RADICAN’S NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2019 PPV report: Liger vs. Suzuki, Ibushi vs. EVIL, Okada vs. SANADA

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @sr_torch)


EVIL (art credit Matt Charltonn and Sam Gardiner © PWTorch)

KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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RADICAN’S NJPW KING OF PRO WRESTLING 2019 REPORT
OCT. 12, 2019
TOKYO,JAPAN
RYOGOKU KOKUGIKAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPW WORLD

Announcers: Kevin Kelly, Gino Gambino, and Chris Charlton

The show started with the ring announcer saying Zack Sabre Jr. and Jon Moxley wouldn’t be able to make the show due to the weather in Japan and changes had been made to the card. They apologized to everyone for them not appearing. They said because Moxley couldn’t defend the IWGP U.S. Championship, he had been stripped of the title. The ring announcer then read the new card, which included Lance Archer vs. Juice Robinson for the vacant IWGP U.S. Championship. Kevin Kelly said he had just arrived at the venue 10 minutes ago.

(1) Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) beat Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) in 10:45. Kevin Kelly mentioned that the Super Jr. Tag League would begin this coming Wednesday. Desperado pinned SHO to win the match in his comeback from injury.

(2) Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi beat Togi Makabe & Toru Yano in 9:45.

(3) L.I.J. (Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) beat Taichi & DOUKI via DQ in 9:00.

(4) JYUSHIN LIGER vs. MINORU SUZUKI

Kelly said this issue has been boiling for six months. Liger came out dressed as Battle Liger. This version of Liger hasn’t been seen since 2012. This is Liger’s final Ryogoku match. The announcers said someone was going to get hurt in this match. Liger spit in Suzuki’s face and got down on the mat. Suzuki got on top of Liger, but Liger shook him off and the fans applauded. Suzuki got got an arm submission and turned it into a kimura, but Liger got the rope with his foot. Suzuki got on his back and told Liger to bring it. Liger eventually got a triangle and Suzuki tried to free himself. He eventually got to the ropes for the break. Liger whipped Suzuki into the guardrail several times on the floor. He got a chair and the ref tried to take it away. This allowed Suzuki to nail him with a running kick. Suzuki got a chair. He nailed Liger over the back with it several times. The announcers said the match wasn’t No DQ. Suzuki tried to take Liger’s mask off, but he couldn’t do it. He told Liger to stand up. Suzuki decked Liger with some big shots.

Liger blocked a running kick attempt and went on the tack. Suzuki shrugged off a palm strike in the corner, but ate a Shotie. Suzuki choked Liger and he went limp. Suzuki let go and Liger suddenly popped up and put Suzuki in a double arm position. Liger continued to work over Suzuki’s arm. Suzuki suddenly grabbed a choke. Liger tried to throw him off, but Suzuki stayed with the hold. The fans fired up and Liger got back up to his feet. Suzuki let go of the choke and went for the Gotch , but he couldn’t get Liger up. Liger hit a backdrop to escape. He went on the attack and this time was successful with a brainbuster for a nearfall. Suzuki fired back and surprised Liger with a HUGE dropkick. They went to a strike exchange and Suzuki smiled after taking several strikes from Liger. He then sent Liger down to a knee with a series of strokes of his own. Liger hit several big slaps to Suzuki’s face and Suzuki screamed at him. LIger went for a big blow, but Suzuki measured and decked him with a forearm.

Suzuki shook off a palm strike from LIger and went for the Gotch. He got the hook in and hit it as the crowd gasped.

After the match, Suzuki got a chair and he cleared the ring of The Young Lions. He teased hitting Liger, but then stopped. He kneeled down before Liger and bowed to him as the fans applauded. Suzuki appeared to be crying as he left the ring. The fans stood and applauded. The announcers said Suzuki wanted the man behind Liger and he got him.

Liger got on the mic after he recovered. He said, “Thank you Suzuki” and left the ring.

