While the Undercard action on this show was fun, let’s get into the really good stuff. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima in tag team action, the return of Roppongi 3K, and most importantly: a defense of the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship as Kota Ibushi takes on Will Ospreay. Let’s waste no time and get right into all this action!
Tag Team Match – Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale & Jay White)
Up first is a tag team match between old rivals in Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima, as they take on BULLET CLUB leader Jay White and Bad Luck Fale. White is gunning for a shot at the NEVER Openweight Championship, but oddly didn’t get the match on a big show like tonight, which won’t sit well with The Switchblade.
Tanahashi grabbed an early headlock on White, and held on tight as White tried to send him off the ropes. Both men grabbed handfuls of hair, before Tanahashi was taken into the corner for some strikes. Tanahashi took control briefly before tagging Kojima.
Kojima rained down the machine gun chops before setting up the elbow drop, only to be foiled by Gedo at ringside before White threw him down. White was focused on Tanahashi on the outside, but Fale kept the pressure on Kojima in the ring. Fale stomped on the back of Kojima, before White came in to hit some weak machine gun chops. Kojima hit Fale with a DDT before White took the Koji-Cutter.
Tanahashi got the tag, and hit the rolling senton out of the corner. He’d grapple with White but get hit with the Sleeper Suplex. White followed up with Bladebuster, before working on the knee of Tanahashi to set up the Cloverleaf. Tanahashi fought free and hit the Dragon Screw, before rolling to the corner to tag Kojima. White took Kojima out first, before tagging Fale.
Fale nailed a lariat and set up Bad Luck Fall, but Kojima made the save. Tanahashi took a slingblade, Fale took a Cozy Lariat, and Tanahashi closed this one with a High Fly Flow! After the bell, Tanahashi applied the Cloverleaf on White to send a message, and White tapped out.
A classic babyface vs. heel tag team contest, complete with a satisfying ending stretch. Tanahashi is showing some of his dark side with White, but it’s hard to argue he doesn’t deserve it. Match Rating: 3.25/5 (*** 1/4)
After the match, Tanahashi gave White what he wanted and accepted the challenge. But only because he say White tap out, to the Texas Cloverleaf… or the JTO! (Jay White Tap Out)
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match – Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
It has been quite some time since SHO & YOH teamed up, due to YOH injuring his knee in last year’s New Japan Cup. However, he’s back and looking to claim another IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship with his partner, as they take on El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru tonight.
YOH would start with Desperado, and they’d start grappling. Desperado ended up in a hammerlock, but was able to trip him down and take the headlock. YOH slipped out, and hit the ropes for a flying forearm before SHO slipped in for a double team. SHO got a proper tag in, and dropped Desperado with a scoop slam.
Quick tags from Roppongi 3K led to Desperado getting YOH in the corner, and one kick to that previously injured knee dropped him. Desperado applied Numero Dos, and if it wasn’t for SHO breaking the hold up, this one would have been over. YOH pulled himself to a tag, and SHO exploded into the ring to take out Desperado with some kicks.
Desperado came back with a spinebuster attempt, before SHO got tripped up by Kanemaru and thrown into the barricade. Few can out brawl Suzuki-Gun on the outside, and Roppongi 3K saw this tonight. Back in the ring, Kanemura hit a suplex for a two count, before tagging Desperado. SHO was isolated for a while, but got the tag to YOH before he’d be put down.
YOH hit a double dropkick on the champs before focusing on Kanemaru, but an awkward landing off a suplex and a kick to the back of the knee slowed him right down. A calculated attack on the knee ended with a Figure Four Leg Lock, and SHO couldn’t make the save. YOH kept fighting to the ropes, and managed to make it without tapping out.
Kanemaru scooped up YOH to slam him and hit a no look moonsault for a two count. Deep Impact was set up next, and YOH was dropped on his head. SHO made a last second save, but Desperado pulled him back to the outside to beat him down. YOH got a near fall off a cradle pin, before Kanemaru went back to the knee.
Kanemaru was taken out with a Pele Kick, before Desperado ran in with a spear. SHO tried to make the save, but took a spinebuster. Kanemaru went back to the knee, but YOH used the good knee for a double strike with SHO before a one legged dropkick. Roppongi 3K set up their finisher, but Desperado worked to prevent it. Desperado was hit with that 3K, leaving Kanemaru alone against Roppongi 3K. They’d hit Poetry in Motion, before Strong X was set up.
Kanemaru countered, leaving YOH stranded on the top rope for a superplex. Deep Impact was set up once again, but YOH countered with a superkick. SHO hit the lariat, and set up Strong X again. The Shock Arrow & Foot Stomp combo got two, because Desperado made the save. Kanemaru was out, and YOH picked him up for a Twisting Double Arm DDT for the win! New champions!
