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NJPW ‘Southern Showdown in Melbourne’ (6.29.19) Results & Review

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New Japan Pro-Wrestling comes to Festival Hall in Melbourne, Australia for the first of two nights of Southern Showdown. Three titles are on the line tonight as El Phantasmo defends the RPW Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship against Rocky Romero, the Guerrillas of Destiny defend the IWGP Tag Team Championships against the team of Juice Robinson and Mikey Nicholls and Will Ospreay defends the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against against Robbie Eagles. Let’s get started!

Toa Henare, Shota Umino & Nick Bury def. Mark Tui, Michael Richards & Andrew Villalobos @ 10:12 via Toa Bottom – **1/4
Ren Narita was originally scheduled to compete but was unable to make the fight due to visa issues. In his place was local favorite, Nick Bury. Their opponents are a team brought from Bad Luck Fale’s dojo. Umino and Villalobos started off with a nice mat wrestling exchange but quickly tagged out to Tui and Bury. Fale’s dojo boys used their power to isolate Bury until he flipped out of a backdrop and hit an enziguri. Umino received the hot tag, hit a vertical suplex and applied a Boston Crab but Richards made it to the ropes.

The two had a forearm exchange before Richards leveled Umino via a nice and meaty lariat and tagged in both Henare and Villalobos. The closing stretch had a nice exchange between the two, Villalobos got in a butterfly suplex, Henare a lariat and spear but Villalobos kicked out. They went for a forearms exchange until Henare cut it off with a headbutt and finished Villalobos with Toa Bottom. A solid opener, everyone looked fine but this was a Villalobos highlight as he showcased several sides of his game.

Slex def. Aaron Solow @ 9:08 via Slexecution – **3/4
Another hometown favorite in Slex makes his appearance to the delight of the crowd. They start by trading waistlocks but it quickly breaks down with dueling dropkicks and a rope-assisted backbreaker from Slex. He follows Solow out with a tope suicida and looks for a suplexplex but Solow fights him off. Slex tries again for the suplex, Solow denies it again, slides through and catches Slex with a draping neckbreaker for a two count. Slex blocks a vertical suplex and connects with an enziguri followed by a springboard satellite DDT for his own near fall. They trade forearms, Slex ducks a lariat and pulls Solow into a torture rack and drops him with a blue thunder bomb.

Slex wants a springboard enziguri but Solow cuts it off with a thrust kick and a running knee for two. Solow climbs to the top but Slex meets him up there and drops Solow with a suplex. He gets a two count and looks to put his sunglasses on but Solow rolls him up and delivers a stomp, heads back to the top where he connects with another stomp but still only receives a two count. Slex ducks a lariat, hits a springboard enziguri and finishes the match after a roundhouse enziguri. Uneven crowd response for the match. Solow failed to receive consistent heat but there were several nifty moments sprinkled throughout.

Toru Yano & YOH def. Gino Gambino & Taiji Ishimori @ 9:42 via Yano Schoolboy on Gino – **
Like the opener, a member of New Japan was unable to make the flight. This time it was SHO, so the match was turned into a traditional tag. The crowd heavily favors Yano so Gino bails to start. He comes in and backs Yano to the ropes, gives a clean break but gets slapped over the top of his head. Gino shoulders Yano down and the crowd erupts into “fuck you, Gino” chants. Both he and Ishimori pick apart Yano until Yano is able to get a hold of Ishimori’s hair and pull him down to even the score. YOH gets the hot tag, hits both a dragon screw and bridging vertical suplex for a two count.

Ishimori swings YOH’s legs over the ropes and comes in with a draping German suplex, YOH ducks a lariat and connects with a forearm but Ishimori avoids his flatliner and lands a handspring enziguri. Yano and Gino are tagged in and the two battle with turnbuckle pads. Ishimori connects with double knees in the corner followed by a corner splash by Gino, a sitout senton from Ishimori and another Gino splash but YOH breaks the count. Yano pulls the referee, Gino blocks the low blow but rushes into the corner and comes up empty, instead hitting the exposed buckle. Yano again grabs the referee, low blows Gino, YOH follows up with a thrust kick and Yano rolls Gino up for the win. Clunky goofball match. Good crowd environment but very little substance to sink your teeth into.

Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI def. Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens @ 9:49 via Ishii Brainbuster on Owens – **1/2
Bullet Club go on the attack before the bell. Y-H is able to fight them off for a moment but they quickly come back to isolate him in the middle of the ring. Y-H finally gains separation with a kick and brings in Ishii who stares a hole into Owens as he tries his best to bring Ishii down with forearms. The crowd erupts in “you fucked up” chants as Ishii shoulders Owens to the mat and follows up with a series of chops. Yujiro tries tying Ishii up in the ropes but Ishii fight him off and drops Owens with a German suplex.

