So New Japan returns to America, with even more of a following and larger storylines than before. Last year the two day event was driven by the inaugural IWGP US Heavyweight Championship tournament, but this year, most people are hooked in on the Bullet Club storyline. Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks, will it finish the implosion of the Bullet Club, or will it unlock more? Cody and Marty against Guerrillas of Destiny, more Bullet Club in-fighting.
Let’s just hope the hype and expectation don’t ruin the perception of the event. AXS TV puts on damn good programming, and we’ve got great announcers. Yes, the announcers we lambasted last year, but I don’t think JR will allow that again.
6 Man Tag Match: So Cal Uncensored vs Roppongi 3k
Kazarian and Daniels saw Sho and Yoh in ROH last year as the Tempura Boys, but they’ve come a long way since then.
This match was fast paced, with names the crowd are fully aware of. A few odd spots, Kazarian slipped when he was trying to do a springboard leg drop, so ends up hoping on one foot to deliver it and Scorpio Sky delivers a cutter to Christopher Daniels, but it was still fun. For an opening match, it did exactly what it should have.
Winner: Roppongi 3k
Rating: * 3/4
Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs Hirooki Goto & Gedo
Seems like this match is setting up Juice as Goto’s next challenger for the NEVER Openweight Title.
Fast paced match, with Gedo doing the lion’s share of the work. Goto looked a little weak for a top champion, but the story was more just Gedo getting worked over. Even with a few short cut attempts from Gedo, Juice and Finlay pulled out the victory. Finlay got the pin after a rolling cutter.
A little surprised Juice didn’t pin Gedo if they’re trying to hammer home him as the next challenger for Goto, but I suppose Finlay needed a bone thrown his way.
Winner: Juice & Finlay
Killer Elite Squad vs Toru Yano & Chuckie T
The two biggest guys in New Japan, against, two renown comedic wrestlers. So this doesn’t seem fair on paper, but Yano is like life in Jurassic Park, he finds a way.
Chuckie T got throttled for 70 percent of this match, while Yano was cowering in fear and trying to pick his spots. But when Yano finally got in, we all got to see his brand of humor, which is a nice mixture of cowardly heel tactics and situational comedy with turnbuckle pads. However, the laughter stopped once Archer got pissed off and they hit a Killer Bomb on Chuckie T.
Entertaining as hell, and even purists might find this acceptable.
Winner: Killer Elite Squad
Rating: ** 1/2
Marty Scurll & Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes vs Guerrillas of Destiny
Cody wasn’t happy about this pairing to begin with, and tries to play nice with the Tongans initially. A promo to start off with leads to another layer in this faction war.
The crowd hates Cody just like last year, and it’s perfect since he’s supposed to be seen as the bad guy. So Tama Tonga hits a Crossroads on Cody for a near fall, the crowd pops. Cody took a good bit of punishment throughout the match, all to the crowd’s delight, while Marty was trying to string together an opening. It wasn’t the cleanest match for the work rate enthusiasts, but the over arching storyline helped carry this.
A few moments of all four men trading moves and coming close to winning it for their team, it ends with Cody hitting a big Crossroads.
Winner: Marty & Cody
Rating: ** 1/4
8 Man Tag: Hiromu Takahashi, Bushi, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs Dragon Lee, Ryusuke Taguchi, Kushida & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Typical large tag match, with some story threads, but mostly for entertainment.
This match was exactly what it was supposed to be, action packed, filled with wrestlers the fans enjoy and just fun. Taguchi had his coach moment, SANADA landed a Paradise Lock, Hiromu was crazy, Tanahashi hit a Slingblade (which he innovated) and Naito was Naito. Surprisingly, after a lot of good chaos, one Destino put Taguchi away for the pinfall victory.
After the match, Naito does the Tranquilo pose, and then all members of LIJ get into a celebratory group pose. Good fun match.
Winner: Los Ingobernabes de Japon
Rating: ** 3/4
Jushin Thunder Liger vs Will Ospreay
The best Junior in history, Liger, against the current top guy (with one of the best themes right now), doesn’t really need a lot of hype. It was nice to see Mysterio show up before this match to address things and take a front row seat.
This match went the way most of us expected. Liger used more power moves than high flying moves, but he still managed to dominate most of the match. Hitting a big Brainbuster on the ramp, an avalanche Brainbuster and even a Liger Bomb, but still Ospreay kicked out. It wasn’t until Ospreay caught Liger in a Liger Bomb of his own, that the tides turned and Ospreay his an Oscutter for the pinfall victory.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) March 26, 2018
Ospreay put over Liger, challenged Mysterio and then got jumped by Marty Scurll afterwards. Scurll was needed to break up the “face respect” promo, so it was a nice wrinkle and a good way to establish Scurll as the next opponent, before Mysterio heals up.
Winner: Will Ospreay
Rating: *** 1/4
Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr & Minoru Suzuki
This match is to give Sabre and Okada a little heat leading into Sakura Genesis, and Ishii might be on the docket for Suzuki if he beats Naito.
Sabre and Suzuki both put on a clinic in this match. Okada and Ishii were fighting from underneath the entire time, and even though they had a few moments of offense, the submissions were fantastic. There was even one spot where Suzuki and Sabre were alternating limbs on Ishii while the referee was reprimanding Okada.
Sabre picks up the submission victory on Ishii with, I don’t know what it is, it might be what he calles Hypernomalisation, but it just looks like terrible pain. I don’t bend like that, and no one should.
Winner: Sabre & Suzuki
Rating: *** 3/4
IWGP United States Championship: Jay White (c) vs Hangman Page
Hangman had something to prove since he feels over shadowed by the drama and Jay needs to prove himself as not just a fluke.