WINNER: Minoru Suzuki in 17:40. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a great hard-hitting match. Liger was a blast to watch under this version of his gimmick. Both men left it all in the ring and although Suzuki came out on top, Liger was great here and this was a special match and the post-match was incredible.)

Kevin Kelly said El Phantasmo had been staying at the NJPW Dojo during the typhoon and it was humbling being there and being immersed in the history of NJPW. He wrote a tweet saying his actions had been the opposite of what NJPW stands for. He said he was embarrassed that winning the Super J Cup was overshadowed by his behavior. He said there would be no Bullet Club at ringside and no hijinks during the match.

ELP came out wearing his gold Super J Cup jacket. Will Ospreay was out next carrying the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship.

(5) IWGP JR. HVT. CHAMPION WILL OSPREAY (W/ROBBIE EAGLES) vs. 2019 SUPER J CUP WINNER EL PHANTASMO (W/TAIJI ISHIMORI)

ELP is already 2-0 against Ospreay. Ospreay’s title is all that is left for ELP to capture in the jr. hvt. Division. ELP told Ishimori to go to the back and was true to his word that there would be no BC members at ringside. Ospreay then sent Eagles to the back. ELP offered a handshake, but Ospreay wouldn’t accept. They had a crazy exchange early and came to a stalemate. Ospreay nearly took off ELP’s head to end it. ELP offered another handshake. Will said no, so the ref shook his hand. ELP wanted a test of strength. The fans applauded. They went back and forth out of the test of strength position. Both men ended up doing a double bridge and ELP gave Ospreay a little slap to the face. He offered Ospreay a handshake and Ospreay slapped him across the face. They traded forearms and ELP caught Ospreay in the eye. He said he didn’t mean to. Ospreay went to the corner while the ref checked on him. ELP offered his hand and said it was an accident. He helped Ospreay up and then raked his eyes. He then dragged Ospreay down to the mat by his hair. Gambino sold joy on commentary. ELP hit a rope walk into a rana and Ospreay went to the floor. ELP teased a dive and then hit Ospreay’s pose. Ospreay wiped him out with a missile dropkick. He then hit a space flying tiger driver and the fans fired up.

Ospreay glared at Gambino at ringside doing commentary and tossed ELP right into him. Kelly went nuts on commentary. Ospreay went for a springboard, but Gambino was in the way. ELP suddenly popped up and tossed a chair right into Ospreay’s head as he went for a springboard. They brawled to the top of a section in the stands. ELP joined Ospreay on top of the section that hovered over a door that went backstage. They traded blows while nearly falling to their demise. Ospreay got the upper hand, but ELP raked his eyes. Ospreay got tossed off, but managed to hang onto the barricade. ELP stomped on his fingers and he fell to the floor. ELP then hit a big splash that wiped out Ospreay and a Young Lion. WOW! Both men finally ended up back inside the ring with ELP in control.

ELP was posing over Ospreay who was hung upside down in the corner. Ospreay suddenly sat up and hit a German. He then hit a sick sounding chop on ELP in the corner a short time later. Ospreay hit a rolling kick off the ropes and went up top. He missed a couple of moonsault attempts and hit a standing SSP! He then right into an Infrared for a nearfall! WOW! ELP went for a top rope rana, but Ospreay landed on his feet. They went back and forth and Ospreay countered ELP and hit a cutter. He went for the Os-Cutter, but ELP caught him on his shoulders and hit a spinning rack bomb and both men were down. ELP went for CR2 multiple times, but Ospreay escaped. Ospreay hit a big kick to ELP’s head and hit a springboard cutter from the guardrail to the apron. WOW!

ELP barely beat the 20 count and Ospreay nailed him with a coast-to-coast dropkick. Ospreay followed up with a top rope SSP. He hit the Robinson Special and the Os-Cutter, but Ishimori pulled the ref out of the ring. Ishimori went after Ospreay in a repeat of what happened at the Super J Cup. The fans booed. Ishimori got the belt, but Robbie Eagles ran down to the ring and hit a missile dropkick. He then wiped out Ishimori with a crazy flip dive through the ropes. ELP grabbed the title belt, but missed Ospreay with it. Ospreay hit a hook kick, but ELP ducked the hidden blade. ELP tossed the title to Ospreay and hit a low blow. He got rid of the title and went up top. ELP hit a big splash, but Ospreay kicked out at the last second. The fans applauded.

