KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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NJPW KING OF PRO WRESTLING
OCT. 8, 2018
TOKYO JAPAN, RYOUGOKU KOKUGIKAN
REPORT BY TOM LEE
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(1) Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) defeated Jyushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Everyone loves Tiger Mask and Liger so a great way to get the crowd into the day, started with some obvious cheating from Suzuki-gun. The finish came after a low blow to Tiger Mask and some shenanigans with a whiskey bottle.
(2) Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) defeated Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson & Toa). GBH obviously with Honma returning got a huge crowd reaction, all his headbutt spots got a huge reaction… not sure that’s the best thing to be doing but the crowd loved it. It felt like everyone wanted to cheer Juice but because of Honma being in the match they couldn’t.
(3) Bullet Club OG (Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa & Taiji Ishimori) defeated Bullet Club Elite (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson & Hangman Page & Chase Owens). Great match, some really creative spots in between. It’s hard to imagine how over with the crowd Hangman has become in the last six months or so. BCOG have some fans in the crowd but all in all the crowd is definitely into The Elite, Matt was playing up the back injury through the whole match and although it didn’t factor into the finis it was a main part of the story they told in the ring. Owens feels like a bit part player.
(4) Chaos (Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Takashi Iizuka). Standard multi man New Japan match, Suzuki always looks like a killer and the stare down between Ishii was magic. Ospreay is hugely over with the crowd and his big spots get a big reaction. Since last time I attended a show the reaction to Taichi is completely different, there is still the usual “Taichi kaere” (Go home Taichi) but now the counter chant is significantly louder.
(5) Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada & Bushi & X – Shingo Takagi) defeated Chaos (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano & Yoh & Sho). Shingo Takagi was revealed to a huge pop. Anything Naito touches is over so I it makes sense to add a new member especially with Hiromu out with the injury. The match was a mix of comedy and some flashy offense. LIJ was always going to go over but there were moments where Okada has some good offense. After seeing Okada as the champion for so long it still is hard to watch him fumble around in tag matches. Chaos is in chaos with the whole Jay White saga going on, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything happens in the match later on. Yano annoys me, I’m sure Todd Martin is well annoyed at his antics, I was. The crowd likes it… but I’m not a fan.
(6) Evil vs. Zack Sabre Jr. ended in no contest. Jericho came out and attacked Evil before the bell, as per usual strange mask and even stranger face paint. Zack walked around ring side shouting how “bullsh*t” this was and demanding a match, the crowd on the other hand which was overwhelmingly LIJ looked on concerned for Evil. When Naito ran out the place erupted.
(7) Kushida defeated Marty Scurll for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Great match, lots of reversals, maybe even too many for my liking, but the crowd was really into the match. Kushida is always going to be a huge fan favorite so I think putting him over here is the right choice. A very decent response for Marty, woop woop calls through out the match. A lot of disappointed Marty fans around me but largely a pro-Kushida crowd.
(8) Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Jay White to retain the Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship challenge rights certificate. White controlled the match through cheating and dirty tactics, Jay has grown into the switchblade character and after the booing and jeers he received in America the Japanese crowd has really jumped on board the “bandwagon” and is booing him like crazy. After the match BCOG came out, which was a huge surprise, Jay has joined them? Or have they formed an alliance? The too sweets probably mean they are part of the BCOG. Okada ran out to save Tanahashi and everyone went nuts! There has been talk and rumors about Tanahashi starting a new faction and this leads right into that.
(9) Kenny Omega (c) defeated Cody and Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Amazing match from start to finish. A lot of scary spots and I wouldn’t want to be the neck of any of the wrestlers involved. Vocally, the crowd was very much behind Kenny with a lot of Ibushi fans as well; Cody is seen as a heel in Japan and thus they reacted that way. Kenny landed right in front of my feet mid-way through the match and I managed to get a great photo. The table spots looked brutal, and the finish was cheered throughout. Tanahashi coming out was a surprise, but gets the ball rolling towards the Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome event. Kenny’s half English and half Japanese promo lacked its usual punch and his closing line translated as “Tokyo Dome might be Go Ace but Ryogoku is Goodbye and goodnight” which makes no sense, but the Japanese crowd just wanted to hear the catch line.
– Naito, for anything he did
– Okada for making the save
– Honma’s headbutt
FINAL THOUGHTS: As per usual the amount of LIJ shirts is insane, it’s at least 50 percent of the crowd. Although to my surprise this time Tanahashi shirts have come back in a big way, last show I attended there were maybe one of two people scattered around. Bullet Club, although the storyline is great, I think confuses a lot of fans as they don’t know whom to cheer and whom to boo and how to feel about the faction right now.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS REPORT: 9/30 NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING FIGHTING SPIRIT UNLEASHED RESULTS: Ongoing results & analysis from Long Beach, Calif including Cody vs. Juice for IWGP U.S. Title, Bucks & Tama Toonga & Tanga Loa, Omega & Ibushi vs. Iishi & Okada