RADICAN’S NJPW Big Match Spotlight – 12/15 “Road To Tokyo Dome” The Golden Lovers vs. Ospreay & Tanahashi

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist

Kota Ibushi return update
Kota Ibushi (art credit Matt Charlton and Sam Gardiner © PWTorch)


DECEMBER 15, 2018

Announcers: Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton

Kevin Kelly said Will Ospreay vs. Kota Ibushi would open Wrestle Kingdom 13 on Jan. 4. Ospreay came out first. His partner, G1 Climax 28 winner Hiroshi Tanahashi, was out next. Charlton said the IWGP Hvt. Championship was the holy grail for him. It is not the means to an end for him, but instead it is the end. Tanahashi posed on the turnbuckles with his G1 Climax 28 briefcase.

The Golden Lovers came out next. Kevin Kelly called their reuniting the moment of the year. Charlton said Omega has a continued drive to be better and to him the IWGP Hvt. Championship is not the end, but it is the means to an end. Kevin Kelly asked if the title Best Bout Machine means more to Omega than the IWGP Hvt. Championship and Charlton said he thinks that is true. Omega said at the WK press conference it isn’t about who has the stronger theology, but who is stronger. Charlton said that Tanahashi will be preoccupied with his theology while Omega is just out to win a fight.

Omega stood behind Tanahashi as he took his ring jacket off and Tanahashi turned around and Omega held the IWGP Hvt. Championship up.

THE GOLDEN LOVERS (IWGP HVT. Champion KENNY OMEGA & NEVER Openweight Champion KOTA IBUSHI) vs. G1 Climax 28 Winner HIROSHI TANAHASHI & WILL OSPREAY – 60 minute time limit

The bell rang and the fans chanted for Ospreay and Ibushi before they went at it. The announcers talked about their match at WK being a first time ever singles match. They had a great back and forth exchange during the early going. Omega ran into the ring and Ospreay tossed him to the floor. He teased a dive and posed in the middle of the ring. Ospreay and Ibushi went at it again and came to a stalemate after they both went for dropkicks at the same time. Tanahashi and Omega then tagged in. Omega was still wearing his t-shirt. The fans chanted for Tanahashi. Tanahashi and Omega went back and forth and Tanahashi caught Omega with crossbody out of the corner. Tanahashi and Ospreay then worked together to take down Omega and played some air guitar. Omega fired back on Ospreay and took his shirt off and used it to choke him. Ospreay and Ibushi went at it. Ibushi decked Ospreay with a big forearm. Omega then tagged in and choked him in the corner with his boot. Kelly pointed out that Ibushi is conflicted when it comes to Omega’s antics in the ring, as he doesn’t like breaking the rules. Charlton said Ibushi is somewhere in the middle when it comes to his ideology between Omega and Ibushi.

Ibushi used a body scissor on the mat to work over Ospreay’s ribs. Omega tagged in and went after Ospreay’s ribs in the corner. Ospreay fought off Omega nnd knocked Ibushi off the apron. He tried to tag out, but Omega grabbed his leg. Omega avoided an enzugrui attempt from Ospreay and knocked Tanahashi off the apron. Ospreay fired back with a handspring kick off the ropes and tagged in Tanahashi, who went to town on Omega in the corner. Omega went for a kick a short time later, but Tanahashi caught it and hit a dragon screw. The announcers mentioned Tanahashi’s road back from physical ruin over the last several years. The action broke down and The Golden Lovers grabbed Ospreay and tossed him over the top to the floor. They then connected with the Cross Slash to wipe out Tanahashi and Ospreay. WOW! Omega and Ibushi went for their combination You Can’t Escape, but Ibushi landed short on his SSP attempt on Tanahashi. Ospreay then cut off Omega up top and powerbombed him on top of Ibushi and all four men were down. WOW! That was nuts!

Tanahashi fired up and began exchanging blows with Omega in the middle of the ring. Omega ducked a Sling Blade attempt and hit a snap dragon, but Tanahashi got right up and hit a Sling Blade and both men were down. That was an amazing sequence! Both men tagged out. Ospreay went for a springboard, but Ibushi cut him off. Ibushi went for the deadlift German over top from the apron, but Ospreay fought him off and hit a springboard forearm. Ospreay and Ibushi began exchanging blows in the middle of the ring. Ospreay hit several forearms, but Ibushi wouldn’t go down. Ibushi fired back with a quick series of strikes. Ospreay and Ibushi went back and forth and Ibushi finally caught him with a German with a bridge for a near fall. That was nuts! Omega tagged himself in and booted Tanahashi off the apron. Omega lifted Ospreay for a suplex, but he turned it into a stunner! Omega went for a snap dragon, but Ospreay landed on his feet. They went back and forth and Omega ended a big sequence with a surprise V-Trigger. Omega then went to bounce off the ropes, but Ospreay caught him with a one man Spanish Fly for a near fall right before the 20 minute mark. HOLY S–T! Ospreay hit the Robinson Special. He set Omega up in the ring and went up top as the fans fired up. Ibushi cut Ospreay off and went for a super hurricanrana, but Ospreay landed on his feet! WOW! The cameras caught the look of surprise on Ibushi’s face and Ospreay sneered behind him after landing on his feet. What an incredible shot from the production team!