ELP hit Cheeky Nandos on Ospreay. He then got Ospreay up on his shoulders up top and hit a super spinning neck breaker. He made a cover, but Ospreay kicked out again at two! ELP went for CR2, but Ospreay tried to fight out of it. ELP then turned it into a Styles Clash for a nearfall! WOW! He then hit a V Trigger on Ospreay bringing up shades of Kenny Omega. He went for a One-Winged Angel, but Osreay rolled him up for a nearfall. Ospreay then hit a one man spanish fly calling back to Amazing Red and both men were down as the 25 minute mark passed! They went to a big strike exchange and Ospreay hit a flurry of kicks and a jumping neckbreaker for a near fall. Ospreay set ELP up on the mat and went up top, but ELP shoved the ref into the ropes. ELP went for CR2 off the top, but Ospreay got out of it. He went for another super hurricanrana with both men standing up top, but Ospreay turned it into a sick powerbomb. Ospreay pulled himself up and hit a HUGE hidden blade. Ospreay then hit the Stormbreaker for the win.

WINNER: Will Ospreay to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title in 28:00. (****1/2)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was an amazing match. They moved the story of the match along in stages starting with ELP’s promise to play this match clean to his reveal that he was going to play it dirty. Ishimori interfered down the stretch, but Ospreay overcame all of ELP’s dirty tricks and won the match. This was an amazing match that combined fantastic storytelling with in-ring action.)

(6) (IWGP IC Champion Jay White w/Gedo & Yujiro Takahashi & NEVER Openweight Champion KENTA) beat CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii) in 12:30. Takahashi won the match for Bullet Club when he pinned Goto. Ishii and KENTA got into it after the match and several people tried to pull them apart as they went to the back. Goto pointed at White’s title and White told him no. He said he’s not even in the picture. White also went up to Tanhashi who was on commentary and taunted him. White said he was going to be double champion at Wrestle Kingdom. Kelly shouted that White’s plan was to put the belt on ice.

Rocky Romero joined the commentary booth. Kelly said it’s a NJPW rule that people are stripped of their title if they cannot appear. Juice Robinson came out wearing a big fluffy hat, sunglasses, and a furry cape that matched his tights.

Archer got on the mic and said the people paid to see a No DQ match, so tonight, Robinson’s ass would die in a No DQ match and he would be the U.S. Champion. Robinson accepted in Japanese.

(7) LANCE ARCHER vs. JUICE ROBINSON – NO DQ VACANT IWGP U.S. HVT. CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Robinson got a pinning combination for a two count during the early going. He then hit a spear through the ropes with Archer on the apron and the fans fired up. Robinson used a chair on the outside to work over Archer’s back. Robinson set up for a cannonball against the guardrail, but Archer cut him off with a big boot. Archer cleared a table at ringside. Archer hit a chokeslam on Robinson over the guardrail and through a table. He then went after one of the Young Lions with a chair before hitting Robinson with it. Archer went around the ring taking the turnbuckle pads off. He eventually removed them all. He then went and hit Robinson with a chair across the back. He teased hitting the ref with a chair before putting it between the ropes in the corner. He went back to where Robinson was and hit him with another chairshot across the back. Archer tossed a table into the ring. He went under the ring and got another table. He went after Robinson and then wiped out a young Lion at ringside. Archer set up a table in the corner. He then set up another table in the opposite corner. He tossed Robinson into the chair set up between the ropes in one of the corners.

