For the third time this year, New Japan make a stop in the states. Lack of advertising, lack of heat, oversaturation, whatever the case may be, the attendance was noticeably poor. In any case, Kenny Omega is once again featured in the main event, this time alongside his partner, Kota Ibushi, as they take on Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii in the main event. Also featured are the Young Bucks, Cody and Marty Scurll. The Bullet Club are here, let’s get started.
Liger, Taguchi & ACH def. Romero, YOH & SHO @ 8:56 via Taguchi Dodon on Romero – **1/4
Both Liger and Taguchi received very warm reactions from the crowd to open up the show. ACH had an insane hot tag that rivals any other in wrestling today. He shouted out Tiger Mask with a leg sweep, followed by a kick before shooting through the ropes on both YOH & SHO while Taguchi took care of Rocky with a Dodon.
I was scanning through the match looking for Chaos clues. YOH did the Okada clean break and a little later inadvertently knocked Romero to the floor. What this all means remains to be seen. The ACH hot tag kept the pace up and was the highlight of the match.
Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian def. Hangman Page & Chase Owens @ 8:14 via Best Meltzer Ever on Owens – **1/4
Page and Kazarian opened up with a heated forearm exchange. Daniels threw in some creative offense, serving as a one-man wrecking crew by giving Owens a Uranage slam onto an already falling Page. Everything involving Page here was good stuff. He looked for the Shooting Star shoulder tackle off the apron but fell into a Codebreaker from Kazarian instead. This kept Page down long enough for them to hit the Best Meltzer Ever on Owens and pick up the win.
Cobb, Gordon & Sabin def. Goto, Beretta & Chuckie T. @ 12:05 via Cobb Tour of the Islands on Chuckie – ***1/4
New ROH Television Champion, Jeff Cobb, came out with a confidence we rarely see from him. He cut off the Best Friends hug, Goto cut off Cobb’s dive and Chuck cut off Beretta’s dive to give him the hug that Cobb delayed. Flip had a hot tag good enough to rival ACH’s. His included a double step Senton to the outside, a top rope crossbody and a slingshot Slingblade. Cobb and Goto had a nice big boy exchange that ended in an attempted standing Moonsault from Cobb but came up empty. Chuck shocked everyone by dropping Cobb with a Piledriver but Sabin and Flip broke up the count and gave Cobb the chance to give Chuck a Tour of the Islands for the win. Non-stop good stuff from everybody. Perfectly paced, everyone looked good. Watch this match.
Sabre & K.E.S. def. Naito, EVIL & SANADA @ 9:30 via Sabre Bridging Leg Clutch Hold on EVIL – **1/2
No surprise, Suzuki-Gun attack before the bell. They looked to target SANADA but he Hurricanrana’d himself out of Archer’s Chokeslam and hot tagged Naito. After a short flurry, Smith bought himself time via a Belly-to-Belly suplex. Naito fought out of the Killer Bomb, landed a Satellite DDT and tagged EVIL. With a Fishman’s Buster suplex and Darkness Falls, EVIL looked to be in control but when going for the finishing blow, Sabre rolled him up for the win. Post-match, Smith and Archer attacked the young lions while Sabre taunted EVIL whose head was left spinning. He continues to drop matches to Sabre in unexpected ways. His LIJ brothers console him to the best of their abilities as they make their way to the back.
Jay White & Gedo def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA @ 8:53 via White Blade Runner on Tanahashi – **
Tanahashi wasn’t looking to play any of White’s games. He came out to the floor and attacked White, threw him back into the ring and gave him a Dragon Screw Leg Whip. He turns his back on White for a crossbody off the second and White makes him pay by dumping Tanahashi to the outside and choking him with the microphone chord. Gedo makes his presence felt by taking the opportunity to poke Tanahahi in the eyes several times before Tanahashi finally landed the crossbody off the second and tagged KUSHIDA. He came in hot with a cartwheel dropkick, jumping DDT and the Hoverboard Lock. White broke up the hold and dragged Gedo to their corner for the tag. He battles back and forth with Tanahashi for a second but once Tanahashi gains the advantage, Gedo pops him with the brass knuckles while the referee’s back is turned and White finishes Tanahashi with the Blade Runner.
Really nice heat here from the crowd. They chanted F*** you, Switchblade as he took the mic and told everyone that NJPW are afraid of the possibility of him versus Omega, two foreigners, headlining the Tokyo Dome.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semifinal
Marty Scurll def. Will Ospreay @ 16:07 via Graduation – ***1/2
Ospreay starts off fast, immediately hitting a Spanish Fly. Scurll bails but is met with a Sasuke Special, thrown back in for a top rope Shooting Star Press and bails once again before Ospreay could connect with the Oscutter. Ospreay throws him back in once more, lands a Springboard forearm from the top, begins to pepper Scurll with midkicks but Scurll catches the leg and European Uppercuts Ospreay out of the ring. Scurll ducks Ospreay’s flurry and curb stomps him face first into the mat before standing on the back of his head. Ospreay hits a desperation handspring Enziguri, quickly followed by a top rope 619 but Scurll kicks him to the outside, tease the apron Spanish Fly but do a Sunset Bomb to the floor instead.
