9/4 NEW JAPAN WRESTLE GRAND SLAM REPORT: Tanahashi vs. Ibushi, Okada vs. Cobb, Sho vs. Yoh, more

BY JAVIER MACHADO, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

PHOTO CREDIT: NJPW

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

NEW JAPAN WRESTLE GRAND SLAM IN METLIFE DOME
SEPTEMBER 4, 2021
SAITAMA, JAPAN
THE METLIFE DOME
English Announcers: Chris Charlton and Kevin Kelly 

PRE-SHOW 

The English feed launched almost immediately as the first wrestlers came out. Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton gave us a brief background of the Stardom wrestlers.

(a) LADY C & MAIKA VS. SAYA KAMITANI & MOMO WATANABE– Stardom Special Match

Lady C has no wins in Stardom and is being tested similar to the Young Lions in new Japan. Maika brought power and Momo some stiff kicks. After a feeling out process Momo worker Lady C over with body slams and kicks. Simultaneous clotheslines let Lady C tag in Maika. Maika attempted to take Momo up but Momo resisted. Saya came in to help Momo hit a tandem suplex but Maika double suplexed the two women instead. Momo regain control with kicks and hit an uranagi for two. Momo tags out to Saya who maintains the offensive turning a suplex attempt into a triangle choke but Maika end up powering her up and over anyway. Maika tags out to Lady C. Lady C and Saya go back and forth until Saya climbs to rope and is intercepted by Maika who hits a stalling superplex. Lady C hits her finisher, a chokeslam but Momo breaks the pin. After more back and forth Lady C goes for a super chokeslam in the corner but Saya counters with a huricanrana and hits the Starcrusher and Maika breaks the pin. Saya and Momo hit stereo jumping knees on Lady C and Saya Kamini pins Lady C after hitting the Phoenix Splash. Kelly was having problems with his video leading to Chris and Kelly stepping on each other a few times but things seemed to straighten out.

WINNER: Saya Kamitani in 12:30 (**½)

(Javier’s Take: Happy to see this airing. I’ve been wanting to catch some Stardom and it is nice to get some with commentary. Solid offering from the women in the match.)

MAIN CARD 

The main show opened with pyro and Hiromu Takahashi’s music to get underway immediately. Kevin Kelly said that he and Chris Charlton were both in Japan, but not in location. Going forward into the G1 they will be live at ringside.

(1) TIGER MASK & ROBBIE EAGLES VS. BUSHI & HIROMU TAKAHASHI

Fast start with Hiromu and Eagles going at it with rapid counters ending in a stalemate. Some gamesmanship from Hiromu led to his team taking short lived advantage as it shifted back and forth to start with. Eventually LIJ isolated Tiger Mask and worked over his leg with Hiromu mockingly applying the Ron Miller Special. Tiger Mask tagged in Eagles who worked over Hiromu. Pop up doctor bomb from Hiromu gave him the opportunity to tag Bushi. Bushi worked Eagles over. Bushi hit a suicide dive on Tiger Mask on the outside while Hiromu came in illegally and exchanged blows with Eagles. Bushi and Eagles countered each other some and Tiger Mask his own suicide dive on Hiromu to take him out of the match. Eagles drop kicked Bushi’s knee, hit turbo backpack and applied the Ron Miller Special for the tap out.

WINNERS: Tiger Mask & Robbie Eagles in 11:40. (**)

(Javier’s Take: There was some solid psychology in this one, but nothing to write home about. Merely a preview for tomorrow’s show.)

After the match Eagles and Hiromu postured with Eagles calling Hiromu a scum bag.

