Good morning, and we are back!
It’s January 4th, and I have stayed away from watching wrestling for a couple of weeks in anticipation of this event. Today, in Tokyo Hall, it’s the departing Omega defending belt against Tanahashi! It’s Jericho defending IC belt against Naito! And finally in a non-title feud, it will be Okada vs Jay White! Let’s get to it!
1. NEVER Openweight 6-Man #1 Contender Gauntlet Match
A: David Finlay, Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata vs Marty Scrull, Adam Page & David Finlay (with Chase Owens and one of Yujiro’s valets). A few high spots in the beginning. Chase holds up Finlay on the apron, so Page can kick him, but Finlay escapes, Page nails Chase, Yujiro comes over, gets shoved by Page and Finlay rolls up Yujiro.
B. David Finlay, Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata vs Hirooki Goto & Best Friends
Better than the first half, Finlay rolled out of Chuckie T’s moonsault and rolled him up.
Nagata wearily wipes his face, because, coming next, it’s
C. David Finlay, Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad
Finlay tried to pin Archer, but Archer kicked out, sending Dave into a big boot by Smith and the KES pinned him with a Killer Bomb.
D. Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad vs Great Bash Heel & Ryusuke Taguchi
Lots of really intense action. Makabe & KES shoulderblocked each other, and during the stand off, Yano low blowed both Archer and Smith and won with a roll-up.
2. NEVER Openweight Championship Match:
Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay
A ton of incredible spots in this match, and Ospreay even looked the stiffest I ever saw him. There was the rolling suicide dive the kick into moonsaulting to the outside Ibushi, and that’s just two that immediately come to the head. For the finish, Ospreay lariated Ibushi and tried to execute Stormbreaker in his second attempt of the match. Ibushi reversed, but Ospreay reversed back. Ibushi flipped over into a reverse neckbreaker position and then a tombstone position, from which he hit a double underhook driver (tombstone with both legs tucked under arms). He almost pinned Ospreay. Will kicked out and Kota went for V-Trigger, but Ospreay got around him and nailed an enziguri. As Ibushi was sitting after the kick, Ibushi pointed Omega-style at the back of his head and elbowed him there so hard it sounded like he was cracking his skull opened. Ospreay then picked up the knocked out Ibushi for a Stormbreaker, which he finally executed for the win. Ibushi was stretchered out afterwards, with a concussion either happening or sold.
Very very good. I would rank it around 4 and a ¼ –4 and a ½. Ospreay often gets crap for being the unsound aerialist, even though he probably has the best or near-best psychology among the high-flyers.
3. Super Junior Tag Team Championship Match
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado vs Shingo Takagi & Bushi vs Roppongi 3K (with Rocky Romero)
Way too much of a merry-go-round, by which I mean that somebody new is jumping in every few seconds, to build up anything or look good. Takagi pinned SHO with the Gory Facebuster, two lariats and Blood Fall. Kanemaru and YOH nearly come to blows afterwards.
4. Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship Match
Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr (with Taka Michinoku)
My kind of match, but surprisingly, only went 12 minutes and didn’t really develop much. In the end Zack made Ishii tap to a move, apparently called, and I am not kidding: “Hurrah! Another year, surely this one will be better than the last; the inexorable march of progress will lead us all to happiness!” It was a very complex combination, involving pulling head and arms back, while trapping the legs….or was it head forward?
