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NEW JAPAN WRESTLE GRAND SLAM AT TOKYO DOME REPORT
JULY 25, 2021
THE TOKYO DOME
AIRED LIVE ON NJPW WORLD AND FITE.TV
Announcers: Chris Charlton and Kevin Kelly
The crowd looks thin. There’s people on the floor, but hardly anyone in the stands.
Eliminations occur in the upcoming Ranbo match by pinfall, submission, being thrown over the top, or by being handcuffed. Wrestlers come out at one minute intervals.
Kelly announced that Kota Ibushi was out of the main event due to aspiration pneumonia. He said Hiroshi Tanahashi would take his place and face Shingo Takagi for the IWGP World HVt. Championship.
(a) NEW JAPAN KOPW PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RANBO
There ended up being 22 wrestlers in the match. It came down to Chase Owens and Toru Yano in the end. Owens got the win with a package piledriver. This was a boring match. Nobody worked hard and the audience didn’t care.
Order of entry:
- Chase Owens
- Tomoaki Honma
- Togi Makabe
- Tiger Mask
- Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- Minoru Suzuki
- Yuji Nagata
- Satoshi Kojima
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan
- Master Wato
- Dick Togo
- Tomohiro Ishii
- Yujiro Takahashi
- Hirooki Goto
- Toru Yano
WINNER: Chase Owens in 35:40 to become the new KOPW Provisional Champion. (DUD)
NJPW kept the lights on and don’t have the usual big stage that is used for Tokyo Dome events. It feels like a very stripped down show in terms of the look.
Hiromu Takahashi was out first. Chris Charlton mentioned he’s cleared for in-ring competition, but he’s been acting as a master of ceremonies while injured. He introduced the show and then joined the English commentary booth.
(1) BULLET CLUB (ELP & TAIJI ISHIMORI vs. THE MEGA COACHES (ROCKY ROMERO & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI) – IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Championship match
The announcers talked about how the evidence pointed towards ELP’s superkick being loaded in the heel. ELP wiped out a Young Lion with his superkick on the floor. Kelly wondered if the boot really was loaded. Rocky got isolated inside the ring and Bullet Club took turns tagging in and out to work him over. Ishimori and ELP mocked the Mega Coaches dancing and hit back rakes off the turnbuckle on Romero. Romero mounted a comeback and tried to tag out, but Ishimori dragged Taguchi off the apron. Romero hit a double hurricanrana a short time later and all three men were down. Taguchi got the hot tag and ran wild with hip attacks.
Ishimori got isolated and Taguchi went for the Buma-Ye, but Taguchi turned it into a rollup for a nearfall. They went back and forth and Taguchi hit a jumping hip attack. Romero got the tag and hit Sliced Rocky for a two count. Ishimori got worked over until he finally caught Romero with a rolling kick off the ropes. ELP got the tag and went to work on Romero in the ring. He then hit a dive through the ropes to wipe Taguchi. ELP went for CR2, but Romero turned it into a dragonrana for a nearfall. ELP kicked out and hit a Style Clash for a nearfall and the fans applauded. ELP went for a One-Winged Angel, but Romero turned it into an arm bar. Taguchi got an ankle lock on Ishimori. Ishimori managed to break up the submission by sending Taguchi into Romero.
ELP connected with a superkick to Romero’s gut and he sold it like crazy. Romero went to the floor and Taguchi was about to get double teamed, but Romero wiped them out with a springboard out of nowhere. Ishimori took a combination of moves capped by the Buma Ye for a nearfall. Romero and Taguchi hit the Black Hole Vacation on Ishimori, but he got his foot on the ropes. They set Ishimori up for Strong Zero, but ELP pushed Taguchi to the floor. Ishimori hit a Code Red on Romero. He then caught them with a triangle quebrada to wipe out the Mega Coaches. ELP went up top. He walked across the ropes and hit a moonsault over the barricade to wipe out The Mega Coaches.
ELP came up selling his foot. Kelly said on commentary that ELP might not be able to hit Sudden Death.