(2) SHO vs. YOH

Sho comes out with a dark remix of his song and new look and attitude. Yoh attacked as soon as he hit the ring, before the bell. The two went back and forth exchanging strikes until yoh got momentarily rocked. Sho pressed the advantage, taking the match outside. Sho began working over Yoh’s arm using the rope mooring and the outside guardrail. Sho continued to work over Yoh for an extended period until Yoh reversed an Irish whip and nailed a drop kick. Yoh delivered some seriously stiff strikes, but Sho went back to the arm. Sho tried to take control outside but Yoh counter. Yoh returned to the ring for a tope con jiro that Kelly called it a tope con hilo much to my chagrin. Yoh hit a falcon arrow for two. Yoh mounted Sho in the corner but Sho powered out into a vertibreakerto stop Yoh’s momentum. Yoh countered Shock Arrow into a Stargazer but Sho got to the ropes. Yoh hit a rough looking exploder suplex. The two crawled to each other and began exchanging blows. Their yells eerily echoed in the arena. Sho took over but Yoh fired up with a clothesline. Sho pushed Yoh into the ref taking the ref out. Sho got a chair. Yoh avoided the swing and took the chair. He hit the mat with chair making it sound like thunder thanks to the echo. Yoh refused to use the chair and discarded it. Sho got in a low blow and hit Yoh on the head with the chair. Sho pinned Yoh but pulled him back before the ref hit three. Sho applied an arm submission, and the ref stopped the match.

WINNER: Sho in 23:00 (***)

(Javier’s Take; This was a good match with enough left that they can repeat it a few more times. I liked Sho’s demeanor throughout this.)

-After the match got a mic and told Yoh that it was what he had said, that Yoh needs to quit then kicked him out of the ring. And out came Bullet Club. Dick Togo, Yujiro Takahashi and Evil came out and presented Sho with a shirt that Sho promptly donned. The shirt said House of Torture which I assume is the name of this Bullet Club subgroup.

(3) CHASE OWENS (C) VS. TORU YANO – Provisional KOPW2021 No-DQ/ I Quit Match

 As a massive surprise the Great Bash Heel version of Toro Yano came out complete with dyed hair. Kelly expressed that this wasn’t ha-ha Yano. Chase came out and they immediately started brawling. Chase tossed powder in Yano’s eyes and took control. Weapons came into play right after, chairs, trash cans, and aluminum trays. After some back and forth, Chase used a leather strap to tie Yano up to the corner and worked Yano over with a kendo stick. Chase sets up a ladder across the gap between the guard rail and the apron. Yano eventually knocks chase through the ladder. Then out came the tables. Chase got Yano up on the tables and hit the piledriver on the table. They didn’t break. Yano was knocked out so he couldn’t quit. Chase handcuffed Yano to the rails and splashed him with water to wake him. Yano had the keys as he uncuffed himself as Chase grabbed a bat. Yano kicked Chase low and handcuffed him and handcuffed him to the top rope. Yano whipped Chase with the strap and got a pair of scissors with the intention to cut Chase’s hair but Chase spit in Yano’s face. So, then Yano tried stabbing Chase in the eye forcing Chase to quit. 

WINNER: Yano in 28:15 to win the Provisional KOPW2021 trophy (***½)

(Javier’s Take; Oh my God, I was NOT expecting this. Thoroughly enjoyable hardcore style match. I loved Yano walking away like a boss at the end.) 

They aired a promo for the next Wrestle Kingdom announcing that it will now be three nights long on January 4th and 5th at the Tokyo Dome and January 8th at Yokohama Arena. They then went into intermission. 

(4) JEFF COBB (W/GREAT-O-KHAN) vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA

Another fast start but Okada with Okada getting the advantage and begins to slowly grind down Cobb. Cobb takes over with a release German. Cobb powered Okada around concentrating his attack on Okada’s back. Okada took over with a neckbreaker. Okada maintained offense knocking Cobb to the floor with a drop kick. Okada leapt over the guard rail but was caught by Cobb who hit a suplex on the concrete floor. Okada barely beat the twenty count in a believable spot.

Cobb continued working the back but when he went for Tour of the Islands, Okada countered sending Cobb to the outside. Okada went for a flying plancha but Cobb caught him and attempted a suplex. Okada fought it off and hit a DDT on the floor. Back inside Okada hit a missile dropkick but sells the damage to the back. A failed attempt at a tombstone further points to back problems. A second try at the tombstone sticks and Okada applies the Money Clip. Twenty minutes had elapsed at this point surprising Kelly, Charlton, and me. Cobb hit a reverse tombstone. Both men engage in a weak series of strikes selling their exhaustion but as they landed they each began to perk up hitting each other with more force. Cobb won the exchange and hit the spin cycle. Another Tour was diverted by a shotgun dropkick.