Ospreay looks to finish with an Oscutter, is caught in a backslide into a superkick, but refuses to stay down. He flurries and takes Scurll up top but the Villain crotches and Ranas off the second. They trade strikes until Scurll baits Ospreay into the Chickenwing. Ospreay rolls him up to get out. Scurll takes them to the top this time, delivering a Tiger Suplex, a lariat turning Ospreay inside out and finishes with Graduation.
Insane. That’s all these guys know how to be. It’s sickening how fluidly these two work together. Scurll and KUSHIDA will decide the next junior champion at King of Pro-Wrestling.
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerillas of Destiny def. The Young Bucks (c) @ 19:21 via Tama Gun Stun on Matt – ***3/4
Making his feelings known off the top, Tama dumps the titles to the floor during ring introductions. There’s a dueling chant before the teams touch. G.O.D. attempt to use their power to gain control but the Bucks are too elusive, Nick hits them with a double dropkick and they grind on Tama. When attempting a double team suplex, Matt’s back goes out on him and G.O.D. smell blood in the water. Tanga drives him back first into the rails, sets up a table on the outside but Nick stops him before he could drive Matt through.
G.O.D. use their power to overcome Nick’s fire and catch Matt up on the top rope, and drive him through the table. With Nick isolated, Tama connects with a splash from the top and Tanga drops him with a delayed vertical suplex, both for two counts. Nick is able to flurry with a springboard facebuster + apron Moonsault combination but Matt is still down.
Tama comes from behind with a Tongan Twist, goes for another that Nick handstands out of, Superkicks Tama and Matt is back in his corner for the tag. He cleans house, dumping Tanga over the top and locks in the Sharpshooter on Tama. Tanga breaks the hold from behind and drives Matt back first onto Tama’s knee. Nick jumps off the top for a crossbody but is caught, manages to fight out and calls for the Superkick Party before peppering Tanga.
They set up for More Bang for Your Buck but Matt’s back causes him to delay the Moonsault which allows Tanga enough time to regroup. The Bucks want to end it, call for the Indytaker, but with Nick in midair, Tama flies in out of nowhere with a Gun Stun. Tanga plants Matt with Apeshit for a nearfall, Matt kicks his way free of the Magic Killer but Tanga throws him up into the air where Tama finds him with a Gun Stun for the win.
This was a lot of fun. Both of those Gun Stuns caught me by surprise and now G.O.D. are double champions. Color me surprised. The Bucks reign is over before it even started.
IWGP US Heavyweight Championship
Cody def. Juice Robinson (c) @ 16:49 via Cradle – **3/4
Cody starts off by making his feelings for the crowd known, teasing throwing his shirt to the crowd but instead giving it to Brandi. Cody and Juice begin with mat wrestling, trading go-behinds until Cody reaches the ropes for a clean break. They start up again but when Juice goes for the ropes, Cody continues the attack. Juice looks for a running crossbody but Cody ducks and Juice rolls to the outside yet he manages to catch Cody’s follow up dive and turn it into a belly-to-belly on the floor.
Brandi affords her husband some time by distracting Juice, allowing Cody to hit an inverted DDT on the floor. He throws Juice back in, looking for an elbow drop from the top but Juice dodges, loads up for a Cannonball but Brandi grabs his leg. Juice chases after Brandi and is met with a Flatliner from Cody. Desperately, Juice attempts Pulp Friction, Cody turns it into a backslide, Juice powers out and hits the leg lariat + Cannonball combination.
Cody Ranas out of the Powerbomb, sending Juice into the corner where Brandi rakes his eyes and Cody follows by locking in the Figure Four. Juice manages to flip the pressure, Cody reaches the ropes where Brandi gives him water that he sprays in Juice’s face and hits the Disaster Kick for a two count. Cody charges into the corner, Juice ducks, locks in Pulp, turned to Cross Rhodes, back into Pulp and connects but Brandi pulls Cody out of the ring.
Juice chases, Cody catches him with Cross Rhodes on the outside and both stay down until the count of nineteen. They flop back into the ring and trade punches with the crowd dueling chants in the background. Cody pokes the eyes, superkicks and hits the Vertibreaker for a two count. They battle up on the top, Juice takes control and drops Cody with a Superplex but Cody hooks the leg and cradles Juice for the win.
This had the old school wrestling feel to it and was executed perfectly fine even if it’s not your taste. I won’t recommend this to everyone but if you like that flavor of wrestling you’ll enjoy the match. Cody walks out both NWA and IWGP US Champion.
Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi def. Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii @ 23:06 via Golden Trigger on Ishii – ****1/2
I came into this expecting more progression in the Chaos storyline. Instead, we got a straight up wrestling match and one filled with complete insanity. All four of these guys you could argue are the best in the company. They all have insane chemistry with each other and that was on full display. Ishii wanted more from Omega after their heavyweight title match and shouldered Omega to the mat, knocked Ibushi off the apron, spit at him and furthered the attack on Omega. Ibushi wasn’t having any of that, attacked Ishii from behind and they battled kick versus chop. Ishii won the exchange, tagged in Okada who walked up to Omega on the apron and gave the gun sign and smiled.
Ishii takes Omega to the floor and throws him into the rails. Ibushi lands a desperation dropkick, gets Omega the hot tag but Ishii puts out the fire by escaping the You Can’t Escape combo and hitting Omega with a powerslam. Omega ducks Okada’s attack, Ranas Ishii to the floor, Ibushi dropkicks Okada to the floor and they deliver Cross Slash before sending Okada back in for the double team You Can’t Escape combination. Ishii comes in hot but is extinguished with an Ibushi suplex. Okada charges in with a beautiful John Woo out of nowhere and stares down Omega. They trade strikes, Okada attempts the Rainmaker, Omega ducks and sets up for the One-Winged Angel but Okada escapes, tries the Rainmaker again but Omega turns it into a Dragon suplex.
Ishii cuts off the V-Trigger and eats a Death Valley Driver for his troubles. Okada tries for the Rainmaker once again but is turned into an Uranage. Ishii and Ibushi trade strikes, Ibushi comes out on top and lands his knees into Ishii’s chest with a standing Moonsault for a two count. Immediately, they keep the attack on Ishii, hitting an assisted Bridging German for another nearfall. Okada charges in, looking for a dropkick but Omega sits out into a Powerbomb. Ishii and Ibushi continue their attacks, trading slaps until a huge Lariat from Ibushi for two. Ishii avoids the Kamigoye, turns Ibushi inside out with a Lariat of his own for two. He follows with a high-angle Powerbomb for yet another nearfall. Ibushi lands a high kick + Straightjacket German but Ishii headbutts out of the Kamigoye. Omega and Ibushi hit Ishii with a high kick + V-Trigger combo, dropkick Okada off the apron and finish Ishii with the Golden Trigger.
This was absolutely fantastic. In my opinion, these are the four best the company has to offer and in a main event they went all out and delivered big time. This should definitely end up high on many ‘Match of the Year’ lists.
Post-match, Omega says he knows the fans want the rematch with Ibushi and wants to give the fans what they want. Before Ibushi could agree, Cody takes the microphone and says he wants a three way. Omega agrees to the match and we’re now set with Omega vs Ibushi vs Cody at King of Pro-Wrestling.
Backstage, Omega explains that Cody did him a favor without even realizing it. Omega felt pressured into this singles match with Ibushi but he didn’t want to go through with it so Cody adding himself takes the pressure off. Ibushi was left confused, Omega did most of the talking for him and that’s how we end the show.
Stellar main event and a solid show all around. There are a lot of stories to talk about but the big one coming out of the show is the King of Pro-Wrestling main event. They want to hold off on the Omega/Ibushi singles so adding Cody gives them a buffer. With that said, this is an underwhelming main event for one of the company’s biggest shows of the year. It serves the purpose of both holding off on the singles while also giving Tanahashi ammo to cause more tension between Ibushi and Omega but the actual match we’re getting is underwhelming.
Omega wants to change wrestling and I’m sure a triple threat for the IWGP Heavyweight title is one way of doing that but it’s not something that excites me, personally. As for the rest of this show, the Bucks had another great match, as they always do. We got two title changes with G.O.D. winning the tag and Cody the new US champion. Ospreay and Scurll never disappoint and this wasn’t an exception. There’s a lot to like here, especially the main event. The results can be seen as less than ideal. A weird triple threat main event next week, G.O.D. and Cody as champions, maybe not the most exciting results moving forward. The match quality was there as always but I can see the results leaving bad tastes in the mouths of the hardcore fans. Something else to make note of is that Chaos went winless tonight while White and Gedo came out with a win.
Omega & Ibushi vs Okada & Ishii
Bucks vs Guerillas
Scurll vs Ospreay
Cobb, Flip & Sabin vs Goto, Beretta & Chuckie