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NJPW ‘Fighting Spirit Unleashed’ (9.28.19) Results & Review

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New Japan Pro-Wrestling comes to you live in front of 1,776 fans Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, New York. The NEVER Openweight Championship is on the line as KENTA defends his title against YOSHI-HASHI, the Rock N Roll Express team up with Hiroshi Tanahashi to take on Bullet Club and the main event features the team of Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi facing off with Los Ingobernables de Japon’s EVIL & SANADA.

TJP def. Ren Narita @ 8:48 via ‘Pinoy Stretch’ – **3/4
A short, fun match to kick off the show. Although perhaps not as popular as fellow young lion Shota Umino, Ren Narita still gets the crowd behind him with his baby face fire. TJP endorsed this atmosphere, wrestling with heelish tendencies such as building up to chop Narita just to hit a drop kick. Some nice submissions from TJP and suplexes from Narita followed. The Detonation Kick from TJP got a surprising kick out from Narita which the crowd loved but was ultimately followed up with a step-over single arm undertook stretch, coined the ‘Pinoy Stretch’ on NJPW’s official website.

Lance Archer def. Karl Fredricks @7:37 via EBD Claw – **1/4
This one was hard-hitting and very different to the opener. Fredricks is a star in the making as shown in every outing he has in NJPW. He hit a nice slingshot plancha to the outside and nailed some offense in the ring on Archer but eventually, Archer put Fredricks down with a choke slam which only got a 2 count as Archer broke the pin himself and followed up with the EBD Claw to put Fredricks down.

Mikey Nicholls and Juice Robinson def. Alex Coughlin and Clark Connors @ 8:29 via Mikes Bomb – **1/2
Another short but effective match. Coughlin and Connors, 2 members of Shibata’s Dojo showing their incredible potential for the future, similar to Fredricks in the previous match. However it would be the more established stars to pick up the win. Juice wiped out Connors with The Left Hand of God and another on Coughlin set up the Mikey Bomb to secure the win.

Bullet Club (Jado, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) def. Roppongi 3K (SHO, YOH and Rockey Romero) @ 10:46 via Kill Shot – **
A match to continue G.O.D’s momentum as champions as well as Bullet Club’s momentum as the seemingly most dominant faction in NJPW’s landscape bar CHAOS. Heelish tactics were expected and delivered as Jado nailed YOH with his signature kendo stick. Romero off the top gets caught by Loa and thrown into a Gun Stun from Tonga to get the win.

The Rock n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito) @ 10:19 via High Fly Flow – **1/2
A match that on first glance looks ridiculous given the current landscape of NJPW and those involved. Worth mentioning before the match, Tiger Hatori came to the ring to a wonderful ovation from the crowd as his retirement tour continues. As for the match it was quite basic. Nice to see the potential future of a Takagi vs Tanahashi singles match with a glimpse of action between them. Naito taunting to the RnR Express by holding up the signature LIJ fist bump towards them was a nice touch. However, they got their own back, taking out Naito and Ricky Morton nailing a suicide dive on Shingo Takagi. Tanahashi hit the High Fly Flow on BUSHI for the victory and a nice celebration with Hatori’s family brought into the ring with Hatori himself, Tanahashi and the RnR Express.

Amazing Red, Tomohiro Ishii and Hirooki Goto def. Bullet Club (Gedo, Chase Owes and Jay White) @ 12:02 via GTR – **3/4
I’ve refrained from calling the winning team CHAOS here as Amazing Red’s current allegiance is ‘free’ according to NJPW’s website. This being said it wouldn’t be surprising to see him become their newest member. Great to see Red stick with NJPW as he could be a vital member to the junior division with his match against Ospreay in the Super-J Cup serving as a reminder that he can still wrestle with an insane amount of fire. Goto wiped out White, Red nailed a dive to the outside on Owens leaving Goto to finish off Gedo with the GTR, a win he needed with his seemingly inevitable clash with White for the IC title.

NEVER Openweight Championship
KENTA (c) def. YOSHI-HASHI @ 25:04 via Go 2 Sleep to retain the NEVER Openweight Championship – ***1/4

KENTA’s first defence of the NEVER Openweight title was a successful one despite a perhaps very predictable result. Unfortunately, interference in a Bullet Club match is a given at this point but Tiger Hatori sent out G.O.D who had attacked YOSHI-HASHI with the referee down, getting a good reaction from the crowd. YOSHI-HASHI almost had the match one with the Butterfly Lock as well as a huge lariat and a fisherman’s buster but only getting a 2 count. KENTA countered KARMA and hit some stiff slaps to YOSHI-HASHI, followed by a running busaiku knee and the Go 2 Sleep to retain. Nothing too extraordinary but YOSHI-HASHI had a good showing and KENTA looked dominant as champion, even with outside interference.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and SANADA) def. Kota Ibushi and Kazuchika Okada @ 18:46 via EVIL – ***1/2
The classic NJPW tag formula to build to multiple big matches was in play here, EVIL vs Ibushi and Okada vs SANADA being the 2 big matches for King of Pro-Wrestling. The winners of these matches will meet at Wrestle Kingdom, with the briefcase holder vs champion, creating the (perhaps unlikely) possibility of EVIL vs SANADA. This match built perfectly towards KOPW, EVIL and Ibushi starting and Okada vs SANADA following afterwards. All men played up to their strengths, EVIL and Ibushi nailing strikes and suplexes and Okada and SANADA countering finisher attempts.

EVIL and Ibushi being the 2 legal men led to a great finishing stretch with Ibushi hitting a roundhouse kick followed by Kamigoye countered into EVIL countered back by Ibushi but got caught with a headbutt and a lariat for 2. A lariat off the ropes followed by EVIL’s signature STO put Ibushi down for 3, ending the night on a surprising finish, with the G1 Climax winner suffering yet another loss to EVIL. LIJ end the night on top, a night with little surprise until the end but a fun night of wrestling nonetheless.

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