Cobb hit a tombstone and set up a for a riptide Tour, but Okada countered with a spinning lariat. Okada hits a corkscrew tombstone. Okada went for the Rainmaker, Cobb countered it into Tour, which Okada countered into a tombstone but was unable to deliver it, instead depositing Cobb in the top of the corner. Okada joined Cobb in the corner for a potentially deadly spot, but Cobb fought it off, landing on the apron. Cobb climbed back up and exchanged strikes with Okada. A headbutt stunned Okada and Cobb hit an avalanche Tour of the Islands and followed with a Tour from the wrist-clutch for the win.

WINNER: Jeff Cobb in 27:40. (***½)

(Javier’s Take: While this had your usual slow, deliberate Okada grind at the start, there was plenty of drama as the match built to a crescendo. Biggest story of the match was Cobb trying to hit Tour of the Islands and getting countered, eventually hitting two for the win. A very good match indeed and a momentous statement win for Cobb).

-Cobb and O-Khan celebrated in the ring.

-They played the video of previous IWGP US Heavyweight Champions. Kelly questioned if Kota Ibushi had rebuilt his body following his bout with aspirational pneumonia. Kelly mentioned Jon Moxley’s interest in Tanahashi at the Resurgence event. Ibushi was overcome with emotion and began crying.

(5) HIROSHI TANAHASHI (c) VS. KOTA IBUSHI – IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Match

The bell rang and Ibushi took a deep breath to settle himself. They started with a feeling out process eventually exchanging grappling holds. Tanahashi began to control things working Ibushi’s legs. Eventually they began exchanging strikes with Tanahashi coming out on top. Ibushi took over with a hurricanrana and Tanahashi rolled to the outside. Ibushi fired up and hit the Golden Triangle to the outside. Ibushi pointed at Shingo Takagi who was on Japanese commentary. Tana broke free of a german suplex attempt and hit a dragon screw leg whip. Ibushi fired up more and he and Tana exchanged strikes with Ibushi coming out on top, mounting Tana’s back and delivering elbows to the back of Tana’s head as Ibushi goes into Murder-Ibu mode, pushing aside the referee. Ibushi goes for Kami-goye but Tana counters into twist and shout. Ibushi no-sold a follow up slingblade and Tana missed a second attempt and hit a third. Tana went for High Fly Flow only to find Ibushi’s knees. Ibushi gained wrist control and hit Kami-goye but was too spent to make a cover.

Ibushi is the first to his feet and hit Bomaye. The follow up Kami-Goye was blunted by Tana who had stood up. Another Kami-goye was blocked by Tana crossing his arms blocking the path of the knee and the two engaged in a test of strength with Ibushi trying to uncross Tana’s arms. As Ibushi gained the advantage, Tana broke free and hit another Sling Blade. Tana hit a bridging dragon for a two and followed with Aces High and High Fly Flow for the win.

WINNERS: Hiroshi Tanahashi in 17:45 to retain the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship (***½)

(Javier’s Take: The start of whole thing had the air of Ibushi being a step slow and Tanahashi being frustrated that Ibushi wasn’t “bringing it.” As the match went on, Ibushi fired up more and more “flipping the switch” as Charlton called it. All in all, it was an appropriate match given the state these two are in physically and the narrative buoyed any action it may had been lacking.)

-After the match, Tanahashi crawled over to Ibushi, said some stuff, and both men were very emotional. Kelly said that at some point in time Archer and Jon Moxley may be seeing Tanahashi in AEW.

-Tana grabbed the mic and said (translated by Chris Charlton) “I’ll say what nobody else can. Ibushi… welcome back.” Tana told Ibushi his dreams have a long way to go and to get himself together, body and mind, and come at Tana again. Ibushi agreed. Tana began chanting Ibushi. Tana then talked about coming to the Metlife Dome and main eventing it. He thanked everyone for attending. He teased leaving but returned to the ring to do his air guitar shtick as the crowd clapped along (as well as the loud thunderclaps outside). He then grabbed the mic again and said some inspirational words sending the crowd home.


CATCH-UP: New Japan announces a Wrestle Kingdom will feature three events in 2022

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