ELP went up top and hit Thunder Kiss 86 off the top, but Romero made the save out of nowhere. Romero went at it against ELP and Ishimori, but EKP nailed him with Sudden Death. EP went for SD on Taguchi, but he swung it into Ishimori’s head. Taguchi rolled up ELP for a nearfall. He hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on ELP for another nearfall. Taguchi got an ankle lock. He then undid ELP’s boot. ELP tried to get away and Taguchi pulled his boot off. Taguchi tried to show the ref what was in the boot, but Ishimori cut him off. A short time later ELP hit a low blow on Taguchi with the ref distracted. He then hit CR2 on Taguchi for the win.
WINNERS: Taiji Ishimori & ELP at 21:56 to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt Championship. (****)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a really good back and forth match based around the mystery surrounding ELP’s loaded boot. The story of the boot played into the finish and the heels got the win here.)
The announcers mentioned that Takahashi will challenge the winner of the El Desperado vs. Robbie Eagles match. The announcers mentioned the crowd was sparse because of the state of emergency in Japan. They mentioned that Eagles would see a full crowd no matter what because to him the Tokyo Dome is the Tokyo Dome. The announcers mentioned that Eagles had been training while he was quarantined and was ready for this match.
(2) EL DESPERADO vs. ROBBIE EAGLES – IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Championship match
Desperado worked over Eagles’s leg during the early going. Eagles did a fake dive, but hurt his leg in the process. Desperado charged into the ring and Eagles cut him off with a big kick. Desperado fired back quickly and hit a dragon screw. Eagles managed to fire back with a big kick to Desperado’s chest a short time later. Eagles went for a kick a short time later, but Desperado blocked it and kicked Eagles’s leg. Eagles went down and Desperado locked in a leg submission. Eagles screamed and finally managed to get the ropes. Eagles tried to go for a float over to the apron, but Desperado kicked him right in the leg and he went to the floor. They went at it on the floor. Eagles hit a 619 variation off the apron and Desperado went over the barricade.
Eagles was slow to get up. Desperado went back into the ring. Eagles then hit a springboard dropkick to Desperado’s leg. Eagles locked in the Ron Miller special. Desperado screamed, but managed to get to the ropes. They traded counters and Desperado hit a back suplex and both men were down. Both men traded blows from their knees. They got up and continued to trade blows. Both men then began kicking at each other’s legs. A short time later, Eagles charged at Desperado, but he nailed him with a spinebuster. Desperado then locked in Numero Dos. Eagles escaped and rolled Desperado up for a nearfall. Both men traded pinning combinations for nearfalls. The fans applauded. Desperado ran at Eagles, but he nailed him with a kick to the knee and both men were down.
Desperado got another pinning combination, but Eagles kicked out. Eagles ended up hitting a kick to Desperado’s jaw that had been previously fractured. Eagles hit a superkick to a kneeling Desperado. He then hit Turbo Backpack for a nearfall. Eagles floated over the ropes and hurt his leg in the process. Eagles sold his leg and hit a 450 to Desperado’s leg. He then locked in the Ron Miller Special, which targets both legs. Desperado fought for the ropes for a long time. Eagles got up and hit several kicks to Desperado’s legs. He dragged him back to the middle of the ring and Desperado tapped out. WOW!
WINNER: Robbie Eagles in 19:56 to become the new IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champion. (***¾)
(Radican’s Analysis; This was a good match with both men targeting each other’s legs. The crowd didn’t make a lot of noise, which hurt the atmosphere. The action was a little slow at times, but they picked up nicely down the stretch. It felt a little sudden to take the belt off Desperado, who has been really good in the ring, but this is a nice way for Eagles to make his return to Japan with a bang.)
Eagles and Takahashi nodded at each other after the match. Eagles’s first challenger will be Takahashi.
(3) JEFF COBB (W/GREAT-O-KHAN) vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA
The fans fired up and clapped after the opening bell rang. Cobb has a huge win differential advantage over Okada this year. He’s also been the winner in the last seven matches he’s participated in. The announcers mentioned Okada has had trouble hitting even one dropkick on Cobb during their tag matches in recent weeks. Okada was up top and Cobb nailed him with his own signature dropkick and Okada spilled to the floor. Cobb pretended to surf on Okada on the floor before getting back into the ring. He taunted Okada by calling him a young boy and telling him to get back into the ring. Cobb hit a chop into a clothesline in the corner on Okada multiple times.