Both men began exchanging blows. Ibushi hit a couple of huge kicks and they went back and forth. Ibushi slipped out of a powerbomb attempt and hit a HUGE clothesline. He went at it with Tanahashi and ate an inverted dragon screw. Omega hit the Sling Blade on Tanahashi and posed to the fans. The fans booed. WOW! The Golden Lovers set up for The Golden Trigger on Ospreay, but Tanahashi broke it up only to eat a double V-Trigger. They set Ospreay up for The Golden Shower, but Ospreay popped up and hit a DOUBLE SPANISH FLY!!!! Tanahashi then went up top and hit the High Fly Flow on Omega. Ospreay came off the top with a HUGE SSP off the top on Omega, but Ibushi made the save. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! WOW!

All four men were down at the 25 minute mark. Ospreay set up Omega for the Stormbreaker, but Omega got out of it and hit a poison rana. Ibushi then nailed him with Last Ride. Omega hit a nasty arm trap variation of a sit-out powerbomb on Ospreay. He nailed Ospreay with a HUGE V-Trigger. He then set up for the One-Winged Angel, but Ospreay tried to counter it into a hurricanrana. Omega blocked him and lifted up Ospreay, but he turned it into a dragoncanrana! HOLY S—T. Omega blocked the Oscutter and held Ospreay for Ibushi, but Ospreay ducked and Ibushi hit Omega with a huge kick to the head. Ospreay and Tanahashi then hit stereo straightjacket Germans on The Golden Lovers for a double near fall. WOW!!! Ospreay measured Omega and went for the Oscutter, but Ibushi jumped up on the apron and cut him off. Omega ran up to the apron and grabbed Ospreay. Ospreay fought out of the One-Winged Angel only to take the IndyTaker from The Golden Lovers! Tanahashi broke up the pin! The Golden Lovers cleared the ring and hit The Golden Trigger on Ospreay for the win. What a match!

WINNERS: Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi in 29:00. (****¾)

After the match, Kelly said Omega and Ibushi had an advantage as a team over Tanahashi and Ospreay, but they might not have that advantage at Wrestle Kingdom. Kevin Kelly said this was the best match he’d seen in NJPW this year. Tanahashi and Omega glared at each other with Ibushi between them. That was a great visual.

The Golden Lovers had their hands raise by the ref. Omega got on the mic and cut a promo in Japanese. He said it’s not about age, but experience. He said he thought his way of thinking was right and that Tanahashi is wrong. He said perhaps they’re both wrong and this style of match that they just had is the best style of pro wrestling. He said he still doesn’t like Tanahashi. He said at the Tokyo Dome he might do one or two bad things, but until then… He then asked if he heard something. He said it was Santa Clause. He said it’s going to be a white Christmas. Instead of his catchphrase, they’re going to sing a song. He said if they were blessed with snow, they could sing. Omega then began singing White Christmas and it began snowing in the building.

Omega said it’s been awhile since he could sing. He asked Ibushi if he had anything to say. Ibushi said he doesn’t have anything to say. Omega grabbed the mic and said it was cold. Ibushi said he knows after this match, that he and Ospreay will have a classic at Wrestle Kingdom and on Jan. 5 he wants to tag with Omega again. Omega said since Ibushi doesn’t have a catchphrase, he will do his. Omega then hit his catchphrase in English as the “snow” continued to fall. Charlton said on commentary he wasn’t so sure the snow was good for him.

They went backstage and Omega said Tanahashi had avoided him, but tonight he was able to suckle a little life out of Tanahashi’s old body. He said Tanahashi still has a little bit of life left in him and that makes him excited for Tokyo Dome. Their match gives him something to look forward to in 2019. He said he was going to put Tanahashi over his knee and spank that grandpa ass of his on Jan. 4. He said it was a pleasure to do it with Ibushi by his side. Ibushi said he left it all in the ring. He knows he and Kenny are going to have the very best matches and classics. Kenny said he had a sore head after the match. Omega asked if he actually sang out there tonight while holding his head. Ibushi said no more singing for Kenny. Omega said they should have a sing song, but Ibushi said no. Omega said he gave a little too much today, but he was setting an example for The Young Lions. He said they came from DDT, but they are in NJPW. He said they’re the future. He said to watch, learn, and take notes. Omega then said Merry Christmas before leaving with Ibushi.

Radican’s Analysis: This was an incredible match from start to finish. They did a ton to spotlight Ibushi vs. Ospreay and Omega vs. Tanahashi during this match. There are so many little things that I picked up watching this match to think about heading into Wrestle Kingdom. The most fascinating part of the match was seeing Ospreay step up and show that he’s going to be a force in the heavyweight division sooner rather than later.

It was great to get a look at what might happen during the Ospreay-Ibushi and Omega-Tanahashi matches at Wrestle Kingdom and the announcers did a fantastic job talking about the ideological differences between Omega and Tanahashi heading into their match at Wrestle Kingdom 13.

There were so many memorable moments coming out of this match, but the moment I won’t forget was the shot the production crew got after Ibushi went for a top rope hurricanrana and Ospreay landed on his feet. The look of shock on Ibushi’s face like he knew Ospreay had landed on his feet was incredible. The look on Ospreay’s face was fantastic as well. If you’re looking for a reason to get excited about Wrestle Kingdom, definitely go out of your way to see this match.

NOTE: You can watch this match for free on Fite.tv

Contact Sean at radicansean@pwtorch.com. Follow him on Twitter @sr_torch

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