7/2 NJPW in Long Beach, Calif. HOLT Report (Night 2): In-person notes on crowd reactions for each match, other observations from venue

Kenny Omega (photo credit Ted London © PWTorch)


JULY 2, 2017

The venue had the same setup as the previous night. Early arriving crowd was almost 100 percent in their seats before the first entrance. Another complete sellout.

(1) David Finlay & KUSHIDA & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tanaka & Komatsu & YOSHI-TATSU. Big Pop to start the night for Jushin Thunder Liger. Lots of heel heat for YOSHI-TATSU. Liger sold for a while for the heels before the hot tag to KUSHIDA. After a flurry of offense and flying, KUSHIDA sold for a while and then Finlay came in for some strong offense.

WINNERS: Team Liger won at 8:54 when all three members of Liger’s team put their signature submission holds onto all three heels for a triple tap out. (**)

(2) Jay Lethal vs. Kenny Omega – IWGP US Tournament semi-final. The crowd was cheering for Omega even though he was playing the heel. Omega went right after Lethal’s taped side. Lethal did three suicide dives in a row to the outside, threw Lethal back into the ring, followed by a Macho elbow and a figure four leg lock, all in the first five minutes.  At the five minute mark Lethal tried a Lethal Injection which Omega turned into a back stabber. Loud dueling “Let’s go Lethal/Omega” dueling chants. At 11:30 Omega gave Lethal a nasty Bomaye. Omega was mostly in control from here on. He gave Lethal another Bomaye at 12:30 followed by the One Wing Angel for the win at 12:55. (***)

(3) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jack Sabre Jr. – IWGP US Tournament semi-final. Immediate dueling chant of “Let’s go Sabre/Ishii.” Fairly even. They started with a series of dueling forearm strikes to the head followed by one head butt each. Ishii got the better of both moves. Sabre tried a series of leveraged wrestling holds. Ishii’s offense was straightforward and looked painful, including a second nasty headbutt. Sabre’s offense used a variety of wrestling holds, including bridges to twist Ishii’s arms in ways they shouldn’t go. At 8:30 Sabre put Ishii in a Triangle choke for a believable near submission with Sabre fighting to keep one body part at a time from making it to the ropes. Ishii sold a hurt right arm after that. Ishii won at 11:45 with a vertical brainbuster. (***)

(4) Titan & Dragon Lee & Volador Jr. & Jay White & Juice Robinson vs. Takahashi & BUSHI & EVIL & Sanada & Tetauya Naito (Team Los Ingobernables de Japon). The match started with a Dueling Lucha Libre/LIJ chant. Naito and Juice Robinson fought up the ramp, including a Naito doing a surfboard-like move where Naito was pulling Juice’s dreadlocks instead of his arms. Juice was over with the crowd to the point that the crowd shouted “Juice” every time he hit a move. Great Takahashi-Dragon Lee sequence of chops at 8:30. Jay White pinned BUSHI at 12:35 for the win. (**1/2)

(5) War Machine (Hanson & Rowe) & Michael Elgin vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tanga Roa vs. Tama Tanga) & Hangman Page. G.O.D. were announced as accompanied to the ring by Haku. But “accompanied” in this case meant Haku stood with the G.O.D. at the top of the ramp but didn’t go any closer to the ring. That probably was the right call because it would have been hard to play heel with Haku in their corner. Loud Big Mike chant to start. War Machine and Elgin were over big. Lots of hard fought action from both sides but not much to the match. Hangman Page pinned Raymond Rowe after a reverse pile driver at 11:23. (**)

After the match the Chairman of NJPW announced from the ring (in Japanese) that NJPW would come back to the US in 2018.

15 minute intermission.

(6) The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta) for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title. Young Bucks came out to the loudest cheer of the night so far. More pro-Bullet Club cheers.  Lots of high diving as you would expect. Baretta even took a powerbomb on the entrance ramp. Baretta sold that for many minutes as the heels double teamed Rocky. Rocky finally tagged Baretta back in at 9:20. The Bucks hit two 630s in a row at 13:20 for a believable near fall. Nick locked in a sharpshooter at 14:15. Rocky broke it up with a flying drop kick from the top rope.  Baretta gave Matt a sick looking pile driver on the rig apron at 17:00 followed by another pile driver in the ring for a believable near fall. The bucks gave Romero a Meltzer driver on the floor at 20:50 to “Holy S—” chants. Then a chant of “Meltzer.”   Lots of spitting at 22:00. Then a Second Meltzer driver in the ring to Baretta, followed by a double sharpshooter at 22:40 for the tapout win (***1/2 – I would have given it four stars without the spitting and the double submission).

