4/16 NJPW Windy City Riot: Wells’s Report on Jon Moxley vs. Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki, Jay White Open Challenge, more

by Kelly Wells, PWTorch Contributor

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PHOTO CREDIT: NJPW

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WELLS’S NJPW WINDY CITY RIOT REPORT
APRIL 16, 2022
CHICAGO, ILL. AT ODEUM EXPO CENTER
AIRED LIVE IN JAPANESE & ENGLISH ON NJPW WORLD

Commentary in Japanese only (Kevin Kelly and Matthew Rehwoldt’s commentary will be available separately)


A video package ran through all of the night’s matches.

(1) KARL FREDERICKS & YUYA UEMURA & CLARK CONNORS vs. QT MARSHALL & NICK COMOROTO & AARON SOLO

This match came about on New Japan Strong as Marshall attempted to recruit Fredericks into The Factory. Fredericks refused, and this match resulted. Fredericks, Uemura and Connors are all recent Young Lion graduates currently working their excursions. Marshall did some weak local sports heat until Fredericks’ music cut him off, bringing the babyfaces in to a good pop.

Uemura and Solo opened. Quick takedown by Uemura and some mat wrestling went to the rope to break. Waistlock by Uemura. Back elbow and a rope run by Solo. Arm drag into an armbar by Uemura, who backed into Fredericks for the tag. Fredericks asked for Marshall and Solo threw his hand away, so Fredericks gave him a hard palm strike and tossed him to the heel corner. Marshall tagged in, stalled a while, and tagged Comoroto to boos. Arm drag by Comoroto and a tag to Marshall, who came off the top into a gut shot by Fredericks. Palm strikes by Fredericks, followed by a hip toss. Fredericks cleared the other heels from the apron, then went up for the ten punch count along, but the heels cut it off at nine. Both other faces entered and all three did the count along in separate corners. Comoroto lifted Connors with one arm to gasps, and eventually the ring cleared of the illegal men. Leaping elbow drop by Fredericks on Marshall, but Solo broke it up. Comoroto tagged in and beat Fredericks in the heel corner, then tagged Solo for an assisted suplex/dropkick. Solo draped Fredericks over a rope in the heel corner and they got some cheap shots in. Comoroto and Solo again teamed up for a move, this time a side suplex, and Comoroto covered for two. Tag to Solo, and Fredericks managed a jawbreaker and tried to tag. Marshall made the tag and cut him off, and hit a body slam on Fredericks. Marshall went for a springboard moonsault and missed. Solo made the tag and Connors made the hot tag and destroyed everyone. He went for a tope suicida on Solo, but Marshall cut it off. Connors speared one heel through the ropes into another, nearly losing his footing on the ropes. He hit a flying elbow on Solo for two. The faces triple-teamed Solo briefly until Comoroto got involved again and put both Connors and Uemura on his back. Fredericks tried a cross-body and finally the weight was too much. Everyone got big spots in the ring for the next minute. Connors tagged Uemura and Marshall tagged in as well. Forearm exchange got a big “yay”/”boo” reaction. Marshall got the better of it to boos, then went for a cutter, but it was blocked. Comoroto and Solo got involved, but Comoroto accidentally superkicked Solo. Uemura put Comoroto in a fireman’s carry, then dumped him from the ring. Connors and Fredericks hit tope suicidas on the tag guys, while inside, Marshall produced a foreign object to lay out Uemura. He hit his cutter to win.

WINNERS: The Factory at 11:57. (**1/2)

(Wells’s Analysis: I understand allowing the established TV faction to get the duke, though Fredericks, Uemura and Connors just have loads more potential as a future huge act than the Factory do. Spirited opener)

(2) FRED ROSSER & JOSH ALEXANDER & ALEX COUGHLIN & REN NARITA & CHRIS DICKINSON vs. TEAM FILTHY (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson & JR Kratos & Black Tiger & Danny Limelight)

Team Filthy is Tom Lawlor’s stable on New Japan Strong, and currently the show seems to be working toward a second Strong Openweight Championship match between Lawlor and Rosser.

