Which bright spark scheduled this US NJPW spectacular on the same day as AEW Full Gear?
I know they’re working together with the secret door, or invisible door or patio door or whatever. But this is a revolving door and there are too many people trying to get through it!
Should be given a lot more attention. Well, watched it, when the English commentary came in, don’t want to miss Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov, they are the best commentary team in wrestling at the moment.
How Did It Look?
Not great, actually. A pretty full hall, but the picture wasn’t always film quality, which we’ve come to expect. That picture was sometimes a bit loose, as if there was smoke in front of the lens; watchable, but needs to be called as seen.
How Did It Sound?
Fabulous. The crowd were febrile, loud and naughty. The chants were, anyway and it has the feeling of an Indie with a really hyped up group.
This makes NJPW US so different, no reverence that big promotions can often bring, the fans are into it and will let you know.
You can’t buy that.
The Matches? Since You Ask…
Josh Alexander v Yuya Eumura
As a curtain jerker, this one was special. Young tryer vs impertinence. Alexander showed that early on when, after he laid Eumura with punches, he gave him a little kick as if to say ‘you ain’t nothing’.
And Eumura looked to be almost begging off after chops in the corner, but he came back with chops of his own, a huge standing elbow drop and almost an elbow chop.
He then has to go to the ropes to foil an Alexander 3 amigos, but hit a lovely fisherman suplex for a long 2 count.
When Alexander synched in his scorpion deathlock, he didn’t sit back on it to really apply pressure.
Josh transitioned to a leglock, but Eumura perhaps sensed an ankle lock coming and transitioned to an armbar, with Josh rolling him up for a pin attempt.
You how this one ends, surely. It’s an Alexander ankle lock for the tap. And it seemed to come from nowhere.
A good solid, energetic opener. Necessary and very well done.
Bateman & Mysterioso v Dickinson & King
The Stray Dog Army v VLNCE UMLTD; are the latter still a team? Weren’t they a Ring Of Honor thing? Is that a promotion right now? Guess so, but…
Oh well, this promises to be tough and uncompromising. And it was. But it wasn’t fantastic.
Early on King destroyed Bateman with a cannonball and a belly to back on Mysterio into his partner, Mysterioso answered with a lovely moonsault to the outside.
And we were distracted by the action outside so we missed Bateman getting the pin on Dickinson.
‘What the hell happened?’ shouted Kelly. Well, apparently Kevin, it was an injury and they had to go home. Hamstring. Dickinson was stretched off after and I hope he’s OK.
Team Filthy v Fred Rosser/Alex Coughlin/David Finlay/Rocky Romero/Alex Zayne
This one should be tasty. There’s previous here. Very recent previous.
On the last NJPW Stong, Rosser handed Lawlor his first NJPW loss. Filthy Tom didn’t handle it well and the Team cut his hair, even chewing on some of it. That was too much off the top, Rosser’s scalp was visible.
So now Fred sports a shaved head and he looks mean. And there was a real angry feeling in the ring too.
Lawlor and Rosser battled first, Rosser succeeding with chops before they tumbled to the outside and Rosser dropped Danny Limelight on his back on the apron. Owowow.
After all hell broke loose, Rosser hit a sweet dragon screw, Finlay delighted with a tilt a whirl suplex and Rocky, feeling the fans’ chant, connected with a missile dropkick.
Now, deadlift man Alex Coughlin tried to muscle up JR Kratos and found it was too early in the match, receiving a superman punch for his impudence.
And then, the spot of the night. Alex Zayne over the top onto everyone except Limelight who had a go next, Rocky enjoyed the sight and followed suit. Which caused someone else to get an idea.
JR Kratos wasn’t going to jump over the top rope, was he? He was and it got a ‘holy sh*t’ chant, quite rightly.
If that was his highlight, being muscled up by Coughlin wasn’t good, but the young Magnum lookalike is really making a stir in NJPW at the moment.
Time for the West Coast Wrecking Crew to show their skill; knees to a suplex was fluid and lovely to watch.
And just when you thought they might crank it higher, Rosser got the pin with a power slam. Shame really, this multi man match was fast, fun and frenzied.
Jeff Cobb & TJP v Karl Fredericks & Clark Conners
Strange to say, but with these big men in the ring, TJP might be the weak link here.
This was fun, such fun that at one point Cobb stood on Connors’ back and hit a surfing stance.
Very quickly though, he reminded Clark that it wasn’t all fun by picking him up and charging him into the corners repeatedly.
