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RADICAN’S NJPW WRESTLE GRAND SLAM IN METLIFE DOME: NIGHT 1
SEPT. 3, 2021
AIRED LIVE ON NJPW WORLD
English commentary: Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton on remote location
(a) QUEEN’S QUEST (MOMO WATANABE & SAYA KAMITANI) vs. LADY C & MAIKA
The announcers noted Maika was known for her strength and she hit a double suplex on Watanabe and Kamtani at one point during the match. Watanabe is 21 and has been wrestling for seven years.Lady C is just six months into her career and is still looking for her first win. Lady C hit a chokeslam on Kamitani, but Watanabe broke up the pin at the last second. Kamitani hit the Star Crusher on Lady C, but Maika made the save. Kamitani pinned Lady C with a Phoenix Splash.
WINNERS: Momo Watanabe & Saya Kamitani at 12:02. (***)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a good introduction to Stardom for the NJPW audience that might not have seen the promotion before. Kelly had some technical issues with his feed, but he did a good job with Charlton filling in the background of each woman in the match.)
The main show started with pyro exploding. The wrestlers are making their entrance out of the dugout in MetLife Dome. There’s not many fans in the building given COVID restriction, so the venue looks empty.
(1) L.I.J. (HIROMU TAKAHASHI & BUSHI) vs. ROBBIE EAGLES & TIGER MASK
Takahashi and Eagles, who are wrestling tomorrow for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship, kicked off the match with a fast-paced exchange. Kelly talked about how Eagles needed a win over Takahashi tomorrow to solidify himself as a star in NJPW. Takahashi applied the Ron Miller special, which is Eagles’s submission hold. He was also wearing Eagles’s bandana while working over Tiger Mask. Bushi held Eagles, but he got out of the way and Takahashi ran into Bushi. Eagles then wiped out Takahashi and began working him over. Eagles hit the Turbo Backpack on Bushi. He then locked in the Ron Miller Special and Bushi had to tap with Tiger Mask blocking Takahashi on the outside from making the save.
WINNERS: Robbie Ealges & Tiger Mask at 11:40. (***)
(Radican’s Analysis: We got a little hint of what Takahashi vs. Eagles will be like tomorrow night, as Takahashi taunted Eagles during the match by wearing his bandana and using his submission finish.)
Sho came out wearing black entrance gear with spikes and silver and black hair. The announcers talked about the split between Sho and Yoh and said Sho was still in Chaos even though he had turned on Yoh. Yoh came out dressed in black and white gear. He got right into the ring and went after Sho and both men went at it.
(2) SHO vs. YOH
Kevin Kelly said Rocky Romero hoped they could fight and go back to being partners and friends. Kelly said Romero thought turned on Yoh because they were losing matches. Charlton pointed out when Yoh was gone, Sho saw his own stock go up as a singles wrestler. Kelly and Charlton did an amazing job running down the history between Sho and Yoh and how they will be forever linked just like the new class of Young Lions. They came into NJPW together, wrestled each other in tons of singles matches as Young Lions, went on excursion together, and continued as tag partners in New Japan when they were done with their excursion.
Sho worked over Yoh for a long time and targeted his arm, but Yoh mounted a comeback and hit a flip dive to the floor. He sold his arm after landing. Sho fired back and connected with a double knee backbreaker. Yoh got the Star Gazer for a second time a short time later after escaping a Shock Arrow attempt. Yoh really got leverage on the hold and Sho screamed in pain, but he managed to get to the ropes. Yoh hit a dragon suplex into the turnbuckles a short time later. They went to a big back and forth strike exchange. Yoh finally caught Sho with a huge clothesline coming off the ropes. He then hit a dragon suplex with a bridge for a nearfall.
Sho shoved Yoh into the ref. He hit a spear and went to grab a chair with the ref down. Yoh fired back and got the chair from Sho, but he refused to use it. Yoh set up for the Direct Driver, but Sho nailed him with a low blow. Sho got the chair and nailed Yoh with an unprotected chair shot right over the top of his head. The ref recovered and Sho had the pin, but he lifted Yoh’s shoulder at the last second. He then locked in a head and arm triangle and the ref called for the bell.
WINNER: Sho at 24:41. (****)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a big transformation from Sho. He was great here with his facial expressions. Yoh made a good comeback during the match and was on the verge of winning, but he refused to use a chair when Sho was down and that was his downfall.)
After the match, Sho tossed the Young Lions that were trying to help Yoh out of the ring. He then stood over Yoh. Sho got on the mic and laughed. He told Yoh it’s just like said. I told you you need to quit. Sho then kicked Yoh to the floor and sat down in the ring.