Huge pier ten brawl to start and most everyone cleared from the ring. Rosser and Limelight remained in the ring as the legal men and Rosser lit up Limelight with strikes, then hit a body slam and some legdrops. Rosser tossed Limelight casually and tagged Alexander, who stomped Limelight. Limelight got back into it with an armdrag, then a charging lariat in the corner. Cover for two. Isaacs tagged in and the heels double-teamed. Whip for Alexander, who fought off both guys with boots. Nelson tagged in, as did Coughlin. Headlock by Coughlin. The action went to a corner to break. Nelson missed a chop and got chopped himself. Nelson wanted a monkey flip, but Coughlin caught him and slammed him. Narita tagged in and the two hit a huge hip toss. Narita threw some stiff forearms and Nelson managed to tag Isaacs, who threw some quick elbows to dominate. He slapped Narita casually, who fired up and lit up Isaacs with a lightning-quick combo and covered for two. Dickinson tagged in and went for a deadlift German. Isaacs blocked it. Rope run and Dickinson hit a deadlift German after all. Corner lariats by Dickinson. Nelson tried to interfere and got some lariats of his own. The two double teamed, then cleared the faces from the apron and posed together to boos. Isaacs tagged Kratos, who threw some big rights, then absorbed some palm strikes and laid Dickinson out. Suplex by Kratos and a cover for two. Limelight tagged in and jawed at Dickinson, who used to be in Team Filthy. He threw a back kick and postured to boos. He ran into a big back elbow and the two made tags to Tiger and Rosser. Rosser dealt with some interference, then took care of business on Limelight and Tiger. Death Valley Driver by Rosser, broken up by Team Filthy. Bonzo gonzo for a minute and everyone took turns hitting spots. Quick tags and spots for the next minute or two, both inside and outside the ring. Rosser tried to tap out Tiger, but Kratos interfered. Kratos teased, then hit, a huge splash on all the faces over a corner to a well-deserved “holy sh*t” chant. Inside, Rosser caught Tiger in a sleeper and Tiger quickly tapped, though Rosser wouldn’t release the hold. Tom Lawlor showed up and attacked Rosser to break it. He went at Rosser until Yuji Nagata’s music played, bringing him out to clear out Lawlor. “Yuji” chant. Nagata took the mic and said tonight he faces Tom Lawlor, and said tonight, he needs to fight for his belt. He goaded Lawlor into putting the championship on the line.

WINNERS: Team Rosser at 13:31. (**)

(Wells’s Analysis: Basic New Japan tag fare to get closer to Lawlor-Rosser)

(3) YUJI NAGATA vs. TOM LAWLOR (c) – New Japan Strong Openweight Championship match

Nagata dominated early with kicks and strikes, but Lawlor caught him with a guillotine over the ropes. I lost my feed for about two minutes here. Lawlor controlled, but Nagata got back into it with kicks until Lawlor yanked him back into a sleeper with a bodyscissors. Action spilled outside, where Lawlor hit a guillotine. Nagata fired up and backed Lawlor into the apron, then hit Lawlor with an exploder. The ring announcer reached 17 and Lawlor entered again (some fans reacted at 10, perhaps unaware of New Japan rules). Nagata threw some kicks in a corner, then hit a double-underhook suplex for two. Lawlor tried to snap on an ankle lock but Nagata caught him in a sleeper on the mat. Lawlor reversed by hitting the ankle lock into a different submission. Nagata teased tapping for about a full minute before reaching a rope. Dropkick by Lawlor and a step-up enzuigiri by Nagata. Nagata worked a sleeper on the mat, then released and continued punishing Lawlor’s arm. Rising knee in the corner by Nagata, who took Lawlor up for a superplex. Two count. Quick sleeper reversals. Nagata broke with a jawbreaker and both guys sold on the mat. Forearm exchange was won by Lawlor, who snapped on a sleeper, but Nagata wrenched Lawlor’s arm. Lawlor put it back on and grounded Nagata, then ran at him for a PK and a two count. Nagata got up and went ballistic to a huge reaction, but Lawlor caught him again, and laid him out with a kick to the back of the head.