Owens escapes a brainbuster and sweeps Ishii into the corner but Ishii shrugs off his boots and the two begin trading forearms. Yujiro cuts Ishii off with a fisherman’s buster followed by a knee from Owens but Y-H breaks the count. Owens flurries with a snap dragon suplex, V-Trigger and Jewel Heist. He looks for the package piledriver but again Y-H is there to break it up. Owens drops Y-H with Jewel Heist, tries for the package piledriver on Ishii again but Ishii fights it off, connects with a lariat and finishes Owens with a brainbuster. Three of the less exciting wrestlers to watch and Ishii. The match came alive every time Ishii was in the ring but was otherwise dead.

RPW Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship
El Phantasmo (c) def. Rocky Romero @ 18:45 via CR II – NR

Unfortunately the stream cut off with three minutes left in the match. To this point in the show there’s no doubt these two were having the match of the night.

IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerrillas of Destiny (c) def. Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls @ 14:17 via Tama Schoolboy on Nicholls – **1/4

The match starts with the crowd firmly on the side of G.O.D. Loa and Nicholls lock up and battle for position, begin laying in shoulder tackles until the match breaks out to the floor. All four are brawling outside, Juice wants to drop Tama on the ramp with a piledriver but Tama backdrops his way out and rushes to help Loa double team Nicholls while they had the advantage. The crowd breaks into another G.O.D. chant ass they both take turns with slingshot senton. Nicholls finally fires up, lands a forearm followed by a DDT and tags Juice. Both members of G.O.D. eat a series of punches from Juice. He sets up for Pulp Friction but Tama sends him off and Jado is there with the cane and the crowd responds with “fuck you, Jado” chants.

They isolate Juice until he manages to avid a stinger splash, flips out of a double backdrop ad gets the tag to Nicholls who connects with a spinebuster followed by a sliding lariat for a two count. Juice and Nicholls hit a series of double team lariats, a cannonball and a DDT + slam combination. Jado climbs the apron, Juice punches him off, turns around and eats a Gun Stun. Nicholls blocks a Gun Stun, Tama escapes a Mikey Bomb, shoves Nicholls into the referee and rolls him into a schoolboy for the win. The match started slow with a boring lock up exchange and a brawl outside but it picked up around the end. Weird that the finish was via roll up. Makes you think this feud isn’t over.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay (c) def. Robbie Eagles @ 34:04 via Stormbreaker – ****1/4

ELP comes out to corner Eagles for the match. Eagles signals for him to go backstage but ELP remains at ringside. The crowd is heavly in favor of Ospreay who backs Eagles to the corer and refuses the clen break but Eagles ducks the strikes and blocks a Super Oscutter for a stalemate. Eagles tells Ospreay to hit the ropes but Ospreay instead chops him to the mat as the crowd erupts into “fuck you, Ospreay” chants. They hit the ropes, ducks each other’s attack until Eagles lands a dropkick, Ospreay bails and Eagles follows him out with a dive. Eagles brings Ospreay back in, snapmares and dropkicks Ospreay to the face before heading to the top rope. Ospreay chops Eagles off the top, causing Eagles to fall to the floor, Ospreay follows him out and hits a springboard forearms off the rails.

ELP walks towards the apron but thinks better of interfering. Ospreay hook kicks Eagles aroud the post and lands a dropkick from the floor to the apron. ELP makes his way back to the apron and encourges Eagles to keep fighting. Ospreay scoop slams and knee drops Eagles for two before jaw joking with the crowd who are rallying behind their hometown hero. Eagles comes back by sliding under a lariat and landing a satelite DDT followed by a flurry of kicks. Ospreay avoids further strikes, sweeps the legs and sets up for another running dropkick to the apron but Eagles hops over and lands a stomp followed by driving Ospreay’s knees into the post and a springboard dropkick to the knee. Eagles stays on the attack with a sliding lariat to the back of the head folowed by the springboard variety for a two count.

Eagles stomps on the back of Ospreay’s knee and goes to send him to the corner but Ospreay collapses. Eagles tries again and this time Ospreay fires up, landing a springboard enziguri and continues his flury with a top rope 619 and springboard forearm. Ospreay wants the wallflip enziguri but his knee buckles. He tries for the Stormbreaker, Eagles armdrags out and tries for the Ron Miller Special but Ospreay boots him off. Ospreay gets Eagles on the top rope, Eagles sends him off but Ospreay comes right back with an overhead kick that locks Eagles into a tree of woe. They have a slap exchange while Eagles is tied up and Eagles comes out on top so while Eagles is still stuck, Ospreay unloads with stomps to the face. Ospreay again positions Eagles on top and wants a posion rana but Eagles fights him off to the apron, Ospreay is quick to come back, landing a dropkick that sends Eagles off the top and to the floor. Ospreay isn’t done there, he climbs to the top where he hits a corkscrew moonsault on the floor and seems content with a count out but Eagles makes it in at 19.

