawn-darted Omega into the ladder after propping it up against the ring apron.
Back in the ring, Elgin climbed a ladder looking to get the title, but Omega smashed him with one of the road signs. Omega followed with a double jump moonsault before starting his climb. The crowd oohed the teaser, then Elgin took Omega off the ladder with an electric chair. Elgin followed with a big back body drop bending the ladder in half, wowing the crowd again.
Big Mike then set up a ladder across two trashcans in the middle of the ring. Elgin wanted to end Omega with a superplex off the top rope, but Omega blocked at the last second. Omega then showed some crazy strength dead-lift gut-wrench suplexing Elgin into the air and slamming him through the ladder. That was impressive from Omega.
Omega got up and comically set up the broken ladder, teasing climbing it. He then kicked it away and hit Red Shoes in the shin. Omega angrily threw down the ladder on the floor before retrieving a fresh ladder. Omega tried to climb the new ladder, but Elgin grabbed him at the last second to powerbomb him into the corner. Elgin then went to town on Omega with standing lariats before tossing the ladder into Omega’s face.
Elgin tried a corner powerbomb, but Omega suddenly countered with a reverse huracanrana. Big move for both guys delivering and taking that move. Omega followed with Tanahashi’s Slingblade move, drawing loud boos from the crowd. Omega then climbed the ladder, but Elgin cut him off. Elgin wanted a big superplex off the ladder, and he connected to loud applause. Both men sold on the mat for a while after the big move.
Reset, then both men climbed the ladder facing each other. They battled on top of the ladder trading forearms and strikes. And they suddenly both fell off the ladder to the mat nearing the 30-minute mark. The match moved to the floor, where Omega pulled out two random card tables. Omega placed Elgin on the tables, then climbed a ladder looking for a moonsault, but Elgin recovered and blocked. Elgin then climbed up the ladder, grabbed Omega, and powerbombed him off the card tables. A big thud for Omega landing on his back and the tables not breaking. Geez.
Elgin returned to the ring and set up a ladder in the middle of the ring. As Omega sold on the floor, Elgin started climbing looking like he was going to win. Suddenly, the Young Bucks hit the ring and sprayed Elgin in the face to prevent him from climbing. Superkicks to Elgin. The Bucks then handcuffed Elgin to the corner turnbuckle. Suddenly, Captain New Japan ran down to the ring, but the Young Bucks superkicked him, too. Yoshitatsu then ran down the ramp, but he got superkicked, too.
Matt Sydal decided he wanted to get involved. He started running down to the ring, but stopped and threw up the peace sign. The Bucks turned around to see Ricochet flying at them with a big flip dive. Ricochet and Sydal tried to un-cuff Elgin, but Omega resurfaced and knocked them out of the ring.
It looked like Omega was going to climb the ladder and grab the belt, but Elgin suddenly dramatically broke free of the cuffs. On commentary, Togi Makabe freaked out over elgin’s super-heavyweight feat of strength. Elgin then approached the ladder as Omega was on the top rung and pushed it over, sending Omega crashing to the outside into a pile of bodies. Elgin then climbed the ladder, touched the belt, climbed one more rung, and unhooked the belt to win and become new champion.
Post-match, Elgin stood tall in the middle of the ring with Yoshi, Captain, Sydal, and Ricochet. Meanwhile, the Bucks helped Omega to the back as he sold the effects of a grueling match. Elgin eventually made his way up the entrance ramp with the title belt around his waist following a big career victory. “Unbreakable!” Togi declared on commentary.
WINNER: Elgin at 33:33 to capture the IWGP IC Title. That was a heck of a ladder match. The crowd ate up everything seeing a live ladder match for the first time and the match finished with a great conclusion of Elgin & Co. finally neutralizing Bullet Club’s heel tactics. Overall, Elgin was great in his role and Omega had a star-confirming performance. Both men should be proud of this match. (****1/2)
Video Package: IWGP World Title feud between Naito and Kazuchika Okada. Back in the arena, New Japan flashed through the history of IWGP World champions. Hey, there’s Nakamura, Brock, and Styles. Drop that coin and it’s Okada Time. Okada emerged on the stage as Okada Bills flew in the air. No sign of Gedo.