WINNER: Tom Lawlor at 13:58. (***1/2)

(Wells’s Analysis: Nagata continues to produce at a ludicrous level given his age, and Lawlor has another very good match to defend the title. I don’t know if there are any plans at all to bring him over for the G-1 Climax tournament this summer, but I’d be in favor of seeing what he could do there)

(4) UNITED EMPIRE (Aaron Henare & Jeff Cobb & TJP & Great O-Khan & Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. BULLET CLUB (Hikuleo & El Phantasmo & Chris Bey & Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows & Scott Norton)

Big pops for both O-Khan and Cobb, the newly-crowned IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Hikuleo could be the story of this match, as his brothers (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) were kicked out of Bullet Club, and Jay White has said “We may not be done trimming the fat” although he sought to convince Hikuleo he was still good with them. Norton is a fun bit of stunt casting for New Japan, where he was a legend during his prime. Anderson officially called him the newest member of Bullet Club before the match, though I’d assume this is a one-off.

Bey and TJP to start. Quick shoulder block by Bey, leading to a typical lightning-quick cruiserweight sequence early. Henare and Hikuleo tagged in. Henare tossed his jacket and struck quickly on the much taller Hikuleo. Hikuleo shoved off Henare and laid him out with a big right, and tried fruitlessly to get back into it with rights of his own. Henare use a spin kick to create separation. Norton tagged in to a big pop. Lockup and Norton shoved him back. Cobb tagged in to a huge reaction. Deadlift suplex by Cobb, and Norton got up immediately. Norton managed a suplex also. Norton wanted a test of strength, and Cobb mimicked an old man in a walker, then went for it. Norton got the early upper hand, but Cobb reversed. Norton threw some kicks and TJP tagged in to boos. Norton clubbed TJP and cleared out Cobb. He tagged Phantasmo, who then tagged Bey as the two struck quickly on TJP. Back to Phantasmo, who cleared UE from the corner and then did a series of flips and flourishes just to end with a back rake. He does that often, and I love it every time. Anderson tagged in for a longer, slower back rake. Gallows tagged in next, and he took his gloves off to do the next back rake. Hikuleo tagged in and he went up top. He teased a big top rope move, then dropped to the mat and did a back rake also. Norton tagged in and threw a couple of clubs, then did a back rake of his own to an ever-growing pop. TJP got back into it with some reversals and kicks on Phantasmo and made the tag to Davis. Davis picked both Phantasmo and Bey up and slammed them together. Big melee outside the ring during the main action. Fletcher tagged in and the normal tag partners worked their tag finisher on Bey. Anderson & Gallows broke it up, then had a moment with O-Khan and Cobb and did the championship pantomime. O-Khan did his leaping Mongolian chops until Gallows managed a lariat. Cobb cleared out Gallows and we went back to the legal men. Fletcher and Davis tried again on Bey, but Phantasmo broke it up. Fletcher and Davis dominated Bey and Phantasmo, then hit their assisted-powerslam finisher and Davis got the pin on Bey. Great O-Khan, who almost always gets mic time and runs down the names of the team, did that here. A few morons tried to do the “What” chant, but it didn’t catch on. O-Khan gave the crowd a few poses in appreciation of the love they showed him tonight, and they chanted his name. That was likely a lot of fun for O-Khan, as in Japan right now, they still haven’t been allowed to make noise in the crowd.

In a very bizarre moment, while the next video package was playing, a hot mic picked up some of the guys from the previous match talking about a little thing that almost went wrong when someone got tangled up in a rope.

WINNERS: United Empire at 11:42. (***)

(Wells’s Analysis: Bullet Club multi-man matches have been iffy with all the outside interference and weapons in recent years, but this one was pure fanservice and fun from the opening bell. UE have continued to win the vast majority of their tag matches.)

(5) DAVID FINLAY & JUICE ROBINSON & BRODY KING vs. JONAH & SHANE HASTE & BAD DUDE TITO – Chicago Street Fight

Jonah, formerly Bronson Reed in NXT, is a monster heel on New Japan Strong, joined by Shane Haste, who was Shane Thorne in WWE. This feud came about as Jonah repeatedly tortured David and younger brother Brogan Finlay, until Juice and Brody King got involved.