They began trading forearms a short time later. They traded counters and Okada caught Cobb with a flapjack. Cobb ended up on the top turnbuckle and this time it was Okada’s turn to hit his signature dropkick and Cobb spilled to the floor. O-Khan tried to fan Cobb on the floor to revive him. Okada booted Cobb over the guardrail. He then brought him back over the guardrail and hit a draping DDT. Okada stomped on the mat to fire the fans up once they got back inside the ring. He tried to get Cobb up, but he couldn’t. He then went applied the Money Clip. Cobb struggled, but managed to break it up by driving Okada into the corner. Okada knocked Cobb off the apron and went for a slingshot, but Cobb caught him and turned it into a suplex on the floor!
Okada struggled, but managed to get back into the ring to beat the 20 count. Cobb hit the Oklahoma Stampede, but Okada kicked out at two. He went right into a standing moonsault for a nearfall. Cobb hit a Spin Cycle suplex for another two count a short time later. Cobb set unp for Tour of the Islands, but Okada held onto the ropes. Cobb caught Okada with a release German and sent for Tour of the Islands, but Okada nailed him with a dropkick. He then tossed Cobb off the ropes a short time later and hit another dropkick! Cobb kicked out of a backslide, but ate a Rainmaker when he kicked out. Okada held on and hit another Rainmaker variation. OKada went for a full Rainmaker, but Cobb ducked it. Cobb went for a spinning Rainmaker, but Cobb cut it off with a clothesline and both men were down!
The crowd fired up with claps with both men down on the mat. Both men got to their knees and began trading forearms. They got to their feet and continued to trade blows. Cobb hit a combination of strikes and a Dr. Bomb for a nearfall. Cobb went for TOI, but Okada slipped out of it. Cobb caught Okada with a thrust kick and a battering ram headbutt. Cobb went for TOI again, but Okada escaped. They traded Rainmaker counters and Okada got a sunset flip pinning combination for the win.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada at 19:23. (****)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a very good match with Okada escaping with the win with a pinning combination in the end after he could never get on a roll hitting a tombstone or a Rainmaker on Okada. Cobb gained a lot here despite taking the loss.)
Cobb sold shock after the match before leaving the ringside area. Kelly said Cobb did everything, but beat Cobb. Okada looked worse for wear limping to the backstage area and selling his back after the match.
Tetsuya Naito had the first enhanced entrance of the night with sparklers shooting off as he made his way out to defend the IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Championship with Sanada against Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi.
(4) L.I.J. (TETSUYA NAITO & SANADA) vs. DANGEROUS TEKKERS (ZACK SABRE JR. & TAICHI W/MIHO ABE)
Taichi got the upper hand on Sanada and worked him over with a choke early. He used his body to block the ref’s view, but eventually the ref made him let it go. Naito cleared Taichi from the ring. Sanada and Sabre ended up on the outside. Sanada worked over Sabre’s leg around the guardrail. He then placed it between the poles in the guardrail and nailed it with a kick. Naito tagged in and continued to work over Sabre’s knee. Sabre tried to fire back, but Sanada did a cartwheel and hit a dropkick to Sabre’s knee. Sabre suddenly fired back and got a quick neck crank on Naito with his legs. He tagged in Taichi, who went to work on Naito.
Sanada ran into the ring, but Taichi nailed him with a kick to the head. Taichi was in control until Naito caught him with a neckbreaker and both men were down. Sanada hit an atomic drop. He then tied Taichi in the Paradise Lock and the fans applauded. Sanada played to the fans and the claps grew louder. Sanada finally hit a running dropkick to free Taichi. They eventually began trading leg kicks. They continued to trade blows. Taichi finally put Sanada down with a big kick to the chest. Sanada blocked a kick to the head, but Taichi caught him with a kick to the head a short time later. Sabre flew across the ring and sent Naito to the floor.