5. New Japan Tag Team Championship Match:
Guerillas of Destiny (with Bad Luck Fale & Jado) vs EVIL & Sanada vs Young Bucks
Great match. In one fantastic moment, Sanada managed to dive, plancha, and jump dodge his way to take out each of his opponent within about 20 seconds, each set-up logically and each designed to take eliminate a wrestler, not to show off recklessness. Not sure I could do the finish justice. Let’s see, Jado got in the ring with his kendo stick, but Fale got in and said something to stop him, but as he turned around, Young Bucks Superkick Partied Jado. Fale double clotheslined the Jacksons over the top rope, but got clotheslined out by EVIL next. As EVIL celebrated, Tanga Loa attacked. EVIL reversed and power bombed him up to do a Magic Killer with Sanada, but Tama Tonga speared Sanada, allowing Loa to suplex EVIL. G.o.D. set up a Superbomb, but Nick hurricanranaed Tama off the top rope. They double Superkicked Sanada and went for their leaping spike piledriver, but Tonga speared Nick, only to get speared by EVIL. The Ingobernables Killer Magic’ed Matt and Sanada hit the moonsault for the win. Very very good, 4 ½.
6. New Japan United States Championship Match:
Cody (with Brandi Rhodes) vs Juice Robinson
Robinson comes out clean-shaven, but with dreadlocks. Never thought he could look dumber, but he proved me wrong. Brandi interfered at least three times early on, eventually spearing distracted Juice and ground and pounding him. At this point she was told to leave ringside. Juice eventually pinned Cody with two Pulp Frictions. Looks like AEW and New Japan won’t be on ROH-New Japan level of friendship, because this looked very … conclusive. But not a squash by any means.
7. New Japan Junior Heavyweight Title
Kushida vs Taiji Ishimori
In a hilarious spot, a kid dressed as half-Kushida half-Marty McFly came out instead of Kushida and waved intensely, to indicate either the match wasn’t happening or that something was wrong. Taguchi then came out dressed as Doc Brown, raised his antenna, pyro went off, and Kushida stood there in front off the kid. I have spoken out about how stupid most of Taguchi’s stuff is, but this was exactly the kind of good vibe cute thing that is missing a lot in wrestling today. Ishimori hit Kushida with a running double knee and then a brainbuster into a gutbuster for the pin.
8. Kazuchika Okada vs Jay White (with Gedo)
The crowd was on fire for Okada when the match was about to start. As far as the match itself? Oh my! Several times fairly early on this match built to a finish, only for the wrestler on defense to escape it. In the end, after Okada’s lariat, there was a spot with about a dozen reversals, from Rainmaker to Blade Runner to Tombstone by Okada to two more reversals to Rainmaker to Blade Runner to Rainmaker, and finally, eventually, Jay White won with Blade Runner. I am guessing he will challenge for the belt shortly. 4 ½-4 ¾
9. New Japan Intercontinental Championship Match
Chris Jericho vs Tetsuya Naito in a no-DQ match
The match went about as you expected. Naito was winning, until Jericho started using a Kendo Stick, and after that it was a hard time for Naito, until he briefly turned things around. There was also a spot where Jericho american-style taunted the crowd, and boy, did it pop! Jericho eventually recovered and tried to put about 8 chairs in the ring. This was after Walls of Jericho and Naito twice kicking out of Codebreaker. Eventually Chris grabbed his belt and ran at Naito with it, but Naito picked him up for a snake eyes into the corner. He then hit Destino, but Jericho kicked out. Naito then looked at the fallen belt and made his “Open Your Eyes” sign. He grabbed the belt and ran across the ring, nailing Jericho with the belt at the end. Then there was another Destino and a 3 count. I wonder if Naito or White will fight for the belt in MSG? 4 ¾.
10. New Japan World Heavyweight Championship Match
Kenny Omega (with Young Bucks) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Not sure what was going on, but the beginning was lackluster and almost all Omega. Not sure if Tanahashi was hurt, or an example of Omega not giving his opponent the same amount of offense. Business, however, really picked up towards the end. Tanahashi hit two High Fly Flows, but Okada kicked out and nailed a Dragon Superplex. He delivered a V-trigger, and went for the One-Winged Angel, but Tanahashi countered it. Then it was the Sling Blade by Tanahashi and one more High Fly Flow for the pin. 4 ½ again. The finish I summed up is only a fraction of what went on towards the end.