SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NEW JAPAN WRESTLE GRAND SLAM IN METLIFE DOME
SEPTEMBER 5, 2021
THE METLIFE DOME
English Announcers: Chris Charlton and Kevin Kelly
(Pre-Show) DONNA DEL MONDO (SYURI & GIULIA) vs. QUEEN’S QUEST (MOMO WATANABE & SAYA KAMITAMI) – SPECIAL STARDOM PRE-SHOW TAG MATCH
WINNERS: Donna Del Mondo’s Syuri by submission (Byakko Stretch Muffler) in 11:31 (***)
(Fann’s Analysis: This was another good match to introduce fans that weren’t familiar with the Stardom crews. While this wasn’t quite as good as last night’s match, Giulia & Syuri as a tandem need to have eyes on them. Both factions – Donna Del Mondo & Queens Quest – provided great action in this, with the finish of Syuri’s Byakko stretch muffler really bringing a good match to a close. With Stardom ravaged by Covid as well during the last few weeks, & recently getting back on the road Bushiroad was really smart to incorporate both brands together.)
(1) CHAOS (KAZUCHIKA OKADA & TOMOHIRO ISHII) vs. UNITED EMPIRE (JEFF COBB & GREAT-O-KHAN)
WINNERS: United Empire’s Great-O-Khan by pinfall (Eliminator) in 12:45 (***)
(Fann’s Analysis: Since the temporary departure of Will Ospreay, O-Khan & Cobb have done a good job of stepping up to the moment. This match was another example of the chemistry shown in the match between Cobb and Okada the night before. Ishii, as always, brought it and now going into G-1 there’s going to be an opportunity for O-Khan to prove he’s as improved as I’ve thought he’s been since his return to the roster.)
(2) SUZUKI GUN (EL DESPERADO & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU) vs. IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TAG CHAMPIONS BULLET CLUB (TAIJI ISHIMORI & EL PHANTASMO) – IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
WINNERS: Desperado by pinfall (Pinche Loco) in 20:28 to win the IWGP Jr. Tag Championship (***1/2)
(Fann’s Analysis: Decent match, but this match and the match after illustrate the need for new blood in both tag divisions. In the case of the juniors, this was a solid match, despite the setup of heel – heel tag teams. All four men had their working boots on for this.)
(3) CHAOS (HIROOKI GOTO & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. L.I.J. (TETSUYA NAITO & SANADA) vs. IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS SUZUKI GUN (TAICHI & ZACK SABRE JR.) w/MIHO ABE – IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP THREE WAY MATCH
WINNERS: Suzuki Gun’s Taichi by pinfall (Black Memphisto) in 26:43 (***3/4) to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
(Fann’s Analysis: The WWE “Outlaw Rule” era 3-and-4 way matches were always fun, and this was a page out of the same book. While there were supposed to be 2 men in at one time, there was pure chaos in this match. The finish being Sabre stretching Naito to prevent a stoppage of the pinfall on Yoshi-Hashi was so good. Up next the Suzuki Gun gents will need to step up their games singles wise, as the G-1 beckons.)
Prior to intermission, the G-1 Climax 31 participants and blocks were announced, with the final set to occur October 21st.
– Kota Ibushi
– Tetsuya Naito
– Shingo Takagi
– Toru Yano
– Tomohiro Ishii
– Tanga Loa
– Great O-Khan
– Hirooki Goto
– Jeff Cobb
– Tama Tonga
– Chase Owens
– Kazuchika Okada
– Hiroshi Tanahashi
(Fann’s Analysis: Each block has 3-4 wrestlers who, due to Covid restrictions and inability to get additional non-native support, gives those guys a great chance to prove they can hang with some of the best wrestlers on their roster. However, this can go south really quick with interference and shenanigans, which could bring the entire tournament down. In block A Yano, Yujiro, O-Khan & Tanga Loa have questions to answer for different reasons. Yano is a yearly “bye week” of comedy for whomever wrestles him, but with the other 3 in the block, can Toru bring out more than that this year? Can O-Khan build on his 2021? Can Tanga Loa & Yujiro not have matches rife with interference? And in the B block, will Chase Owens rise to the level of such a strong block? Will Tama Tonga & Evil work like I know they can, or will they be relegated to BC cheat memes?)
Intermission for cleaning
(4) HIROMU TAKAHASHI (L.I.J.) vs. IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION ROBBIE EAGLES (CHAOS)
WINNER: Robbie Eagles by submission (Ron Miller Special) in 24:07 (****)
(Fann’s Analysis: This was a great match. If you watched the matchup from the night before, Hiromu’s legs continued to be the target of Eagles’ offense. Post match, Desperado wanted the next shot at the champ, and somehow wants the Jr. Tag Titles incorporated somehow, which remains to be seen. Hopefully it’s a series of matches, not the “winner take all” variety.)
(5) EVIL (w/YUJIRO TAKAHASHI, DICK TOGO & SHO) BULLET CLUB vs. IWGP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION SHINGO TAKAGI (LIJ) – IWGP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Main event time.
The story of this match over 30 minutes was the incessant, arbitrary & wholly unneeded interference of the Bullet Club as Shingo had no backup from his squad against four men. Red Shoes had several bumps in the match late, and on the final bump Naito, Sanada & Bushi came to the rescue to even the odds. Shingo blocked a low blow late and after a few lariats and a Last of the Dragon, Shingo retained.
WINNER: Shingo Takagi by pinfall (Last of the Dragon) in 30:20 (***1/4)
(Fann’s Analysis: The match started with the ridiculous numbers against Shingo, but ended with all of the negative forces negated and a victory for the champ. Coming back from Covid, Shingo looked like himself, but clearly post match in his promo was still affected by the ordeal. Having a champ thank his friends for having his back when he needed them is something that’s always welcome to me in pro wrestling. Evil is so much more than what we see now, but I fear that is less and less true with each of these farce main event showings. Shingo dragged him into a good match when based on booking it should’ve been mediocre at best.)
Overall thoughts (7.5): Solid tag match undercard that led to a decent main event. The title match could’ve been overbooked a bit, but Shingo’s relentless to make this run work, and bless him for it. The Stardom match, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight match, and the 3-way tag match alone are worth watching this show for. After this, New Japan should probably take it easy on the stadium shows however.
Contact Rich at PWTDive@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rich_fann.