He then sent Robinson into the chair set up in the opposite corner. Archer made the cover, but only got a two count. Archer walked around the top rope while holding Robinson’s hand, but Robinson finally managed to clip his ankle. Robinson sold his hand like it was damaged. He managed to hit a superplex on Archer, but he only got a two count. Romero said that Juice said he had dislocated his finger. He went for the Left Hand of God, but Archer blocked it. Robinson hit a right hand and then the Left Hand of God. He then hit a running cannonball on Archer that sent him through a table set up in the corner, but he kicked out at two. Archer fired back and pounced Robinson through the table. Both men went to the outside and tossed several chairs into the ring. Robinson managed to hit the chair Archer was holding out of his hands with his chair, but Archer punched the chair he was holding into his face. Robinson blocked a chokeslam attempt. Robinson blocked the EBD Claw and hit the Juice Box for a two count. Robinson stacked the chairs that were in the ring.

Robinson went for Pulp Friction onto the chairs, but he slipped and Archer choke slammed him onto the pile of chairs. Archer piled up the chairs and set up Robinson on the top turnbuckle. He set up for Blackout and connected with it on the chairs, but Robinson kicked out! Archer lost his mind. Archer slammed the back of Robinson’s head into the chairs over and over. He then applied the EBD Claw with his knee on Robinson’s chest and got the win.

He held the EBD Claw on Robinson after the match. The Young Lions tried to help, but he wiped them out. He then put the EBD Claw back on Robinson. David Finlay ran into the ring and wiped out Archer. Kelly said Finlay had been out with an injury for months. Finlay countered a stunner and hit an acid drop variation and Archer went to the floor.

WINNER: Lance Archer in 15:00 to become the new IWGP U.S. Hvt. Champion. (**¾)

(Radican’s Analysis: The action was solid, but it dragged as both men tried to set up plunder inside the ring. Finlay showing up after the match was a nice surprise.)

Kota Ibushi came out with a new briefcase that held his contract from winning G1. It had Ibushi’s white, blue, and gold color pattern.

(8) G1 CLIMAX 29 WINNER KOTA IBUSHI vs. EVIL – IWGP HVT. CHAMPIONSHIP RIGHT TO CHALLENGE MATCH

Nobody has ever beaten the G1 Winner since NJPW started putting up the contract in matches seven years ago. After an early feeling out period, Ibushi took EVIL down with a dropkick as he came off the ropes. Kelly mentioned Chris Samsa’s stats and most notably that EVIL had a 5-7 record in singles matches in 2019. EVIL fired back and clotheslined Ibushi to the floor. EVIL dominated until Ibushi mounted a comeback and hit a high mid kick. EVIL fired back and hung Ibushi in the ropes and then stomped him down into the mat. EVIL charged at Ibushi in the corner, but Ibushi jumped over him and connected with a double stomp. Ibushi’s timing on that maneuver was impressive. EVIL fired back and dropped Ibushi’s neck over the top rope with a cutter a short time later and both men were down with Ibushi inside the ring and EVIL on the outside.

EVIL put a chair around Ibushi’s neck and connected with his homerun swing on the outside. EVIL hit a superplex a short time later for a two count. Ibushi caught EVIL with a misdirection and connected with a jumping rana and both men were slow to get up. They battled up top a short time later. Ibushi fell to the apron after taking a headbutt. Ibushi got back down and jumped up off the apron and hit a hurricanrana that took EVIL back into the ring for a two count. Ibushi got double wrist control and tried to get the Kamigoye, but EVIL countered it. EVIL went for Darkness Falls, but Ibushi countered. EVIL went for a German, but Ibushi landed on his feet. Ibushi hit a clothesline and EVIL didn’t move. EVIL then hit a forearm and a big clothesline for a two count and the fans fired up. That was a great exchange. EVIL then hit Darkness Falls and this time he was successful. Ibushi blocked Everything is EVIL and got a near fall. He then wrapped up EVIL’s arms and legs and hit a sick piledriver and both men were down.