Action stayed outside early, even over the barricade in front of the fans. King and Haste fought there and then fought way back through the crowd to a set of stairs and up. King put down Haste, who started rolling down the stairs. Yikes. Elsewhere, Jonah and Finlay fought in a very poorly lit area. The audience was also in the dark on a lot of it as there was little other than a low rumble as they struggled to see the action. King battered…someone…in the crowd but the camera simply couldn’t get close enough to catch it. The camera cut between well-lit and poorly-lit areas where guys threw strikes, and we got a lot of quick camera panning as camera people fought to find the action as it moved around. Jonah and Juice finally managed a clear spot at the top of the ramp – a Jonah slam – before we went back to the darkness as others brawled. I’ve barely even seen Tito all match long (I think). Juice used a fire extinguisher on the heels to fire up the crowd for a couple seconds, then hit them with a plancha over a barricade. Trash cans got involved, and Finlay battered Haste with a lid. The action went back to the ring area, which was a massive help since now the viewers could actually see it. Finlay wrapped a cookie sheet over Jonah’s back. Some plunder hit the ring, and it was startlingly like a WWE match with the same trash cans, cookie sheets, and even a stop sign. Cannonball by Finlay on Jonah in the corner. Juice followed with one and Brody King hit one as well. King set up some chairs for a spot, but they instead decided to hold Jonah in place for a big Brody chair shot. Action went outside the ring, where guys hit backdrops on the apron. Juice brought a ladder to the ring and Tito speared him. Juice and Tito were in matching white tanktops and jeans, which was a little amusing. Tito charged in toward Juice, who hit him with a ladder. Tito shortly after managed to backdrop Juice on the ladder, just for King to hit the ring and put Tito through the set of chairs with a Death Valley Driver. King threw a trash can over Haste, who tried a lame kick to big laughs. King shook his head and chopped the trash can, flipping Haste over. Jonah caught King with a running back elbow, and Finlay hit the ring to light up Jonah with the cookie sheet. Everyone got involved, then cleared out, and the ring ended up with Jonah and Finlay. Jonah set a trash can on Finlay, then sat on both, and then hit Finlay with the can. Finlay bled a small amount from the forehead. Jonah bit Finlay’s head and we missed a big table spot on the outside, only seeing the aftermath with King laying in the wreckage. Back inside, all three heels were in with Finlay, and they charged him into a table, where Haste hit him with a senton. Tito hit a spinning sitout piledriver on Finlay and got a two count. Haste and Tito held Finlay in place, prone against the buckle, and Jonah hammered him with a kendo stick. On his attempt at a third shot, Juice blocked him from behind, and Juice and King went at the heels with kendo sticks. King had also set up a door (really) in a corner, which looks to be coming into play soon. The faces threw chairs into the ring and the fans chanted “EC-Dub” for a second. Finlay checked his back for some wicked welts as he passed by the camera. Juice superlexed Tito on the chairs, then King did the same to Haste and Finlay did a sunset flip to Jonah on the chairs. Juice threw a few chairs out of the way, clearing a path to the chair. Tito tried to cut off whatever he was doing, but Juice speared him through the flimsy door. There was also a ladder draped from the ring to a barricade. Jonah set up King on it, then went to the top rope, where he splashed King through it.

In the ring, Finlay and Haste exchanged rights until Finlay got the better of it and suplexed Haste on a chair. He threw some chairs out at Haste, who was lying at ringside. Finlay grabbed a shillelagh, but Jonah was concealing a metal hammer, and he laid out Finlay with it. Juice managed to hit Jonah with it, then hit Pulp Friction on Jonah. Finlay recovered and used the shillelagh on Jonah a trio of times to finish.