After the match, Ricochet came out and attacked the Bucks. He challenged the Bucks to a title match with Taguchi as his partner. He said he would have been on the card but “a certain Underground company are being pricks.” The Bucks accepted the challenge and Ricochet said he would see them in Japan.

After Ricochet and the Bucks left, Romero said Baretta needed to give the heavyweight division a try and he didn’t want to hold Baretta back. So RPG broke up, now going in new directions.

(7) Will Ospreay & Mark Briscoe & Jay Briscoe & Okada vs. Team Bullet Club (Marty Scurll & Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale & Cody). Okada was the clear headliner at the start of the match. Very loud Okada cheers. Both teams were over, with lots of cheers and applause for many of the participants. Cody got heel heat when he was in the match and he milked it, including a loud “We want Fale” when Cody entered, and he obliged the crowd. Cody did lots of WWE-style stalling which got him even more heat. Okada got Fale up for a body slam at 12:00 to thunderous applause. Fale then took over before tagging in Cody. Good hard sequence between Okada and Cody. Scurll did his finger break spot on Ospreay which got a “You Sick F—” chant front the crowd. Eventually Cody was tagged in and gave a Crossroads to Ospreay for the win at 16:00. (***)

Cody stayed in the ring after everyone else left and got good applause from the crowd who recognized him as a star, even if they wanted to see someone else out there.

(8) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Billy Gunn for the IWGP Intercontinental Title. Huge boos for Gunn, huge cheers for Tanahashi. Gunn knew he was going to be booed and played heel from the start. Loud “Tanahashi” cheers and also “Go Ace” cheers at the start.  Gunn’s slow, plodding pace took the crowd out of it. At 5:00 Gunn threw Tanahashi out of the ring and worked on Tanahashi outside. The crowd was bored so they tried to amuse themselves at Gunn’s expense and it seemed to get under his skin. Tanahashi sold a lot for Gunn. Gunn basked in the boos. Gunn fought 1990s WWF style – slow, one move at a time. At 10:00 Tanahashi got big cheers for pulling down Gunn’s outside trunks to reveal neon green trunks underneath. Big “Go Ace” cheer at that point followed by a “Pull Your Pants Up” cheer. Tanahashi missed the High Fly Flow at 12:40. Gunn got in some offense for a two count. Tanahashi recovered and got a sling blade and a single High Fly Flow for the win at 14:20. (* 1/2). Tanahashi had to sell most of the match and Gunn’s offense looked weak. Gunn bowed to Tanahashi after the match in a show of respect.

(9) Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Title (Tournament Final). Omega came out with the Bucks. Omega was the crowd favorite but there were also Ishii cheers. They fought into the crowd at 4:30. The venue didn’t display the action on the screen, which prompted a “Can’t see Sh–” and “This sounds awesome” chant from the crowd. Big ovation when they got back into the ring. Loud, nasty sequence trading chops at 9:30. Omega with loud chops and a DDT at 11:30. At 19:30 Omega gave Ishii a German Suplex from the ring apron onto a table on the floor. Looked painful. Ishii barely got back into the ring at the Count of 19. Omega kicked him lifeless. Then a Boaye for a believable near fall at 22:20. Ishii gave Omega a Superplex at 24:00 for another believable near fall. Back to trading chops. More trading of near falls. The crowd broke out into a loud “New Japan” cheer. Ishii used Omega’s One winged angel finisher for a near fall at 27:30. Omega gave Ishii a huge knee to the face. Loud Let’s go Kenny/Ishii battle chant about 50/50. Finally, Omega hit the one winged angel for the win at 31:20 (**** 1/4).

Marty Scurll came running down and the chairman presented Omega with the new US Title. Cody came out dressed in a suit. Cody heelishly grabbed the belt from Omega, but then he hugged Omega and put the belt around his waist. Haku and the rest of the bullet club then came out. Omega gave a pro-NJPW pro-Bullet Club promo to end the show.


Omega, Young Bucks, Tanahashi, Okada


Billy Gunn, Cody, YOSHI-TATSU

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS REPORT: 7/1 NJPW in Los Angeles, Calif. HOLT Report: In-person notes on crowd reactions for each match, other observations from venue

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