Ibushi got up and hit the Last Ride for a near fall. Ibushi set up for the Boma Ye, but EVIL was ready and he wiped him out with a big clothesline. EVIL went for EIE again, but Ibushi blocked it and hit a wrist lock suplex. EVIL’s shoulders weren’t down, so the ref didn’t count. EVIL ducked a Kamigoye, but EVIL hit a half and half suplex and then another and both men were down. WOW! EVIL set up for a big lariat, but Ibushi surprised him with one of his own to turn EVIL inside out. Ibushi went for the Kamigoye once again. EVIL blocked it and they went back and forth. Ibushi hit a headbutt, a jumping knee, and eventually connected with a Kamigoye for a great nearfall. Ibushi connected with another Kamigoye and it was good for the win.

WINNER: Kota Ibushi in 24:00 to retain the IWGP Hvt. Championship Right to Challenge contract. (****¼)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a very good match. It took some time to get going, but then it got really good as it went on. Every time Ibushi got on track, EVIL would regain control and it wasn’t until Ibushi strung together a big string of moves down the stretch that he put him away.)

Ibushi has now defended his contract successfully against both men that beat him during G1. It appears that his road to Wrestle Kingdom is now clear.

(9) IWGP HVT. CHAMPION KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs. SANADA

Okada went for a shotgun dropkick right after the bell, but missed. Both men threw bombs. Okada went for several dropkicks and missed. He went for a dropkick off the ropes and missed. Okada went for the Muta Moonsault and missed, but landed on his feet. SANADA went for Skull End and Okada countered it. Both men went for dropkicks at the same time and came to a stalemate. WOW! What a sequence! The pace slowed down after the hot start. Okada backed SANADA into the ropes and teased hitting SANADA, but he tapped him on the chest instead. Okada hit a shoulder tackle and posed while smiling. Okada hit a neckbreaker a short time later. Okada took SANADA to the floor and eventually hit a running kick that sent him over the guardrail. SANADA countered a draping DDT off the guardrail and hit Total Anarchy off the guardrail (draping twisting neckbreaker).

Okada got back into the ring and SANADA made a cover for a two count. Okada ducked a moonsault and hit a sliding forearm and both men were down. The pace quickened and Okada took SANADA down with a running elbow off the ropes. SANADA did his float over the ropes, but Okada nailed him with a springboard dropkick to cut off SANADA’s usual springboard dropkick. This was Okada’s first successful dropkick of the match. Okada sent SANADA over the guardrail. He got a running start and hit a HUGE running splash that sent him and SANADA flying into a drow of chairs. The ref was on the verge of counting SANADA out, but Okada stopped his count. SANADA limped back towards the ring and rolled inside. SANADA tried to hit Okada from his knees, but he had nothing on his strikes. SANADA got to his feet and hit several strikes, but Okada sent him stumbling into the ropes with one forearm. SANADA fired back and hit his signature dropkick off the ropes. He immediately hit a slingshot splash to the floor to wipe out Okada and the fans applauded.

SANADA tied up Okada in the Paradise Lock. He stood on top of Okada and cupped his ear. He then went to the corner and hit a big running dropkick on Okada to free him. He made the cover, but only got a two count. The fans chanted for both men, as SANADA’s chants started to match Okada’s. They went back and forth and Okada connected with a shotgun dropkick that he missed to open the match. Okada hit a huge missile dropkick off the top that sent SANADA flying. Okada got incredible height on that missile dropkick. Okada went up top again and this time he dropped an elbow. He hit the Rainmaker pose and the fans gasped and applauded. SANADA ducked a Rainmaker and went for a Skull End. Okaka slipped out and they went back and forth. SANADA went for the Skull End again and Okada got out. He went for it yet again and this time he held it for a moment. Okada tried to turn it into a tombstone, but SANADA reversed it and hit one of his own! WOW! SANADA hit a TKO for a two count.