Connors want finished, he hit a massive German suplex on TJP, his partner Fredericks going one better with a spinebuster on Cobb.
And then a Kevin Kelly ‘How on earth does he do that?’ moment after Cobb’s standing moonsault. I’m asking that myself.
Connors was allowed to give big Jeff his trademark spear and then when TJP had Fredericks pinned, turned it around to give his partner the pin.
The issue with that? The ref saw him do it and carried on. They should have stopped the pin and finished the match another way.
Shame; this was a good, tough, attractive match which deserved a better end.
Ren Narita v Will Ospreay
This has previous aswell. Remember 2 weeks ago on Stong, Narita tossing the belt back at Will and telling him he didn’t need the fake belt?
That takes come confidence. Now he has to back it up.
Ren went after him early, but was slowed somewhat by being dropped back first across the guardrail.
Ospreay is such a talent isn’t he? Almost unreal, the snap and height in his handspring and somersault kicks.
Narita is no slouch either, he worked a cobra twist and made it look nasty and hurtful whilst Kevin Kelly laid out the legacy of the move – this is one of the reasons why Kelly is so good.
That move seamlessly moved to a fisherman suplex for a Ren 2 count and when he synched his leg lock, Will was in so much pain, as the ref reached out to ask him if he quit, he bit those fingers!
By now we had ‘this is awesome’ chants, so going to the finish was the right thing to do; Narita kicked out if the Oscutter but couldn’t manage to beat the Blade.
Ospreay won but Narita was given a big chance here and was equal to it.
Moose v Juice
There’s Juice And Moose Aboot This Hoose!
And this was all pretty good, if never great.
Moose started strong, big tasted a Juice Hand Of God when he came off the top, kicking out at 2 and some after a Pulp Friction. That’s one Juice finisher down…
Moose showed what an athlete he was with a sudden superplex, fast, fluid, and very fine, but it didn’t get the job done.
What did, after a Juice victory roll and pin attempt, was the spear, which always looks devastating when Moose does it.
The match was OK, but people will be talking about what happened next.
Jonah Rock happened. The man many called Bronson Reed in WWE came out to look Moose up and down.
But was he there to mess with Impact or NJPW? He immediately sentoned Juice and his mate Finlay, so that’ll be NJPW. A match against Cobb can’t be far away…
Okada v Buddy Matthews
New boy Buddy was put in with much loved Okada. In the semi-main event. And it didn’t really catch fire.
Sorry, I feel as bad writing those words as I know you do reading them.
It was fine, but it wasn’t as good as know these two can be. Buddy looked ripped and I hope he’s on a long term contract. Okada is, well, Okada. Need I say more?
Buddy did a lot of the work early on, a topé con hielo, a buckle bomb and he smacked the big OK up so much, Jeremy Marcus checked on him to see if he could continue.
Suddenly though, it’s a lovely tombstone piledriver and he makes it rain; the pin came shortly after.
And Ospreay came out for a staredown and a confirmation that yes, they will fight in the New Year. My hope is Wrestle Kingdom.
Nice to see you Buddy, it just wasn’t your night tonight.
Jay White v Tomohori Ishii
For the Never Openweight Title, this. Jay White didn’t want to fight Ishii. But Tomohori got into his head and so he accepted a match at the last NJPW Strong taping.
Ishii is a tough cookie. He isn’t a hugely energetic wrestler, so you know what mind of match you’re going to get.
But they went back and forth, chops, an Ishii powerslam and we had some competing chants, a sure sign the crowd were enjoying it.
And the Ishii superplex, with a jump before he executed it, my word! White though took him over with a lariat and a brainbuster for a 2 count, then tried for the blade runner twice and made do with a dragon suplex.
Ishii perhaps saw this series and hit a lariat of his own, turning White inside out and his vertical drop brainbuster for the pin.
The pin. Ishii is the champ.
Is That Wise?
Ishii is over. He can do more than the tough stuff. But he is known for the tough stuff.
His reign may be a little different than that of King Switch. The matches certainly will be, plus his more taciturn nature will have an effect too. The Never-O? You never know…
Did It Work?
On the whole, yes. Nothing was poor, lots was really good and a surprise title change made the night.
It may not have looked fabulous, the picture wasn’t always as sharp as wd may have liked, but the crowd made up for it.
They loved being there. They were up for it. They were fervid and wanted to show us. This is a different NJPW, one which absolutely opens the world of wrestling open up for them.
Battle for the Valley? The Valley never stood a chance