Evil, Dick Togo, and Yujiro Takahashi came down to the ring and handed Yoh a Bullet Club shirt. Sho put it on as the announcers said it had to be them. Sho is the newest member of Bullet Club. Kelly said he was wondering in the back of his mind if somebody was in Sho’s ear and now they know. The t-shirt read House of Torture on the front. Kevin Kelly asked what that was. Charlton said Bullet Club is one thing, but these are the very worst elements of Bullet Club. Kelly said Dick Togo has formed his own sub group with Evil as the leader and Takahashi. He said now Sho has joined as well.
Toru Yano came out first to face Chase Owens next for the KOPW Provisional Championship back in his old heel persona complete with reddish blond here. He came to the ring with a bag of handcuffs.
(3) CHASE OWENS vs. TORU YANO – KOPW 2021 Provisional Championship No DQ I Quit match
Yano ran down the aisle as Owens made his entrance and they brawled on the floor. Owens reached into his trunks and he had some powder. He threw it into Yano’s eyes. They brawled all over the floor and in the ring, but neither man would quit. Yano got a ladder and nailed Owens with it. Owens went flying off the apron through a ladder that had been set up between the apron and the barricade. They continued to brawl around ringside and Owens handcuffed Yano to the guardrail. The ref asked him if he wanted to give up, but Yano didn’t say anything. Owens got a strap and whipped a Young Lion with it. Owens poured water over Yano and got on the mic. He told Yano to give up. Yano said no. Owens began whipping him. He told Yano he was his subconscious and his body didn’t want anymore.
Owens whipped Yano over and over, but he wouldn’t quit. Owens walked away from Yano and Yano went under his wrist tape and got the key to the handcuffs. The announcers said Yano would have the key since they were his handcuffs. Owens got a bat and went after Yano, but he kicked him right in the nuts. Yano put Owens in handcuffs and asked him if he wanted the keys. Yano whipped Owens over and over with the strap. Owens refused to quit and Yano hit the Demon Killer Powerbomb through the table.
Yano got a pair of scissors and threatened to cut Owens’s hair. He spit in Yano’s face. Yano tried to stab Yano in the eye with the scissors and the ref called for the bell after Owens quit.
WINNER: Toru Yano to become the new KOPW 2021 Provisional Champion at 28:03. (*3/4)
(Radican’s Analysis: This felt like it lasted forever and it did. There’s no reason for this match to go this long. New Japan has to be smarter than this with long matches on their cards. I liked Yano bringing back his old heel persona and the finish played into it perfectly, but this match dragged forever in the middle leading up to the finish.)
An announcement for Wrestle Kingdom 16 aired. They announced the first two dates on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5 at The Tokyo Dome. It was then announced there would be a third date on Jan. 8 at Yokohama Arena. This is to kick off the NJPW 50 Anniversary Celebration.
They went to intermission. IWGP World Hvt. Champion Shingo Takagi came out and joined the Japanese announce team.
Jeff Cobb was out first after intermission to face Kazuchika Okada. Kelly said the one hurdle Cobb hasn’t been able to get over is Okada. He’s 0-2 against Okada in singles matches this year.
(4) JEFF COBB (W/GREAT-O-KHAN) vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA
O-Khan stood behind Okada to distract him on the outside during the early going. Okada countered Cobb’s attack and shoved him into O-Khan. Cobb fired back and ran Okada into the turnbuckles back and forth on opposite corners. Cobb showcased his power to maintain control, but Okada caught him coming into the corner and nailed him with his signature neck breaker. Kelly mentioned Okada had previously targeted Cobb’s neck with his forearm strikes. Okada applied the Money Clip, but Cobb quickly made it to the ropes. Okada booted Cobb over the guardrail. He went for a dive, but Cobb caught him and hit a vertical suplex on the floor. WOW!
Okada ducked a charge from Cobb and he went to the floor. Okada went for a dive and Cobb caught him, but this time Okada slipped out of his grasp and hit a DDT. Both men were down on the floor. Okada hit a tombstone and got the MC, but Cobb got to the ropes after a long struggle. Cobb suddenly fired back and hit a reverse tombstone and both men were down as the fans tried to fire up behind them. They went to a strike exchange and Cobb sent Okada into the corner and nailed him with an uppercut. He then elevated him out of the corner and hit a spin cycle suplex. He went forTour of the Islands, but Okada nailed him with a dropkick. Cobb fired back and went for a Rainmaker, but Okada blocked it. Cobb then caught Okada with a dropkick off the ropes of his own. Cobb then hit a Tombstone and hit the Rainmaker pose, but he did not get a Rainmaker camera cut. They went back and forth and Okada held onto Cobb’s wrist and caught him with a Rainmaker. He went for another, but Cobb ducked only to eat a dropkick coming off the ropes.