This was a great Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Match, showing that Roppongi 3K are back to form in their first match back. YOH & Kanemaru dominated this match, and the work on the leg of YOH was wonderfully done. He could have sold the injury a bit more, but in the end, we have the best Junior Heavyweight Tag Team back on top, as they enter their 5th reign. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** 3/4)
After the match, YOH challenged El Desperado for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, wanting to become a double champion in record time after an injury return.
IWGP World Heavyweight Title Match – Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay
This is the big one, the first defense of the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. It’s creation caused some strife between NJPW and their fanbase, but if this starts a legacy of more epic matches going forward, that could start to drift away. With Will Ospreay having won the New Japan Cup over Shingo Takagi, Kota Ibushi has a major challenge ahead of him tonight, and fans have a great match to look forward to.
If Ibushi loses here, many will question if he overstepped his bounds and should have stayed in his lane and not unified the belts. Ibushi has become god, but Ospreay wants to be the one to prove he’s still mortal. They’d soak in the crowd’s applause, before locking up for some mat wrestling.
Ibushi has favoured these slow starts lately, but Ospreay won out. Ospreay would lose out with strikes, before Ibushi started more grappling. Ibushi had a hammerlock applied, but turned it around into a headlock. Ospreay shoved out and hit a shoulder tackle, before Ibushi hit a snap hurricanrana sending Ospreay to the outside.
Ibushi hit a plancha over the top rope, before sending Ospreay back into the ring. The hurt arm of Ospreay would become the target, but he’d come back by putting Ibushi crotch first on the top rope before nailing a running big boot to send him to the floor.
Ibushi had his neck bent over the barricade, which just fired the champion up… until he was hit with a backdrop on the barricade. Ospreay would have taken the count out win, but Ibushi got back in before even ten. Ibushi was taken back outside and set up on the apron, and Ospreay hit a knee drop on the neck.
Back in the ring, Ospreay applied a tight head scissor hold, and forced Ibushi to crawl to the ropes. A cravat would be applied next, but Ibushi fought free and dodged a knee drop. Ibushi fired off some kicks, before a dropkick to the face staggered Ospreay. The high angle schoolboy suplex dropped Ospreay on his neck, before Ibushi launched a hard kick.
Ospreay came back with a handspring kick, before setting Ibushi up in the tree of woe for the hesitation dropkick. This was followed up with the Springboard Forearm, getting a two count. Ospreay uncorked a heavy forearm, but Ibushi hit a knee to the recently broken nose in response. Ibushi followed up with a big lariat and the Last Ride powerbomb for a two count.
Kamigoye was set up by Ibushi, and Ospreay fought out with a headbutt. They’d trade their best blows in the middle of the ring, and Ospreay hit some Kawada style kicks which seemed to set Ibushi to the dark side. Ospreay worked fast to hit a reverse Bloody Sunday to try and stomp Ibushi now, but got a two count.
Ibushi found Ospreay on the top rope, and got shoved onto the top rope. Ospreay hit a dangling Ibushi with a shooting star press, before hitting a second one for a near fall. Ibushi was reeling, and Ospreay took the elbow pad off for Chelsea Grin, before Ibushi countered and set up the Lawn Dart.
Ospreay was now the one on the defensive, and was put on the top rope for a super reverse frankensteiner, but he landed on his feet. Ibushi had to pick it up and nailed the reverse frankensteiner in the middle of the ring, but Ospreay slipped outside.
Ospreay got the apron, but was taken back into the ring over the rope with a German Suplex. Ibushi went for Boma-Ye, but Ospreay countered a charging Ibushi into a Spanish Fly. OsCutter was set up, and Ibushi blocked the first only to get hit with the second, but still kicked out at two.
Chelsea Grin nailed the neck of Ibushi, before Ospreay went for Stormbreaker. A standing Kamigoye was followed by a second, and Ospreay kicked out. When the knee pad comes down, no one kicks out of Kamigoye, and Ospreay knows to counter into a roll up. He got the near fall, dodged the V-Trigger and hit one of his own.
Hidden Blade nailed, and as we hit the 30 minute mark, Ospreay hit Stormbreaker to win and become the new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. He’s the first UK born man to win the top belt in NJPW, after William Regal & Zack Sabre Jr. previously challenged.
This followed the typical NJPW epic formula, but they took it home before the match overstayed its welcome. Ospreay & Ibushi are amazing together, and this was their best match yet. The win of Ospreay was a shock, especially with Ibushi having been the one to unify the belts, losing on the first defense is unexpected. This won’t be their final clash. Match Rating: 4.5/5 (**** 1/2)
After the bell, Jeff Cobb hit a downed Kota Ibushi with the Tour of The Islands, much to the delight of his faction mates. Who will be the first man to challenge Will Ospreay for this championship? Simple. Kazuchika Okada hit the ring to call out his former protege, and so did Shingo Takagi. Can Okada or Shingo beat Ospreay again? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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