Sanada fired back on Taichi and hit a Tiger Driver for a two count. He went up top for the Muta Moonsault, but Taichi rolled out of the way. Sanada landed on his feet and both teams went back and forth. All four men were in the ring trading blows. Taichi finally hit an axe bomber on Sanada to end the exchange and everyone was down. WOW! The fans fired up and clapped and stomped. Taichi tore his pants off and Kelly said one day he will forget to wear his trunks. Charlton said, “What a day that will be. I’m speechless.
Taichi shook off the Skull End and hit a big kick to Sanada’s head and both men were down. Sabre knocked Naito to the floor again. He went at it with Sanada. They traded pinning combinations and Sabre got a nearfall. Sanada went for a pinning combination and Sabre countered it. Both men ended up with their shoulders down on the mat, but they both got them up before the ref could count to three. A short time later, Sanada hit a dragon screw and both men were down. Sabre told Taichi he couldn’t go anymore. Naito tagged in and went to work on Sabre. He stomped on Sabre’s bad leg. Naito hit a pair of neck breakers, but only got a two count.
Sabre blocked a Gloria attempt from Naito. Sabre countered Naito coming off the ropes and got a cobra twist. Naito escaped by going after Sabre’s knee. Sabre blocked a tornado DDT and kicked his arm. He hit a DDT a short time later for a two count. Saber and Taichi set up for Zack Mephisto, but Sanada broke it up. Sabre ended up alone in the ring and L.I.J. nailed him with a combination of moves. Naito hit his signature pinning combination for a nearfall. Naito got a leg submission. Taichi tried to run in, but Sanada put him in a figure 4. Sabre struggled, but managed to get to the ropes.
The 30 minute mark passed and Taichi tried to cut off Naito, but he fought him off and Sanada wiped him out with a slingshot splash. Naito spiked Sabre on his head, but the cameras only caught the end of the move. He got a nearfall on Sabre. They battled up top and Sabre countered a super rana in the air and rolled through into a triangle! WOW! Sanada tried to break it up, but Sabre wouldn’t let go. Sabre locked in the triangle tighter on Naito. Taichi had Sanada ina submission, but he finally fought him off. Sanada went up top and hit the Muta Moonsault to break up the submission. Taichi hit Black Mephisto on Sanada, but Naito immediately caught him with Destino. Sabre countered another Destino attempt into a Zack Driver, but he couldn’t make the cover due to the damage to his leg. WOW!
The announcers said Sabre has nobody to tag with Taichi wiped out. The fans fired up with Naito and Sabre down. The ref began his 10 count. Sabre didn’t get to his feet, but he stopped the count. Sabre laughed and hit Naito with some light slaps. Naito went after his leg. They smiled at each other and Naito went after his leg again. Sabre kept kicking him in the chest. He told Naito to get up. They got up and traded some big blows. The 35 minute mark passed with Naito and Sabre still trading bombs. Taichi ran into the ring and hit Naito with a knee. Sanada was right behind him, but Taichi nailed him with a Saito suplex. Taichi wiped out Naito with a big diving elbow and everyone was down again. WOW! The fans fired up. Sabre was on the other side of the ring and said he can’t make the tag. Sabre suddenly hit a PK on Naito for a nearfall.
Sabre countered Destino and got the European Clutch. It was good for the win! Charlton mentioned that when the Tekkers lost the titles in Sapporo a couple of weeks ago, Sabre had a counter in mind for Destino, but couldn’t execute it. This time he was able to and it won them the titles.
WINNERS: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi at 37:58 to become the new IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions. (****¾)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a clinic in tag team wrestling. Sabre took so much damage to the leg, but he just kept coming back over and over throughout the match. The match really got great late and the only thing that hurt it was the lack of a ton of crowd heat. The crowd in attendance did the best they could. The finish was masterful tracing back to their previous match in Sapporo. This match went almost 38 minutes, but it felt like 15.)
After the match, both teams went face-to-face. Kelly said once the borders open up there’s plenty of competition out in the world. Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi got into the ring. They appeared to want a shot at the tag titles. Naito wanted a rematch and told Chaos to back off. Taichi and Sabre told all of them to go away. Tekkers ended up leaving the ring.