Ospreay is right there to follows with a springboard dropkick and reverse bloody sunday for two. Eagles cuts off the Super Oscutter with sliced bread and the two begin trading forearms back to their feet. Eagles grabs a boot, wants the Turbo Backpack but Ospreay flips through and sets up for a Liger Bomb that Eagles tries turning into a rana but Ospreay puts the brakes on and drops Eagles face first. Ospreay then lifts Eagles back into position for a Liger Bomb and connects but only gets two. He climbs to the top, ELP hops to the apron and cuts him off. Eagles doesn’t see the interference and meets Ospreay up top where he lands a hurricanrana but misses the follow up 450. Ospreay puts Eagles on his shoulders and climbs to the second rope where he drop him with an Iconoclasm for another two count.

ELP slides a chair into the ring, again Eagles doesn’t see but distracts Ospreay. Eagles goes to leg sweep Ospreay through the ropes with a dive and does so but lands on ELP when shooting through the ropes. Ospreay is caught in the ropes, Eagles pulls him out and connects with a Turbo Backpack for two and immediately into the Ron Miller Special. Ospreay manages to get the ropes, sends Eagles to the apron, Eagles looks for a springboard which Ospreay catches with a cutter followed by an Oscutter but ELP pulls the referee out at two and jumps on Ospreay. Eagles pulls ELP away, Ospreay plants ELP with a hook kick and Ospreay and Eagles continue with a forearm exchange. Eagles grounds Ospreay, stomps him into the corner and looks for the Turbo Backpack but Ospreay turns it into a snap dragon suplex and Essex Destroyer for two.

Eagles slides out of one Stormbreaker, eats a hook kick, gets caught in position for Stormbreaker again but turns it into a frankensteiner pin for a near fall. He charges to the corner, Ospreay sends him over but Eagles flips through and out of midair, drops Ospreay with a DDT for yet another two count. Eagles lands the 450 to the knee but Ospreays cradles through the Ron Miller Special, wants the Liger Bomb, Eagles escapes but Ospreay responds with a Spanish Fly and gets two. He follows with a Shooting Star Press off the top but that only gets him one. He quickly continues with Hidden Blade and finishes Eagles with Stormbreaker.

After the match Ospreay offers his hand to Eagles but ELP gets between them. Eagles lays ELP out and shakes Ospreay’s hand. This was an absolutely insane match. They came in with super high expectations and managed to meet them if not surpassing them for some. Incredible chemistry between these two, they’re so in sync with one another and Eagles’ wacky way he goes about his offense is so creative and fun. We’ll see the true classic once they get rid of the ELP drama. The drama worked well, it’s keeping in line with the story but hopefully we’re closing in on the end.

Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Jay White & Bad Luck Fale @ 19:56 via Okada Rainmaker on Fale – **3/4
The crowd go big for Okada, arguably the pop of the night. He start the match off with Fale, sweeping the leg and landing a basement dropkick. Fale quickly shoulders Okada down and they tag out. White bails to a chorus of boos, makes his way in and Tanahashi dominates him in various holds until White pulls the referee between them to gain seperation. White dumps Tanahashi over the top and Fale rushes Okada on the apron causing a brawl outside. They isolate Tanahashi who tries a sunset flip on Fale but gets say on instead and then tries landing a dragon screw on White but White elbows free, sweeps the leg and drives Tanahashi’s knee to the mat.

Fale then stands on Tanahashi but Tanahashi avoids a splash and dropkicks Fale’s knee before making the tag to Okada who ducks multiple lariats and lands a DDT. Okada starts the Aussie chant before getting Fale up for a scoop slam and wants the elbow drop off the top but Gedo is there for the distraction and Fale takes advantage. White and Tanahashi make their way back in and Tanahashi connects with a dragon screw into the mat and applies the Texas Cloverleaf. White boots him off and avoids a Slingblade, drops Tanahashi with a flatliner + German suplex combination followed by Bladebuster and urange for a two count.

Tanahashi escapes Bladerunner twice, hits Twist & Shout, both tag out and Okada immediately fires off a John Woo on Fale but can’t scoop slam. Fale shoulders and hits two splashes, comes up empty on a Grenade, White dragon screws Tanahashi, Okada slides out of Bad Luck Fall and hits a dropkick. White rushes in, Tanahashi cuts him off with a slingblade and Okada and Tanahashi team up to suplex Fale. Tanahashi lands a plancha on both White and Gedo, Okada gets the elbow drop on Fale, sets up for the Rainmaker, Fale blocks it, Okada blocks the Grenade and hits the discuss Rainmaker followed by the traditional Rainmaker for the win. Okada takes the mic and sends everyone home happy The crowd chants “best in the world” and Okada agrees with them to end the show.

I think coming into the show everyone expected this to be a one match show. There were hopes that others would deliver but everyone knew what the highlight match was going to be. The match between ELP and Romero was turning into something good but the feed cut out so I’m unable to accurately give a rating as it stands right now. Both Slex and Villalobos were the standouts from the Australian side. Both guys looked really good. As expected, Ospreay and Eagles tore it down. Those two have a very special chemistry together. The ELP interference isn’t going to make anyone happy but it was largely kept to a minimum considering how long the match went and how it finished. Very clear it’s the match of the night and without the shenanigans it’ll be even better down the line.

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

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