WINNERS: David Finlay & Juice Robinson & Brody King at 28:49. (**1/2)

(Wells’s Analysis: Honestly, I didn’t want to go that high. Everything here felt very familiar, other than the horrible lighting and baffling directorial decisions in the early going. It also massively overstayed its welcome, which is a bizarre regularity for street fights, which should literally all be shorter than regular matches or there’s no reason to get excited about the weapons. The crowd went through a pretty long period of being quiet before big spots finally started to happen. On the upside, Finlay getting the duke on Jonah felt like a strong button on the feud that was presented, so the booking succeeded even as I was lukewarm on the match at best)

-Intermission to clean the debris from the ring and disinfect. There was a small “Clean forever” chant, followed by “Holy clean.”

(6) SHOTA UMINO vs. JAY WHITE – U.S. of Jay Open Challenge match

Backstage, Jon Moxley fired up someone to face White. He got up into frame, and it was graduated Young Lion Shota Umino, with sharp new gear and a jacket that said “Shooter.” No promises yet, but he always had the look of a top guy, and he’s got the swagger of it here as well. I’m predicting the top of the card for Umino in the next few years.

Umino went right after White early, laying him out with an ax-handle. Umino battered White with kicks, and White bailed to the outside. Back inside and Umino floated over and hit a DDT. Big uppercut from Umino in the corner, followed by some more. Irish whip, reversed, and White yanked Umino to the mat by his hair. Huge chop from White got a gasp from the crowd, as did a second. Mudhole stomp by White and a few chops in the corner, including one that sent Umino spilling to the floor. White took Umino to a barricade, then another, and another. Another chop from White, who broke the ref’s count to get back to work. He rolled Umino inside, then jawed at a fan and went to the ring. Hard lariat by White got a two count. Half-crab by White, broken as Umino reached a rope. White lingered on the move as long as he could. White kicked dismissively at Umino, then worked a headlock on the mat. White mocked Umino with the “Too Sweet”/”Woop woop” call and response with the crowd. White tried a relentless series of covers for one counts. White picked up Umino’s head and ragged him by saying “Daddy’s watching” (Umino’s dad is New Japan senior referee Red Shoes Unno), then slapped him. Umino got in a shot and the crowd sought to fire him up. Running Euro uppercut by Umino, and a fisherman suplex for two. After some reversals, Umino hit a kneelift, then a reverse DDT for two. Umino went for some kind of rollup and White reached a rope. White choked Umino on the top rope, then hit a spike DDT in the ring. White threw some chops and hit a twisting suplex for two. White put the knees to Shota’s midsection, then hit a quick spear in the corner. White yelled “Your dad is a legend! You’re a f***ing embarrassment.” Shota tried some forearms and White kept mocking him. White blocked a lariat and threw a fist to the midsection, then hit a uranage for two. White hit some chops and Umino sought to fight through them. More chops from White until Umino hit a big palm strike. Pump-handle slam by Umino got two. White pushed Umino to a corner in desperation, and Umino slammed his head against the buckle pad to fire up. Umino blocked the Blade Runner, then hit a German suplex with a bridge for two. White blocked a move and hit Blade Runner.

WINNER: Jay White at 15:45. (***3/4)

(Wells’s Analysis: Excellent outing for Umino, though I thought it was possible they were going all the way to have him cut off White’s winning streak here to set big things in motion. I’d still expect Umino to show up in the G-1 this year and have a strong showing if he’s deemed ready; New Japan hasn’t gone all the way with a debuting wrestler since Kazuchika Okada, but I’ve got the strongest feeling Umino’s going to be a big deal right away back in Japan)

(7) TOMOHIRO ISHII vs. MINORU SUZUKI

Both guys enjoyed big reactions, some of which may be helped along by their AEW appearances. The crowd yelled along the loudest “Kaze Ni Nare” I’ve ever heard along with Suzuki’s music. Even the opening bell got a pop here. Long forearm exchange to open – 45 seconds or so. They took a small break and went back at it. Both guys missed some impact kicks and reset to another big pop; this is the hottest that a hot crowd has been all night. Both guys went for chokes and looked to shove the hand of the other away. Suzuki wrenched Ishii’s arm over the top rope, then took Ishii outside to put him in a barricade. Suzuki tossed Ishii over a barricade and fired up the crowd. Both guys grabbed chairs and struck them into one another. They dropped the chairs and Suzuki put Ishii into another barricade. Back inside and Suzuki worked Ishii’s arm with kicks. Ishii fougt back with some rights and shots to the midsection. Forearms by Ishii were absorbed, but Suzuki charged into a powerslam by Ishii. Ishii threw chops and back elbows in a corner, then exploded out of another with a block. Suzuki fought off a fireman’s carry and hit a big boot in a corner, followed by a PK. Cover for two.

Suzuki wiped his foot on Ishii’s face, then kicked at him. Ishii started absorbing shots and they went to another forearm exchange. Ishii started no-selling completely and got in Suzuki’s face. He threw a huge right to level Suzuki in a corner. Ishii spat at Suzuki and waited for him to get up. “You f***ed up” chant. More forearms in the center of the ring. Suzuki dialed up a big one and Ishii staggered but didn’t go down. Again. Ishii threw a loud one. More from Suzuki and after a third, Ishii finally went down. Suzuki ran the ropes for a PK, and Ishii absorbed it to cheers. Running kicks and lariats from both guys. Palm strikes by both and the crowd just completely exploded. Both guys crumbled in opposite corners and appreciative cheers rang out. They fought to their feet and exchanged some more forearms; Ishii got the upper hand with some one-two. Suzuki threw some quick combos with palm strikes and Ishii went down. Headbutts by Suzuki, and a stiff one crumbled Ishii. Suzuki ran the ropes for a big boot and got just a one count that got the crowd going nuts. Suzuki wanted the Gotch-style piledriver, but Ishii fought it off three times and backdropped Suzuki. Ishii hit a big right forearm and both guys went flying into corners again. Ishii ran the ropes for a lariat, but needed two to put Suzuki down, and he got right back up. Ishii hit a third for a one count, and the crowd ate it up again. Combo strikes from Suzuki and a step-up enzuigiri from Ishii. Sliding lariat from Ishii got two. After some reversals, Suzuki took Ishii down with a hard right. Suzuki tried the Gotch again, but again Ishii fought it off, and he hit a hard lariat and followed with the vertical brainbuster to finish.

After the match, Eddie Kingston walked to the ring to a strong reaction. He kissed his hand and touched the New Japan Lion Mark in the middle of the ring. He congratulated Ishii on the amazing match, and called him the strong style pit bull. He mentioned that they were trained by Genichiro Tenryu and Riki Choshu, two of his idols. He said he wanted to face Ishii on May 14th in Washington. He bowed deep to Ishii and went back up the ramp.

WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii at 18:28. (****1/4)

(Wells’s Analysis: These two are always a dream to see against one another, as both are booked as relentless, brutish machines, so something has to give when they face off. Suzuki doesn’t have many years of this left, so it’s a gift every time to see him in a match this awesome. It didn’t matter at all who won this match, seemingly, but the post-match angle made it clear it had to go this way. Kingston-Ishii should be another violent masterpiece)

(8) JON MOXLEY vs. WILL OSPREAY

Ospreay got a melodramatic opening video that ran down his accomplishments in pro wrestling so far. Moxley and Ospreay got into it among the crowd before any bell; this is in Moxley’s wheelhouse but not Ospreay’s so I’m interested to see how they work this. They went to the ring and Moxley chopped Ospreay and went at him. My feed blipped and came back on Ospreay tossing a chair at Moxley’s head from inside the barricade; Moxley bladed – wow, that’s getting old – and bled way more than the spot warranted. Back inside and Ospreay threw rights on a grounded Moxley. Ospreay threw rights and easily evaded return fire as Moxley was on jelly legs, trying to get back into it. Ospreay took Moxley to a corner and threw a big kick, then hovered over him dismissively and threw a right. Spinning backbreaker by Ospreay got a two count. Ospreay nailed Moxley with chops and Moxley tried some rights to get back into it. Ospreay tried his sprinboard back elbow, but Moxley caught him for a German suplex, then sent Ospreay headfirst into the barricade on the outside. Dang. After all this blood and danger, we got the call that the match was five minutes old (it was actually about seven).