Kelly said other wrestling promotions would put business first, but that’s not the case with NJPW when it came to putting on the main event match between Hiroshi Tanahashi as Kota Ibushi’s replacement and IWGP World Hvt. Champion Shingo Takagi.
Charlton mentioned that with a win over Kenta the previous night, he earned the right to replace Ibushi against Takagi. Hiroshi Tanahashi was out first. Shingo Takagi was out second with some pyro. He wore a black dragon mask.
(5) SHINGO TAKAGI vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI – IWGP World Hvt. Championship match
The bell rang and the fans fired up. Tanahashi dropped an elbow early and played some air guitar. Tanahashi went for a springboard, but Takagi caught him. He almost lost his grip, but he managed to hit a DVD. He sent Tanahashi to the floor a short time later with a lariat. Shingo used the barrier for leverage while stepping on Tanahashi’s chest. Charlton talked about the mystique of Tanahashi in the Tokyo Dome. Tanahashi rolled back into the ring and Shingo stomped on his chest. The announcers mentioned how Tanahashi was not coming into this match on full rest after wrestling Kenta for almost a half hour last night. Takagi dominated Tanahashi inside the ring for several minutes. Tanahashi ducked a sliding lariat and hit a kick to Shingo’s leg. He then hit a dragon screw.
Yota Tsuji pounded the mat at ringside in support of Tanahashi. Tanahashi hit a dropkick to Takagi’s knee a short time later. He went for the Cloverleaf, but Shingo grabbed the ropes before he could fully apply it. Shingo blocked a kick and hit a clothesline in the corner, but Tanahashi no-sold it. He tried to hit Shingo with some strikes, but Shingo fired back with a flurry of chops and jabs. Takagi ran across the ring, but Tanahashi surprised him with a running dropkick. Takagi went to the floor and Tanahashi Aces High to the floor! Tanahashi hit a flurry of elbows on Shingo in the corner, as the announcers talked about Tanahashi drawing inspiration from Katsuyori Shibata. Tanahashi hit Shibata’s signature corner dropkick on Shingo a short time later. They went back and forth and Tanahashi hit Twist and Shout. He held on and hit another. Tanahashi held on and hit a third Twist and Shout. He set up for a SLingblade, but Takagi sidestepped him and hit Noshigami!
Kelly said Tanahashi’s right knee went right into the canvas taking Noshigami. Takagi followed up with a wheelbarrow suplex and a sliding lariat, which he missed earlier in the match to give Tanahashi his first advantage. The fans fired up with Takagi in control. Tanahashi blocked a kick from Takagi and kicked him in the leg. He countered a DVD attempt from Takagi and hit a dragon screw. The announcers talked about how Shingo had motivated Tanahashi earlier in the year by saying he wanted to defend his title against him to raise the prestige of his reign. Tanahashi hit a pair of dragon screws in the corner and Takagi went down to the mat.
Tanahashi went for the Cloverhold and got it this time as the 20 minute mark passed. Tanahashi sat back deeply on the Cloverhold. Shingo managed to shake Tanahashi off, but he didn’t let go. Tanahashi applied the hold again and sat down on Takagi’s back. Takagi struggled, but got to the ropes and the fans applauded. They battled near the apron and Takagi hit a dragon screw on Tanahashi through the ropes. Takagi slammed Tanahashi’s leg over his shoulder several times and then hit an elbow to his kneecap. Shingo countered Tanahashi on the floor a short time later and hit the Takagi Revolution over the guardrail. WOW! The announcers talked about how Tanahashi’s head went right into Takagi’s leg. Takagi sold his leg after hitting the TGR.
Takagi crawled back into the ring. Tanahashi struggled, but got back into the ring only to eat a running forearm from Takagi. He followed up with Made in Japan for a nearfall. The 25 minute mark passed. Takagi nailed Tanahashi with a Pumping Bomber when they got back to their feet for a nearfall. The fans fired up and clapped as Shingo screamed. He went for Last of the Dragon, but Tanahshi blocked it. Takagi hit several right and left forearms to Tanahashi’s neck. Tanahashi fired up and Takagi nailed him with a headbutt. Charlton said that was the last roar of defiance from the ace. Takagi went for Last of the Dragon, but Tanahashi turned it into a Slingblade!