The fans gasped. SANADA got the Skull End with the scissors locked. Okada shook one hook off. Okada struggled and got his head free. SANADA managed to grab his head again and he applied the Skull End once again on the mat. Okada went for the ropes once gain, but SANADA applied the Skull End yet again with both hooks in. Okada got free again and bridged backwards to get a two count on Okada. Okada began to sit up and he held onto SANADA’s wrist. Okada suddenly shifted position and hit a Rainmaker out of nowhere. He rolled over and put his arm over Okada’s chest for a nearfall. The fans fired up and chanted for both men. Both men got to their knees and began trading blows. They got to their feet and continued to trade. SANADA took an uppercut and shook it off. He then fired back with one of his own that made Okada bend over. He hit another uppercut and Okada nearly went down. SANADA hit another uppercut and Okada went down and the fans sounded surprised. Okada and SANADA went back and forth trading reversals. Okada had Skull End, but hit a dropkick to the back of SANADA’s head. He then caught him with a dropkick off the ropes. SANADA ducked a rainmaker and used the ropes to float over SANADA. He got the Skull End and Okada’s arm began to go limp. SANADA spun Okada around and took him down to the mat with Skull End applied with the hooks in.

Red Shoes checked on Okada to see if he was out. SANADA let got and made the cover for a nearfall. The fans gasped and SANADA went up top and hit the Muta Moonsault to Oakda’s back. He rolled him over and went for another Muta Moonsault, but Okada got his knees up! What a sequence! SANADA went for Skull End, but Okada used the ropes to float over SANADA and he hit a tombstone! SANADA blocked a Rainmaker with a boot, but SANADA hung onto his wrist. SANADA ducked another Rainmaker and got a backwards bridging pinning combination for a nearfall. SANADA ducked another Rainmaker. He got the Skull End and tried to spin Okada around, but he hit an armdrag and a dropkick to free himself! SANADA ducked a Rainmaker and went for one of his own. Okada ducked it. SANADA went for a pop up TKO, but Okada got out of it. SANADA went for the pop up TKO, but SANADA blocked it again. SANADA tried to get the Skull End, but Okada turned it into a Michinoku Driver variation. He then hit the Rainmaker for the win. WOW!

WINNER: Kazuchika Okada in 37:30 to retain the IWGP Hvt. Championship. (****¾)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a great main event. SANADA seemed to have a counter for all of Okada’s Rainmaker attempts, but he just could not hit the Muta Moonsault. SANADA got a great nearfall late with a bridining pinning combination that caused the crowd to gasp. This was one hell of a match, as these two started hot and heavy and never really let up.)

After the match, Okada knelt down next to SANADA, who appeared to be crying. Okada gave him the thumbs up. Okada offered SANADA his hand. SANADA shook it and the fans applauded. SANADA left and the fans applauded Okada.

Okada grabbed the mic and the fans began chanting his name. He shouted out to the crowd. He told them they’re awesome. He said I feel what you feel. I’ve cried. Let’s do it again sometime. He said next time let’s do it in the main event of the Tokyo Dome. Speaking of the Tokyo Dome main event, it looks like it’s pretty much decided. He said Ibushi has avenged his G1 losses, but Okada hasn’t. Ibushi came out and made his way to the ring. Ibushi congratulated Okada. He said right now he wants the IC and IWGP Hvt. Championship. Quite frankly, you’re at the top of the time, it’s not any fun anymore. He asked if it would be okay if he formally challenges him. What the hell are you talking about asked Okada. He said hold on a second. It’s not like you can take the title from me that easily. At the Tokyo Dome, you come at me first, said Okada.

The fans fired up and chanted for Okada. Let’s do it, said Ibushi. The main event for Wrestle Kingdom Night 1 on Jan. 4 is set, as Kazuchika Okada will defend the IWGP Hvt. Championship against Kota Ibushi. Okada said he will retain his title at Wrestle Kingdom. He thanked the fans for coming out during a typhoon. He said the Dojo is flooded and a lot of people are suffering. He says its their job to give them the energy and power to get themselves back on their feet. The fans chanted for Okada. Okada said today they sent their energy all over the world to those affected. Okada then posed in the ring as gold streamers came down around him.

Okada said he forgot to say he would make it rain on Jan. 4. He said he might event make rain both days.

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

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