Naito then emerged on-stage holding the IWGP World Title belt. Naito, in a bright white suit and black & white darkness mask, stood on the stage joined by the other L.I.J. members. Naito very slowly made his way down to the ring, making Okada wait a long time. Naito, cockily chewing gum, kicked aside a few Okada Bills as he soaked up the mixed reaction to his heel persona, like Bray Wyatt enjoying the light-show while playing a false hero heel. Naito stopped at ringside and approached New Japan president Kidani. Kidani reluctantly stood up, reluctantly extended his hand, and Naito shook. Naito then slowly entered the ring and threw down the IWGP World Title belt to boos.
During formal ring intros, Okada received 80 percent cheers and 20 percent boos. Meanwhile, Naito received thunderous boos. Interesting shift from when Naito won the title. Loud “Okada, Okada” chants before the bell sounded. Okada appears to have been humbled by the title loss. Naito then took forever to remove his suit, owning the moment. Okada and Naito came face-to-face with Okada asking for one-on-one without his henchmen present. Naito talked to his men and asked them to leave after a collective fist bump. Cue the bell.
9 — IWGP World Hvt. champion NAITO (w/L.I.J.) vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA — IWGP World Hvt. Title match
The crowd was red-hot once the bell sounded. Big fight feel to the main event. Naito soaked it up by slowly walking around the ring before locking up, now making Okada wait a good 10-15 minutes since his ring entrance to do anything physical. Lock-up and Okada pushed Naito to the ropes before doing his trademark chop tease and pull-away. Suddenly, a match broke out and Okada dropped Naito to the mat. So, Naito rolled right out of the ring to boos. Tranquillo. Naito stood there until the ref got to a 15 count and slowly rolled back into the ring. Okada then nailed a kick to the head sending Naito to the floor as the announcers talked about A.J. Styles.
On the floor, Naito raked Okada’s eyes to boos before bodyslamming him on the ramp. Naito then slowly walked up the entrance ramp to boos, teasing leaving. Actually, he stopped, turned around, and ran down the long ramp to deliver a giant flying dropkick to Okada. Naito then promptly returned to the ring and did his chill pose while waiting for Okada to return to the ring.
Back to the floor, where Naito repeatedly whipped Okada into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Naito worked on Okada as the crowd continued to boo the champ. Naito’s slow, methodical pace allowed Okada to recover and come back with a hard lariat. Naito again rolled to the floor, drawing in Okada. Naito knocked him down on the ramp, then spit into the crowd. Naito slowly walked up the entrance ramp thinking about leaving, then he suddenly saw Okada on the videoboard. Naito turned around and took a running dropkick from Okada on the stage.
Okada dragged Naito down the ramp back into the ring, where Naito blocked a lariat and nailed a neckbreaker. Naito followed with a top-rope missile dropkick for a two count. Naito again too a while to follow up, allowing Okada to recover and put Naito in a mat submission. But, Naito made it to the bottom rope for a rope break. Okada followed with a top-rope elbow drop.
Rainmaker Pose. Zoom out. Some of the crowd booed Okada setting up for the lariat, which Naito countered with a suplex, drawing loud boos against Naito. Naito smirked, then hit a combination corner attack into an atomic drop and STO. They traded submission hold attempts until Naito locked Okada in a cradle neck vice. Okada fought, teased tapping, waved his arm frantically selling losing feeling in his body, but he finally extended his foot to reach the bottom rope for a break.
As Okada recovered, Naito placed Okada on the top turnbuckle and nailed a Frankensteiner. Naito teased Okada’s Rainmaker to boos, but Okada blocked and slapped him across the face. But, Naito nailed a spinebuster. Super counter sequence until Okada hit a neckbreaker across his knee to put both men on the mat selling the effects of the match at 22:00.