Okada set up for a Tombstone and hit a corkscrew version. Okada went for another tombstone, but he fell backwards into the corner. Cobb ended up draped over the top turnbuckle. The fans fired up. Okada grabbed Cobb and got him over his shoulder, but Cobb fought out and went to the apron. He nailed Okada with a superkick. They battled up top once again and Okada punched him to the mat, but Cobb got up and nailed him with a headbutt. He then hit a Tour of the Islands off the top. He then hit a second Tour of the Islands for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Jeff Cobb at 27:41. (****½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This is a huge win for Cobb heading into G1 and beyond. Cobb had lost their previous matches and it looked like this match was going Okada’s way, but Cobb hit his finish off the top and then hit it again for the win. The only thing holding this match back from greater heights was a better crowd atmosphere.)
Okada was helped to the back and the fans applauded. Cobb limped to the back with O-Khan behind him.
Kota Ibushi was out first for the main event to challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship. Hiroshi Tanahashi was out next.
(5) HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. KOTA IBUSHI – IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship match
Kota Ibushi teared up before the opening bell rang. The fans fired up and clapped after the opening bell. Tanahashi looked a little emotional as well. Kelly talked about Ibushi’s fight to get back to the ring after an illness. The announcers also talked about Lance Archer wanting another shot at Tanahashi and Jon Moxley also waiting in the wings for a shot at the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship, as he was ringside for Tanahashi vs. Archer at Resurgence. After a feeling out period to start the match, Tanahashi hit a dropkick to Ibushi’s legs. Tanahashi then began targeting Ibushi’s legs on the mat.
Tanahashi finally fought through the pain and hit a dropkick to stop Tanahashi’s momentum. Ibushi hit a standing moonsault and Tanahashi sold his ribs big time. Tanahashi ended up on the floor and Ibushi hit the Golden Triangle dive to the floor. He went eye-to-eye with Takagi, who was sitting at the Japanese commentary table. Tanahashi ended up blocking a kick and hit a dragon screw. They went to a big strike exchange and Ibushi got the upper hand and hit several forearms to the back on Tanahashi’s head. He shoved the ref away and Ibushi made his transformation and hit several more forearms. He went for the Kamigoye, but Tanahashi turned it into Twist and Shout.
Tanahashi hit a Sling Blade and went for a High Fly Flow, but Ibushi blocked it and grabbed Tanhashi’s wrists. He hit the Kamigoye, but collapsed and could not make the cover. The fans fired up with both men down. WOW! That was an incredible sequence. Ibushi hit the Boma Ye. He set up for another Kamigoye, but Tanahashi sprung his feet. Ibushi hit a jumping knee to Tanahashi’s cin. He held onto Tanahashi’s wrists, but Tanahashi blocked it several times by twisting his arms shut. Tanahashi sprug to his feet and hit Slingblade, but Ibushi kicked out at one. He hit a Dragon suplex with a bridge, but Ibushi kicked out. Tanahashi went up top and hit Aces High. He went back up top and the fans applauded. He screamed and rose to his feet up top. He then hit the High Fly Flow for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi at 17:47. (****½)
(Radican’s Analysis; Great win for Tanahashi defending successfully against Ibushi heading into G1. Ibushi has an out coming off a lengthy illness and this being his first big match. Both men appeared emotional after the match, as they exchanged words. I’d love to know what they were saying to each other. It’s clear both men have a ton of respect for each other. The crowd got up for this more than any match on the card.)
Tanahashi was emotional after the match and in tears. Kelly teased an upcoming match between Tanahashi and Moxley. He said both men would be in the G1 Climax. Tanahashi held up 3 fingers on both hands. Kelly said they were even at 3-3 in singles, but Charlton said he actually leads the series 4-2. Ibushi mouthed one more time before leaving the ring.
Tanahashi got on the mic. He said welcome back to Ibushi. He said Ibushi’s dream has a long way to go, but get everything right in your mind and come back at me one more time. Tanahashi asked the fans to clap in tune to Ibushi’s name. Ibushi left and Tanahashi said NJPW has returned to MetLife Dome. He said many years ago, he wasn’t in the main event. He said since he won the main event here, it makes him pretty damn big because Tanahashi is pretty damn awesome. He said the fans need to applaud their loudest. He said even the thunder and lightning is applauding outside. He said tomorrow they will be back.
Tanahashi said as long as the fans keep coming, he will be in the ring and keep fighting for all of us. He waved and said we will see you all tomorrow. He went to leave the ring and stalled. The fans applauded. He got back into the ring and did his electric air guitar routine. He got back on the mic and thanked the fans again. He said little by little we will take steps, half steps, and quarter steps towards a better tomorrow. Fireworks then went off in the background as Tanahashi’s music played.
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