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NJPW ‘Royal Quest’ (8.31.19) Results & Review

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New Japan Pro-Wrestling heads to the UK with four titles on the line. Headlined by an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match between Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki, the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship is also on the line as Hiroshi Tanahashi takes on Zack Sabre Jr. Also featured on the card, Aussie Open make their first challenge for IWGP gold as the winner’s of the previous night’s RevPro tournament as they take on current champions, Guerrillas of Destiny. There’s a lot to get into, let’s get started!

Rocky Romero, YOH & SHO def. Ryusuke Taguchi, Shota Umino & Ren Narita @ 8:19 via SHO Power Breaker on Narita – **1/2
YOH and Umino start off by trading waistlocks and wristlocks before Umino gets a headlock takeover and they stalemate. Umino charges in, takes a boot followed by an uppercut, reverses an Irish whip and takes YOH down with a pair of uppercuts. SHO comes in to aide his partner, Taguchi breaks up their flurry, looks for a hip attack on Romero who holds the ropes and brings the match back into 3K’s control. They make quick tags to keep Umino isolated in their corner. The crowd rallies for Umino with “Shooter” chants, Romero calls for a brainbuster but gets it reversed into one from Umino who gets the tag to Taguchi. A flurry of hip attacks to all three members of 3K, punctuated by one off the top rope to Romero for two.

Romero slides out of a suplexes and goes into a pair of corner lariats, eats a hip attack but gives one out in return. They tag out to SHO and Narita, Narita clearing the apron and bringing in Umino for a double team that scores him a two count. SHO gets the ropes before a Boston Crab can be applied, Narita rolls him away from the ropes and locks in the Texas Cloverleaf. Getting to the ropes, SHO forces the break and YOH comes in with a thrust kick and they drop Taguchi with a pop up flatliner. Narita scores a couple of flash pin attempts, slaps SHO, eats a lariat and kicks out of a bridging suplex at two. SHO picks Narita right back up and finishes him with a powerbomb into a lungblower.

Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson def. Yujiro Takahashi & Hikuleo @ 8:46 via Ibushi Kamigoye on Hikuleo – **1/2
Hikuleo takes a swing at Juice on the apron before turning his attention to Ibushi. He knocks Ibushi to the mat, his Irish whip is countered and eats a dropkick from Ibushi who sends Juice in for a double team ending in a corner cannonball. Yujiro crotches Juice on the top rope, Hikuleo gives Ibushi a short-arm lariat and taunts with the Kamigoye signal. A scoop slam and leg drop scores Hikuleo a two count. He takes Ibushi to his corner with a chop and tags in Yujiro who hits a leg drop of his own for the same two count. Ibushi fights back to his feet with forearms, takes a boot to the gut, gets sent to the corner but elbows Hikuleo off the apron before hoping over Yujiro and making the tag to Juice.

Fired up punches and lariats to Yujiro before Juice turns his attention to Hikuleo with a plancha and climbs to the top for a cross body on Yujiro but he moves, Juice lands on his feet and connects with a spinebuster. Yujiro catches a kick and sends Juice to the mat, lands a sliding kick to the head followed by a fisherman’s buster for two. Juice slides off the shoulders and hoists Yujiro up for Juice Box and they tag out. Ibushi flurry strikes and hits a standing moonsault for two. Hikuleo turns a Kamigoye into a Falcon Arrow, Juice breaks up the count with a cannonball and Yujiro comes in to even the score. Ibushi cradles Hikuleo, follows through with a Boma Ye and scores the win with Kamigoye.

Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles def. Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo @ 10:36 via Red Wing on Ishimori – ***
Bullet Club attack from behind before the bell. Eagles and Ospreay duck the lariats, lands a pair of ranas, Ospreay fakes a dive and Eagles follows with a tope. They bring Ishimori in for a double team flurry of kicks, ELP comes in to even the score but gets monkey flipped by Eagles into a kick from Ospreay for two. Ospreay makes the tag to Eagles who lays in a series of kicks to the chest, hits the ropes and is cut off by Ishimori. ELP uses the distraction to connect with a thrust kick for two. Eagles gets his nipples twisted, reverses an Irish whip but is caught with a springboard crossbody followed by a Lionsault for two. Ishimori gets the tag, does his corner flurry and springboard sitout dive for another two before tagging ELP. They knock Ospreay off the apron, tie Eagles in the tree of woe and both stomp him low. Eagles floats out of a backrack, kicks out ELP’s leg and nails him with a lariat from behind.

Ospreay gets the tag, lands the 619 on ELP followed by a moonsault to the outside on Ishimori and back inside with a springboard forearm to ELP. The crowd chants for Ospreay as he sets up for the Stormbreaker but can’t get ELP up. ELP reverses an Irish whip and pulls Ospreay into a backrack but Ospreay escapes, ELP ducks an enziguri, hits one of his own only to get caught with a Stundog Millionaire. Thy tag out to their partners, Ishimori sends Eagles to the apron, Eagles springboards over with a dropkick to the knee, sends Ishimori to the ropes who handsprings and comes back to Eagles with an enzuigiri followed by a sliding German suplex. ELP and Ishimori double Eagles with a pop up codebreaker for a two count. Eagles slides out of Ishimori’s suplex into Turbo Backpack for two, tags Ospreay who connects with a thrust kick and they cut off ELP with an assisted sliced bread followed by an Oscutter. They take Ishimori to the top rope and finish him with a double team Spanish Fly.

Ospreay and Eagles declare themselves the Birds of Prey and challenge ELP and Ishimori to a rematch for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.

Tetsuya Naito & SANADA def. Jay White & Chase Owens @ 12:59 via SANADA Skull End on Owens – **1/4
Naito and hite go to lock up, Naito fakes it out, ducks a second and hits his pose. He offers the LIJ fist bump to White but he instead tags out to Owens who asks for SANADA. They trade wristlocks, SANADA cartwheels and handstands before taking Owens over with a headlock and a stalemate. Owens offers a handshake, SANADA accepts, catches Owens’ kick, tries for the Paradise Lock, Owens escapes and tries for the lock himself. SANADA fakes being locked, pops free but before he can go after Owens, White attacks from behind. White sends Naito into the rails and they start to double SANADA. A series of chops in the corner to SANADA and a spit at Naito before White tags out to Owens. SANADA gets sent to corner, gets his boots up and lands a dropkick off the second. White cuts SANADA off before he can make the tag to Naito, SANADA reverses a suplex and gets the tag. A Naito flurry ends with White bailing and a fake out dive into an LIJ pose.

White comes in, gets his boots up, gets caught and dropping with a neckbreaker for two. After elbowing out of Gloria twice, White catches Naito charging in and throws him into the corner with a suplex followed by Bladebuster for a two count of his own. Naito fights off the Sleeper suplex, has one tornado DDT cut off but manages to find it the second time around and the two tag out. Owens ducks a moonsault float over into an attempted Skull End from SANADA but isn’t quick enough to escape the Paradise Lock. SANADA dropkicks Owens free but gets hung over the top rope and caught charging into the corner, put up on the second rope where he’s dropped in a cutter for two. White comes in to double SANADA, Naito breaks the count and sends White to the floor where they brawl. In the ring Owens and SANADA go back and forth with cradles, Owens wants the Package Driver but SANADA backdrops out and floats over into a Dragon Sleeper, spins Owens before dropping him in Skull End for the submission win.

After the match White beats down both Naito and SANADA. Gedo slides a chair in the ring, White stands on Naito’s throat, goes after SANADA with the chair, trurns his attention back to Naito where he gets caught with Destino and pins White while the crowd counts to three. Naito fakes throwing the chair out at White on the outside but instead sets it up in the middle of the ring and sits. He then walks to the ropes and invites White back inside but White is instead taken to the back by Gedo.

IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerrillas of Destiny (c) def. Aussie Open @ 12:56 via Super Powerbomb on Fletcher – **3/4

An extended dueling chant before the bell until G.O.D. have had enough and go on the attack. They each boot a member into a corner, send them at each other and Aussie Open dose-e-doe, come back at G.O.D. who do the same and gets shouldered down. Aussie Open double Loa with a senton combination for a two count and they keep him isolated in their corner. Fletcher fires forearms, hits the ropes where Jado nails him with a cane and Loa takes Fletcher down, shoves Davis off the apron and tags in Tama. Stinger Splash followed by an elbow drop to the back, Tama pulls Fletcher up and drops him back down with a dropkick, knocks Davis off the apron and tags in Loa. A double team combination on Fletcher gets another two, he fires up with forearms, hits the ropes again and is caught with a spear from Loa. After a delayed jackhammer gets him two, Loa tags in Tama who springs in with a splash, tags Loa who comes in with a slingshot senton for two.

Loa pulls Fletcher from Davis, looks for the leg drop but Fletcher moves. Tama gets the tag and cuts Fletcher off before he can make it to Davis. Fletcher catches Tama with a thrust kick, elbows Loa off the apron and backdrops Tama before getting the tag to Davis. Big charging corner lariats and chops to G.O.D. before they take the advantage, look to send him to the ropes but he cartwheels out and takes them both down with a lariat. They bail to the outside where Fletcher meets them with a tope sucida and bring Tama in, take him to the second for a pop-up cutter for two followed by a double team powerbomb for another two count. Davis goes to hit the ropes, takes a cane shot from Jado and goes on the chase where Loa tackles him to the floor and isolate Fletcher with a top rope diving headbutt from Loa followed by a top rope splash from Tama for two. Tama brings Fletcher up for the Super Powerbomb but Fletcher fights out, Davis comes in to even the advantage, sends Loa to the floor where Fletcher follows him out with a tope. Aussie Open land a pop-up cutter on Tama, Loa comes in to break it up, Germans Davis and drives Fletcher to the corner and picks up the win with a Super Powerbomb.

NEVER Openweight Championship
KENTA def. Tomohiro Ishii (c) @ 20:16 via Go2Sleep – ***1/2

The bell sounds, KENTA teases bailing but meets Ishii in the middle and they lock up. Ishii backs KENTA to the ropes, gives a clean break but eats a slap across the face for his troubles and KENTA bails to the floor. KENTA goes to slide back in but Ishii rushes in so KENTA slides back out and trips Ishii, comes back in and kicks him across the back. They trade forearms, Ishii gits the ropes and drops KENTA with a shoulder tackle. Ishii backs KENTA to the corner and delivers chops but KENTA walks right through them and fires off chops of his own. He catches Ishii rushing in, drops him throat first over the top rope and lays in a series of kicks to the chest. A back elbow scores KENTA two and the crowd erupts in “fuck you, KENTA” chants as he applies a headlock. Ishii tries fighting up from his knees but eats a series of forearms and kicks. KENTA snapmares Ishii over, drops several knees and back kicks Ishii across the head. Dueling chants for the two as KENTA wakes Ishii up with kicks across the chest.

Ishii shakes them off, makes it to his feet and lets out a roar before catching KENTA running in with a powerslam. Chops and forearms cause KENTA to crumple in the corner but Ishii picks him back up to his feet and continues and grounds KENTA with a shoulder. KENTA makes it back to his feet, fires off a few slaps across the face before the two begin trading forearms. Ishii hits the ropes, charges in and is dropped by a lariat. The crowd rallies for them to make it o their feet, KENTA lands a springboard dropkick, boots Ishii into the corner and follows with a corner dropkick before flipping off the fans. He boots Ishii’s head into the mat, picks him up and drops him with a draping DDT. Ishii fights off the attempted G2S, eats both a kick and pair of boots, gets dropped in a German but pops up and gives one of his own.

KENTA charges in with a lariat but collapses, Ishii headbutts, takes KENTA down with a lariat, KENTA pops back up and slaps Ishii across the face but gets grounded once more with a discuss forearm. Ishii brings KENTA back to his feet and hits the ropes where he’s caught with a lariat. KENTA follows with a double stomp off the top rope for two and dueling chants start up again. Ishii fights off another attempted G2S, wants a brainbuster, KENTA slides through but hangs on and they crash down awkwardly. They both sit in the middle of the ring and trade slaps across the face for an extended period of time before KENTA applies a sleeper. He wants the PK but Ishii catches the leg and eats slaps but hangs on and takes KENTA down after a forearm followed by a lariat for a two count.

G.O.D. rush the ring, Ishii eliminates the first wave and drops KENTA with the brainbuster but Tama pulls the referee out at two. G.O.D. come back in with a powerslam and Magic Killer, send the referee back inside the ring but Ishii kicks out at two to a thunderous applause. KENTA applies a sleeper, Ishii fights out, eats a series of slaps, ducks kick and hits a headbutt followed by a slap of his own. KENTA fires off his own slap that crumples Ishii to the at for another two count. He picks Ishii back up to his feet and finishes him with a G2S.

RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Zack Sabre Jr. @ 17:39 via High Fly Flow – ***3/4

Sabre break free of short knuckle locks, offers his leg to Tanahashi and they begin to roll for a stalemate. “Go Ace” chants start up as Sabre gets a stranglehold but it’s reversed into one from Tanahashi. Sabre uses his legs to break free and taunts Tanahashi with a guitar strum. “Oh Zack Sabre Jr.” chants fill the arena as they circle once more. Sabre takes the headlock, Tanahashi fights it off but Sabre takes the nose and trips Tanahashi which is countered into a toe hold from Tanahashi who sits on Sabre’s knee and continues the hold. He pulls Sabre into an Indian Deathlock, bridges backwards and poses. Sabre bridges and poses in spite of the pain but has to put his ego away and break the hold. Tanahashi takes him to the corner, Sabre floats over and cranks on the arm. He sits on Tanahashi’s back and applies an armbar before stomping the arm. A kick across the back of the head wakes Tanahashi up as he begins to flurry with strikes only to get cut off with a kick to the arm.

Tanahashi forearms out of the wristlock but gets sent to the corner and eats an uppercut. Tanahashi fires up and shoves Sabre, gets sent back into the corner for another uppercut but comes back with a dropkick to the knee. Another kick to the knee before sending Sabre to the corner for a dropkick and brings him back to his feet for a series of strikes. He hits the ropes but Sabre catches him in a Cobra Twist, Taahashi turns it into a pin attempt and the two trade two count, Sabre avoids a kick to the knee and gets a neck crank. Tanahashi catches a PK, eats a slap but keeps the hold and drops Sabre with a dragon screw before appling a Texas Cloverleaf. Sabre is able to rolls through and transition into a triangle choke before turning it into an armbar. Tanahashi pulls it back into a Texas Cloverleaf but Sabre rolls him up for two. They make it back to their feet, Sabre ducks a slingblade, fights off a Dragon suplex and catches Tanahashi in an octopus.

They roll into the ropes and Sabre has to break the hold, he makes it back up first and connects with a PK. Tanahashi fights off a Zack Driver into a Twist & Shout followed by a Slingblade for a two count. He heads to the top rope, Sabre gets his knees up and pulls Tanahashi into a triangle, turning it into an armbar once Tanahashi tries powering up. Tanahashi roll through the hold and dragon screws Sabre’s knee into the mat before getting caught in a European Clutch for two. He quickly makes it to his feet and they begin trading uppercuts. “Go Ace” build up chants as they trade slaps leading to a Tanahashi Slingblade and Dragon suplex combination for a two count. Tanahashi wastes no time climbing to the top and finishes Sabre with the High Fly Flow.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Minoru Suzuki @ 33:25 via Rainmaker – ****1/2

Okada wants to lock up, Suzuki is dead set on striking. Okada backs to the corner, Suzuki takes a swing and backs off to the middle. They knuckle lock, Okada takes the wrist and the crowd breaks into dueling chants. Suzuki reverses the hold and grounds Okada with a wristlock, pulling his arm up into an armbar. Okada rolls though and back off up to his feet but again Suzuki takes the wrist. Rolling through and sweeping the leg. Okada takes control with a toe hold that Suzuki tries to break by pulling his hair but Okada stays firm. Okada wrenches back too far and gets caught in a triangle but is able to quickly find the ropes. Suzuki eggs Okada on for a strike exchange so the two begin trading forearms before Suzuki hits the ropes, eats a boot followed by a dropkick. Okada keeps swinging, Suzuki ducks and traps him in a draping armbar over the top rope. Suzuki takes Okada to the outside, throws him into the rails and grabs a chair from under the ring.

The referee cuts Suzuki off so Suzuki charges him with the chair but before Suzuki can use it, Okada rushes in and takes Suzuki to the ramp. Suzuki takes control and sets up or the piledriver but can’t get Okada up, settles for a knee lift and runs down the ramp with a PK. He again takes the chair an fights the referee about it, slides it in the ring and sits down in the middle where he taunts Okada who’s still on the outside. Once Okada makes it back in, Suzuki is there with stomps but Okada makes it to his feet and hammers down a flurry of forearms that Suzuki laughs off. The crowd go silent to hear his returning strike and let out a groan to the sickening noise of Suzuki’s forearm. With Okada grounded, Suzuki takes him into an STF before transitioning into a reverse Indian Deathlock and pulls back on the neck of Okada. After being forced to release the hold, Suzuki fires off a series of kicks to the chest of Okada that fires Okada back up to his feet.

Okada comes back with forearms and the two begin exchanging until Suzuki sends him to the corner, eats a boot, misses one of his own and is taken down with a back elbow. Continuing the flurry, Okada lands a DDT that gets him two but Suzuki quickly rolls to the outside. Not being phased, Okada follows him out with a plancha and Okada chants break out. He sends Suzuki back inside and waits for him to make it to his feet before trying the reverse neckbreaker. Suzuki escapes the hold, takes Okada down and connects with a PK for two. Ducking a forearm and transitioning it into an armbar, Suzuki is forced to let go of the hold but continues with kicks to the chest. He brings Okada to his feet and takes the wrist, kicks the arm and invites an exchange. Two forearms from Okada turn to more kicks to his arm as Suzuki ground him and lands a running boot for two. Okada backdrops out of the piledriver and charges in with an uppercut as the crowd rallies for them to make it to their feet.

A huge John Woo dropkick sends Suzuki into the corner, Okada hoists him to his shoulders and drops Suzuki with Heavy Rain for two. Scoop slam, top rope elbow drop and Rainmaker pose as Okada smiles down on Suzuki. Glaring back at Okada, Suzuki makes it to his feet and slaps Okada across the face with his arm stretched out. The two have a heated forearm exchange results in Suzuki putting his arms behind his back and inviting Okada’s best shot. Suzuki takes the shots, stays on his feet and Okada drops his arms to offer Suzuki the same chance. Okada is rocked by the forearms, Suzuki brings him to his knees and forearms Okada on the back of the head. Suzuki wants the piledriver but Okada fights it off and turns it into a reverse neckbreaker. “This is awesome” chants break out as both men regroup on the mat. They trade forearms while on their knees, fighting up to their feet and continuing the exchange, Suzuki puts an end to the sportsmanship with a flurry of headbutts.

He hits the dropkick and gets caught with a dropkick from Okada who then takes a page out of Suzuki’s book by applying the sleeper. Suzuki fights up to his feet and the crowd rallies. Okada lets go, lays in more forearms to the groggy Suzuki, hits the ropes and is caught with a Suzuki dropkick. Suzuki now applies the sleeper, Okada grabs the ropes, Suzuki kicks his arm out and reapplies the hold, taking Okada over and counting him in the hold. Big dueling chants from the crowd as Suzuki lifts Okada to his feet while still keeping the sleeper applied. The referee does the arm drop on Okada who brings it up at three and slides out of the attempted piledriver position to land a Rainmaker, follows with a second and pulls Suzuki up for the traditional style but Suzuki elbow free and has Okada eat a slap on the discuss Rainmaker.

Suzuki begins peppering Okada with strikes and slaps across the face, not letting Okada fall to the mat until he decides and them pulls him back up into the sleeper. With Okada positioned for the piledriver, he fights out, takes Suzuki’s leg and eats a forearm, slap, and headbutt but hangs onto the leg, spins Suzuki around and lads a dropkick to the back. He sends Suzuki to the ropes, connects with another dropkick, wants the Rainmaker but eats a slap. Okada escapes another piledriver attempt, catches Suzuki in the spinning tombstone, lets out a shriek and finishes him with the Rainmaker.

After Okada’s speech, SANADA makes his way out to tell the crowd the next time they see him he’ll be the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

Thoughts
A jam packed show punctuated by yet another Okada/Suzuki classic. This was prime time Suzuki all the way as he hammed it up in a big way with memorable taunts and stomach-turning strikes. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand the entire way through like a true top tier legend. Who knows when he’ll finally decide to hang it up but this will be amongst his most legendary performances.

Outside of the main event, Sabre and Tanahashi added another great match to their series. These two have that special chemistry where even when you grow tired of the match on paper, there’s no question they’ll end up hooking you once the bell rings. It was great to see KENTA embrace being a Grade A prick to Ishii. They had plenty of awesome exchanges back and forth. The Bullet Club stuff can go, the heat is already there for the guy.

We saw more from White and Naito as they both tried to out-smart the other. It’s a rivalry that feels like a placeholder and ultimately feels more like it has go-away heat than anything else. Speaking of go-away heat, El Phantasmo looks to be cemented in the role as junior ace of Bullet Club. Poor Ishimori only had the role for a year. Luckily he got a reign and we’ll always have that Dragon Lee match.

SANADA coming out to challenge Okada next was a foregone conclusion after his G1 victory. They’ve really been hammering home this rivalry all year with this going to be their fourth match in eight months. If the NJPW template wasn’t so set in stone to where we know without a doubt Okada has no chance of losing until Wrestle Kingdom, this would be a fine match. As it stands, SANADA taking yet another loss is uninteresting. I’m expecting a big angle coming out of that match because it doesn’t make sense to not have any consequences if SANADA loses again.

Overall we can say the main event was an unforgettable classic. Amazing performances aided by a fantastic atmosphere. The angles coming out of the show is where takes will vary. Personally, there’s very little that’s grabbing my attention right now and a whole lot that’s pushing me away.

Recommended Matches
Okada vs Suzuki
Sabre vs Tanahashi
Ishii vs KENTA

Along with being FightBoothPW's editor for NJPW, Robert McCauley also covers show reviews for the key promotions across Japan.

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