Reset with the two men trading blows from their knees. Cheers for Okada and boos for Naito. Naito smirked as he managed to knock down Okada to the mat. Okada sold defeat as he recovered in the corner, but he caught Naito with a dropkick into a sliding kick. And another. But, Naito kicked out of a pin.
Naito suddenly flew at Okada with a flying forearm, then wanted Destino, but Okada blocked. Textbook Dropkick from Okada. And now they entered money territory. The crowd came together in one voice wanting Okada to win. Naito blocked a Tombstone, then hit half of Destino. The crowd booed loudly as Naito set up for a full Destino, but Okada countered with a Tombstone. Okada screamed, then set up Naito for the Rainmaker, and he connected. Okada covered, but Naito kicked out. Wow. The crowd went nuts for that nearfall.
Reset at 28:00 with both men recovering on the mat. Okada nailed a German Suplex, maintained his grip, wanted the Rainmaker again, Naito blocked, Naito rolled up Okada, and got a two count. Okada then picked up Naito and hit a Rainmaker, then a second. The crowd was nuts wanting Okada to end it. Third Rainmaker. Okada covered and scored the pinfall on a lifeless Naito for the win. Okada is new champion again. Post-match, Okada sat in the corner recovering as Naito was helped out of the ring.
WINNER: Okada at 29:01 to re-capture the IWGP World Hvt. Title. (CHAOS 3-0 vs. L.I.J. on the PPV.) What a match. The crowd was fully-engaged in Okada as champion again after the experiment with Naito. There was resistance building for Okada, New Japan took away Okada as champion and embraced Naito’s popularity, and once the crowd was ready for Okada again following a humbling process and not liking Naito disrespecting the title, New Japan went back to Okada as top champion. Okada is the franchise player, especially with questions over Tanahashi’s future, and it sets up an interesting G1 tournament with the new champion the favorite to win the Hvt. tournament. (****1/4)
Dramatic music played and Okada was presented with the IWGP World Title belt. Jay White offered his final act strapping the belt around Okada’s waist before disappearing from the ring. Okada stood tall with the title belt, then asked for the mic. Okada had a few things to say. (1) He proudly declared himself IWGP World champion again. (2) G1 Climax. Okada vowed to win the tournament. Okada was super-fired up, then he closed the promo and streamers fell on Okada as his music played. Okada posed for the crowd in the ring before leaving to the back.
The NJPW World broadcast stayed with the post-show press conference in the locker room area. Okada was joined by his CHAOS stablemates to celebrate the title win. Everyone grabbed a drink and toasted Okada’s victory. Okada then talked about his title victory as he caught his breath and looked at the title belt.
In the main events, the crowed booed the heels, cheered for the faces. How very different from the current WWE scene.
I’m not one much for ladder matches, and definitely not fond of heavy outside interference, but the Omega-Elgin was about the best of this kind of match I’ve seen.
During the Nigata-Shibata match, the announcers repeated “This is New Japan” and talked about “strong style”. This is in contrast to what we’ve seen so far from Nakamura in WWE, though the match with Sammy perhaps came closest. The Nigata-Shibata match, like many Shibata matches, is a level beyond most of the fluff we see in WWE/American wrestling.
I loved the main event but I wish that they had kept Okada chasing until Wrestle Kingdom 11. Naito is an absolutely amazing heel and the crowd is fully invested in him. It would make sense to have a run where Okada has to get himself back into the picture for redemption and honestly the longer they can keep the belt off of Tanahashi and Okada to keep it fresh enough to truly build a bigger upper card, the better. I’m hoping Naito’s title run wasn’t a one-off. He’s the perfect character to emerge with Nakamura out of the scene. They need a unique character among the top draws and Naito is extremely good with his mannerisms, how he gets heat with announcers, refs, everyone at ring side in addition to his heat with his opponents. Just a totally fresh, well played heel character that I hope gets another run at the top.