New Japan returned to Sumo Hall for a show which highlights key members of the company’s continued western expansion. Three of the best British wrestlers of the modern era and the hottest active wrestlers in the United States combined to make up the top three matches tonight. Kazuchika Okada looks to extend his reign and tie Tanahashi’s defense record. The Golden Lovers team together to take on Cody and Hangman Page as a preview of next weekend’s main events at Supercard of Honor. Let’s see what all took place!
The Young Bucks def. Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens @ 9:23 via Matt Sharpshooter on Owens – **
Above average opener thanks to the always motivated Young Bucks. Matt is still selling his back, constantly grabbing at it the entire match. He gritted through the pain to apply the Sharpshooter for the win. Really good opener as the Bucks rebound after their loss to the Golden Lovers last weekend.
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. Takashi Iizuka & Taichi @ 7:43 via Yano Schoolboy on Iizuka – *3/4
As good as you could hope for in a match involving Iizuka. He and Taichi made a surprisingly fun team tonight. They’re both so grimy and awful with their underhanded tricks. Ishii and Yano fired back with tricks of their own to pick up the win. I really enjoyed Taichi and Iizuka’s duel interest. Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure but it’s a lot of fun.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Fale, Tama & Tanga (c) def. Makabe, Elgin & Taguchi @ 11:20 via Tama Gun Stun on Taguchi – *3/4
Really nice to have Tama back, he and Taguchi were the bright spots here. Both play off each other really well, I always fall for their comedy spots. There wasn’t much else of note other than that but it was nice to see Tama return, congrats to the birth of his newborn son.
Tanahashi, Juice & Finlay def. Goto, White & Y-H @ 9:18 via Tanahashi High Fly Flow on Y-H – **
The chemistry between White and Finlay has never been better. They stole the main focus of the match with multiple impressive counters out of the other’s signature moves. They really got me looking forward to their future title match. Tanahashi came in and made relative easy work of Y-H, scoring the win that played a factor later in the show.
Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad def. Naito, EVIL & SANADA @ 11:28 via Killer Bomb on EVIL – **1/2
It’s offival, Suzuki finally has Naito’s attention. The feud between the two has increased over the last couple of weeks with Naito side-stepping Suzuki and showing no interest in his title. Although he still hasn’t expressed interest in the title, Naito seems pleased with himself that he’s gotten under Suzuki’s skin. He told Suzuki if he wants a match all he has to do is ask. The interactions between these two was the highlight of the match. K.E.S. scored a pin over the tag champs, likely putting them first in line to challenge for the titles.
Dates for this year’s G1 Climax were announced. The tournament will take place from 7/14-8/12.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Kanemaru & Desperado (c) def. Roppongi 3K & Hiromu & BUSHI @ 12:46 via Desperado Pinche Loco on SHO – *1/2
The most underwhelming match of the night and it wasn’t even close. 3K were receiving very little reaction from the crowd, especially YOH, who was left desperately seeking a comeback chant. There was a brief moments towards the finish where they got vocal when it seemed like Hiromu was about to win but overall this was flat. A really big disappointment in terms of reaction from a crowd who was otherwise very vocal.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay (c) def. Marty Scurll @ 30:45 via OsCutter – ****1/2
Quite possibly my favorite match so far this year. When commentary says that Ospreay is taking years off his career wrestling this style, they are absolutely correct. He very nearly had his life ended during this match. Scurll and Ospreay attempted a Standing One-Man Spanish Fly from the apron to the floor. On the rotation, Ospreay caught his head on the apron, slicing the top of his head open very deep. This happened around seventeen minutes into the match and the doctors came out to check on Ospreay but he refused their attention and wrestled another thirteen minutes with a very serious gash on his head. This added so much unintended drama and elevated the match to a whole different level. You don’t want to see these things happen but how can you not come out of this match with a whole new respect for Ospreay? This man is shortening his career at an alarming rate for our entertainment. The chemistry between Scurll and Ospreay is very crisp, you can see the trust they have in one another. The crowd rallied behind both with dueling chants and Ospreay came out feeling like an absolute legend. Post-match he challenged KUSHIDA, saying he wants to prove his one win over him isn’t a fluke. My God, Ospreay is just incredible. Both this match and the one against Hiromu in February sit inside my top three favorite matches so far this year.
Cody & Hangman Page def. Golden Lovers @ 23:52 via Cody Schoolboy on Ibushi – ***1/2
Thanks to the Golden Lovers reuniting, tag team wrestling is once again fun in New Japan. Each match since their reunion has been a breath of fresh air for a company who has struggled the last several years to have a fun tag team the crowds came about. Another really great match. The Bucks came out at one point to confront Cody but decided against it and instead walked to the back. The tag team moves between the Golden Lovers were much smoother than last weekend, as they seem to gain their mojo back each match. For the second match is a row, someone got busted open, this time Cody. Once again, this added more intensity, not that it was needed. A lot of insane moments as both teams went for the kill throughout the match. In the end, Cody got a cheap win by rolling up Ibushi and holding the tights. Post-match, Cody and Page went to attack Ibushi with a chair but were stopped by Omega, who cleared the ring.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Zack Sabre Jr. @ 34:59 via Rainmaker – ****1/4
The reign continues! Okada has now tied Tanahashi’s record of defenses within a single reign but now must physically defeat Tanahashi in order to surpass the record. Like many others, I sometimes find myself bored with Okada’s reign, but when their is a fresh match likes this, who can complain? New Japan did a fantastic job building up Sabre as a credible threat to end the reign. I found myself biting on several false finishes. Sabre had the match in his grasp but Okada goated him into a striking battle and it was downhill from there. Several extremely innovative counters to Okada’s signature spots. I never found myself bored by this match, I was in constant amazement on what I was seeing. Fresh matches like these will keep people from getting down on this ever increasing reign. Hopefully this isn’t the end for Sabre. I’d like to see him be the one to defeat Goto for the NEVER title in the near future. Amazing match, hell of a main event to what was a really strong show.
The top three matches were all amazing in their own ways and should all be watched immediately. Other than the flat junior tag match, I felt everything hit the right notes tonight. The nasty botch which split open Ospreay’s head will stick in my mind for a really long time. How he was able to continue to perform at his usual high level without any missteps is incredible. That was my match of the night but each of the top three were great enough that I can see people making a case of any of them being their favorites tonight. Hell of a show from New Japan.
Ospreay vs Scurll
Okada vs Sabre
Cody & Page vs Golden Lovers
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