Tanahashi hit a straightjacket German with a bridge for a nearfall. He then hit a Slingblade for a nearfall. Tanahashi screamed and went up top. He hit Aces High and the fans applauded. Tanahashi tried to go up top for the High Fly Flow, but Takagi grabbed his leg. Tanahashi suddenly hit a Kamigoye. He then went up top and hit High Fly Flow as Kelly said, “Do you believe in Miracles?,” but Takagi kicked out. Are you kidding me? Takagi blocked a dragon suplex. He powered his way and hit a quick Last of the Dragon, but he couldn’t make the cover! The fans fired up big time and clapped with both men down.
They got to their knees and traded forearms. Then they got to their feet and continued to trade forearms. Tanahashi eventually hit left and right elbows. Takagi fired up and this time it was Tanahashi that dropped him with a headbutt to the chest. WOW! Shades of Shibata! Takagi blocked a clothesline and hti a dragon suplex. Takagi got right up and Tanahashi ducked a clothesline and hit another dragon suplex for a nearfall. OH MY GOD! The fans fired up and clapped as Tanahashi began crawling up top for the High Fly Flow. Tanahashi slowly crawled up top. Takagi crawled over to the corner and hit a headbutt to the chest. They began trading blows up top. Shingo nearly went down, but fired back with several headbutts. Takagi hit a big headbutt and Tanahashi crumpled over the top turnbuckle. Takagi set up for a super Last of the Dragon. Tanahshi tried to fight out of it, but Takagi hit it. Takagi could barely crawl over to cover Tanahashi and he kicked out at the last second! This is unreal. Tanahashi and Takagi are on another level tonight.
The fans fired up and applauded. Tanahashi hit a pair of big slaps, but Takagi hit a straight right. Tanahashi hit another slap, but Takagi nailed him with a clothesline. Takagi set up for another Last of the Dragon and hit it for the win. WOW!
Kelly said Shingo had beaten Okada to win the title and his first title defense saw him beat Tanahashi.
WINNER: Shingo Takagi at 37:26 to retain the IWGP World Hvt. Championship. (*****)
(Radican’s Analysis: Well, Shingo won here and grew his legacy as champion. The real story here is Tanahsahi dialing back the clock and putting on what is perhaps his last signature Tokyo Dome performance. The storytelling in this match was top shelf as they built it layer upon layer. The Kamigoye/High Fly Flow kickout from Takagi late in the match was incredible.
The crowd did their best to provide an atmosphere given the restraints and they came alive for this match more than any other on the card. This was incredible.)
Takagi cut a promo after the match. He told Tanahashi he knew he was great. He said in a very real way, Tanahashi is the winner. He said now they are 1-1. He said someday they would have a rubber match. He said Kota Ibushi was sick and Tanahashi stepped up. He said Kota Ibushi was talking to doctors to the bitter end trying to get into the match. He said he was hoping Ibushi would be here.
He said he had one thing fixed and set in his mind. He said until Ibushi is back and healthy. He will be waiting and holding the title. The fans clapped. He said it’s a little sad to have restricted attendance. He said there’s not much they can do about it. He thanked them for doing their best even with the restrictions. He said even in the state of emergency people showed up in the building or on their TV set to watch wrestling. He said he had nothing but gratitude for the fans. He said his generation is leading the way in professional wrestling. Takagi concluded his promo and fireworks shot off in the background. The lights went out and Evil and Dick Togo appeared on the big screen. He said it doesn’t matter that he won. He said Evil is next for that title. The lights came back on and Evil and Togo were in the ring. Evil and Togo were in the ring. Oh man… they just won’t stop with Evil. Evil hit Everything is Evil on Takagi. Togo gave him the title and he put it over his shoulder. He put his foot on Takagi’s chest and posed with the title. Kelly said he had sent Togo in his place for the Ranbo so he could lie in wait. Evil tost the title belt aside.
Charlton said Evil represents everything Evil is not. He represents everything that IWGP World Hvt. title shouldn’t be as well. Takagi was helped to the back by some Young Lions.
Contact Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch