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NJPW ’46th Anniversary Show’ 3.6.18 Results & Review



New Japan Pro-Wrestling celebrates its 46th anniversary with two championship matches and the traditional main event spectacle between the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champions. Let’s see what happened!

Tenzan, Liger, Tiger, KUSHIDA & Taguchi def. Nagata, Oka, Umino, Yagi & Narita @ 7:31 via KUSHIDA Cross Armbreaker on Umino
Strong showcase for Umino, who got the most offense despite being the one to also take the fall. He and KUSHIDA had a really fun exchange in the closing stretch. Nagata attempted to rally his troops but was unable to bring them to victory.

Goto, Ishii & Yano def. Juice, Finlay & Henare @ 7:41 via Goto GTR on Henare
Juice debuts his new pants, rivaling those of Okada’s, which I also love. Between Juice, SANADA and Okada, we have a close contest on who has the biggest upgrade in attire this year. Henare continues to take it to Ishii. Their contests get better and better as they go along. Fun match, everyone looked good.

Nakanishi versus Kitamura was cancelled due to Kitamura currently going through a concussion. Hopefully he gets better soon!

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Kanemaru & Desperado def. Roppongi 3K (c) & Hiromu & BUSHI @ 14:36 via Desperado Crucifix Pin on SHO

Match of the night, as far as I’m concerned. This was a lot of fun as both the Suzuki-Gun and LIJ teams traded off blind tags, trying to take advantage of 3K’s weaknesses. The finish was BUSHI spraying the mist on SHO but Kanemaru fired back with his whiskey mist on BUSHI. Desperado made a blind tag and pinned the mist-covered SHO. Through three matches so far this year, the IWGP Jr. Tag titles have been the most consistently fun. Each time new wrinkles are added into the story of 3K. They are tasked with overcoming the odds and just when you think they have succeeded, something new pops up and they fall victim. Of course, this won’t be the last we see of these three teams and right now, that’s a good thing.

SANADA def. YOSHI-HASHI @ 17:39 via Moonsault
For the first ten minutes they had a hell of a time trying to get the crowd invested. Y-H always fails in the big profile matches and through the first half of this match there was no reason to think different. Then the tide started shifting. I found myself biting on nearfalls. Of course Y-H wasn’t beating Naito but SANADA isn’t exactly Naito, is he? I was positive Y-H would reach the ropes when SANADA applied Skull End. There was no way he would give up to SANADA. No way. So SANADA pulled out his Moonsault to gain the victory. Color me impressed. I understand if you tuned out before it got good but if you stuck around, this was a pleasure in the final minutes. Now the problem will once again be believing in Y-H. He got me this time but with two straight losses and Ibushi coming up, it’ll be a tall task. All that said, this was a very good match, my second favorite of the night.

Tetsuya Naito def. Taichi @ 14:07 via Destino
Taichi took it to Naito early on, powerbombing him onto the stage and nearly receiving a count out win not even two minutes into the match. Going into the tonight I did think that this would be a win for Taichi, likely by shenanigans, as Taichi is notoriously known for, but no. Instead, it was a spirited battle where, yes, Taichi did try to cheat but he also had moments of looking credible. Naito began getting fed up with the shenanigans and gave Taichi a taste of his own medicine. The match ended with a Destino but not before Naito delivering a dick kick and breaking Taichi’s microphone over his head. Naito is back on the right track after losing to Okada at Wrestling Kingdom, now with two back-to-back wins. Taichi looks somewhat credible even in defeat. I thought we’d see the cheater win here but maybe that’s one they’re saving for his match against Tanahashi this weekend. Post-match TAKA warns Naito of Zack Sabre Jr., his first round opponent in the New Japan Cup. Personally, I felt the match delivered as much as anyone could have realistically wanted.

IWGP Intercontinital Championship
Minoru Suzuki (c) def. Togi Makabe @ 19:05 via Gotch-Style Piledriver

Makabe made his first challenge for a singles title in nearly three years, standing up for the ace, Tanahashi, who fell to Suzuki in January. We all knew going in that this wasn’t Makabe’s battle to win. It was nice of him to stand up for Tanahashi but he’s not at Suzuki’s level right now. Perfectly fine match that saw Suzuki continue to bully around broken down wrestlers on his way to victory. They had an acceptable match that didn’t feel out of place on the card but it wasn’t anything particularly memorable, just another Suzuki victim. The crowd was rallying behind Makabe the entire time and created a nice atmosphere.

Kazuchika Okada def. Will Ospreay @ 25:26 via Rainmaker
The special attraction main event that saw the traditional heavyweight champion challenged by the junior heavyweight champion. Ospreay looked to prove himself against not only his Chaos leader, but the man on top of New Japan. The crowd was firmly behind Ospreay, urging him to give his all and not give up. As in all Ospreay matches, there were plenty of innovative spots, ones never seen before and likely never to be seen again. Not many are on his level of creativity. They really made every moment count as they didn’t rush anything, taking their time into the big moments before slowing back down once more and repeated this pattern until the finish. Personally, this didn’t live up to the hype for me. There were plenty of nice moments but it was far too slow and contained a lot of filler in order to get it to a standard main event length. Take five minutes off and I would have enjoyed this a lot more. That’s not to say this wasn’t a cool match to see but it did drag at times and wasn’t as high energy as I had expected. Still, Ospreay showed off what he’s best known for, being one of the most creative and forward thinking wrestlers on the planet. Post-match they embrace and Okada says he loves Ospreay as a wrestler and thinks of him as a little brother.

This was a solid show where I felt everything delivered and nothing felt out of place. We didn’t get anything we’ll likely remember at the end of the year other than maybe the main event and that will be more so due to the spectacle of champion versus champion than the match itself. Still, a very enjoyable show from beginning to end.

Recommended Matches
Roppongi 3K vs Hiromu & BUSHI vs Kanemaru & Desperado
Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay

Robert McCauley watches wrestling all around Japan. In particular, he's most knowledgeable about the world of New Japan but he's always looking to learn more.