Back inside for both, and Moxley hit a running knee. Moxley went up for some punches in the corner, then bit Ospreay’s head. Ospreay missed an OsCutter and Moxley let him just drop to the mat in a surprising spot, and Moxley covered for two. Forearm exchange in the middle of the ring. Ospreay hit a springboard heel kick, then a pump kick in the corner. Ospreay came off the top and hit an uppercut to the back of Moxley’s head and covered for two. Ospreay threw some kicks, but Moxley caught him with a half-and-half, then another. The ten minute call was right on time, so I’m not sure what happened before.

Action went out to the apron, where both guys threw forearms. Back rake by Moxley, but Ospreay hopped up to the buckle and hit an OsCutter on the apron to a big reaction. Ospreay put Moxley over the barricade and onto a table, then went back over the barricade, into the ring and up the buckle to hit a flying elbow to a holy sh*t chant. Both guys sold on the floor after that.

The ring guy counted, and Moxley made a point to fight his way back in right at ten, so he may have forgotten who was wrestling for tonight. Quick reversals in the ring led to Dirty Deeds, but Ospreay hit a DDT immediately after and both guys sold on the mat. They hit their knees and exchanged some forearms. They got all the way to their feet and Moxley managed a lariat, but got only two and sold shock. Lariat after lariat didn’t put either guy down, but then they hit them simultaneously and both guys hit the mat. Piledriver by Moxley, but Moxley ran the ropes into a sit-out powerbomb for an Ospreay two count. Ospreay missed a running blade, and Moxley back elbowed him into oblivion and then worked a headlock. Half-and-half by Moxley, but Ospreay rolled through, then hit an OsCutter for two.

Ospreay threw forearms to Moxley’s back, then tossed away the ref as he tried to check on Moxley to boos. Ospreay measured Moxley, but ran into a lariat. Curb Stomp by Moxley got a very long two, and Ospreay, now bloodied himself, defiantly raised two birds to Moxley. Moxley tried his finisher, but Ospreay reversed to a slam for two. Hidden blade also got two. Stormbreaker was blocked and Moxley hit his finisher. It got super awkward as the referee screwed up the timing and the end wasn’t overly clear to the audience, and Ospreay tapped even after the screen showed Moxley having won by pinfall. Moxley gave Dirty Deeds to the referee, which was refreshing after that mess of an ending (I’ve seen this referee blow other moments in New Japan matches before…sigh).

Moxley said he thought Ospreay was a spoiled entitled (talented) bitch, but Ospreay had some heart. He continued to put over Ospreay huge, and said Ospreay didn’t run, and that’s more than he can say for some in New Japan Pro Wrestling, like Hiroshi Tanahashi. He said Tana has been ducking him at every turn, and he tried to show him respect, but he was getting impatient. He demanded the match for Washington, DC, and said it was Tana’s last chance to accept his challenge. He said they can do this the easy way, or he can do this the hard way, dragging Tanahashi to DC by his “stupid f***in’ ponytail.” He said there was a new Ace in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Throughout the promo, Moxley was mostly booed, which is fortunate as he will 100% play heel against Tanahashi.

WINNER: Jon Moxley in about 20:30. (****)

(Wells’s Analysis: These two worked their asses off, so what a bummer that this finish was off as it was. I was ready to go four and a half before that (not that people need to care about star ratings, but no doubt the finish hurt it for anyone watching). The post-match angle worked toward a match I definitely feel like I’ve been hearing about forever, as COVID pushed it well past where it was supposed to happen, so now it’s amazingly still unfinished business)


FINAL THOUGHTS: This was predictably a thoroughly enjoyable show, with the significant exception of the street fight, where the booking was overbearing and the production was almost nonexistent; I think it’s been a long time since I disliked a match so much for reasons that had basically nothing to do with the wrestlers involved. All in all, the show was a resounding success, as the crowd was hot for the majority of the longish running time (3:35 plus any pre-show business) and pieces were set in motion for some top matches for the big May show in DC. High recommendation to check this one out, as I’d give the night a solid 8.5/10, with the final three matches all being as must-see as people would hope.

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