This match was an oddity. It was decently wrestled, had a lot of pace changes and hard hitting moves…but the crowd was in and out, and the action slowed to a crawl at times. Also a huge miss from from Jay White, when he tried to German Suplex Page on the apron, and twisted to the side and sent him reeling to the floor, while clipping the apron.
Some of the moves felt like that took too long to set up or were just trying to hard for a flashy spot. Page had a nice sequence at the end where he hits his Shooting Star Shoulder Block and then his Buckshot Lariat, but Jay counters a Rite of Passage beautifully into the Bladerunner.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) March 26, 2018
After the match, David Finlay spears White and challenges him for the belt. I don’t know what right Finlay has when he’s lost more than he’s won or been stuck in tag team purgatory. Sure, Finlay and White have history as Young Lions, but a Mister Potato head has a more believable shot than Finlay.
Winner: Jay White
Rating: *** 1/2
Golden Lovers vs The Young Bucks
Another chapter of the Bullet Club saga unfolds in the main event. Young Bucks move up in weight class, and the Golden Lovers look to prove themselves.
This match had most of what anyone could want, however, it was sloppy at times. Ibushi and Omega had timing issues early, and it wasn’t caught on camera, but there may have been an issue with Ibushi during his half of the Cross Slash.
The nit picks aside, story telling was great, reluctance from Omega and Bucks slowly went away at different points in the match. Thanks to that, the first table spot was more poignant because it went from Nick telling Matt not to go there, to Nick saying screw it let’s do it, and then Matt eventually putting Omega through the table mid More Bang for Your Buck.
The second table spot was unnecessary and seemed more like an excuse to keep Nick out of things for a prolonged period. Matt sold his ass off for another match, and it definitely helps to add to a psychology aspect. I don’t know if they started this dynamic because they were sick of the hate, but Matt being the one who sells and Nick being the hot tag guy, has worked wonderfully for them this year.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) March 26, 2018
Winner: Golden Lovers
Rating: **** 1/2
After the tag match, Cody came out, pushed Matt Jackson and seems to be driving the wedge even deeper between the remaining members of the Bullet Club. So Cody being the cancer that it slowly killing the Bullet Club is a very nice story, regardless of match quality, Cody is elevating everyone in Bullet Club.
When it comes to the show, this was really just a normal New Japan show. An undercard that is alright but nothing special and two or three main matches that deserve to go on last and bring the show home. It was hard to live up to last year, since the first show is always more special, but this was by no respect bad. Could it have underwhelmed? Sure. Will some people who read the hype, think this was lame? Of course.
But when it comes down to it; who cares? AXS delivered something special, and the more exposure and popularity New Japan gets, means the shows will get better. We’ve got the Cow Palace in July as the next AXS special, so let’s just look forward to that…and get a NJPWWORLD subscription.
Mitchell’s Women of Wrestling Results & Report! (1/18/19)
Prepare to be wowed by WOW, the Women of Wrestling! Who will be the first to step up to the Super Woman, Santana Garrett, on the very first night?
- The Beast VS Stephy Slays; The Beast wins.
- Abilene Maverick VS Fire; Maverick wins.
- Eye Candy VS Khloe Hurtz; Eye Candy wins.
- WOW World Championship: Santana Garrett VS Jungle Grrrl; Jungle Grrrl wins by count out, Santana Garrett retains the WOW World Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
Welcome to WOW!
The Women of Wrestling return to television with this season premiere! And what better way to kick it off than with THE WOW World Champion, Santana Garrett! The real-life Wonder Woman hits the ring with a newly designed title belt, and Santana is so happy to be here in front of the fans. And she’s especially proud to have her father, “TNT” Keny G watching live and in person. Both daughter and father are emotional over this moment. They’ve been through a lot, and they’re both so thankful that he’s here to cheer on his baby girl. The fans are happy for them, but here comes someone to crash the party! It’s Tessa Blanchard!
The second generation “Born Legend” stares down Santana, and takes the mic. Santana has her dad here, huh? Isn’t that sweet? Tessa says Grandpa Blanchard ran over his territory back in the day, while stepdad Magnum TA is one of the most respected men in this industry. And let’s not forget Tessa’s own father, THE Tully Blanchard, is a WWE Hall of Famer and an original Four Horseman! Keny probably laced up Tully’s boots. Actually, no, Keny probably carried Tully’s bags. WOW booker David McLane tries to keep the peace, but Tessa says Santana should be the one carrying her bags! David says Tessa coming in here bragging about her family tree doesn’t give her the right to just interrupt proceedings. Tessa says she’s not out here just to brag, she’s out here to go after the WOW World Championship.
David says that to get a shot at the title, you have to earn your way up. You don’t get something just because of dad, stepdad and granddad were special. Tessa says that because of who her dad is, she might as well be handed that belt. David asks Tessa to please leave. Tessa has to work for a shot. That’s fine by Tessa, she doesn’t want any trouble. But she will let Santana know that both she and the belt are Tessa’s. Santana says that she doesn’t see any of Tessa’s dads here. So get to the back of the line, girlfriend! Tessa smiles and nods, she knows she’ll get her match. But with the title on the line in the very first episode, will it be Santana Garrett or former champion, Jungle Grrrl, that Tessa will be targeting in the coming weeks?
The Beast has issued an open challenge!
She knows she’s the biggest and the baddest Woman of Wrestling, and looks to prove her superiority. She dares any woman in the locker room to step up and prove her wrong. While watching backstage, The Governor’s Daughter, Abilene Maverick, took advantage. Maverick tricked Stephy Slays about match times, and Slays was just a lamb to the slaughter! Slays realized she was fooled, but didn’t want to be a coward. She jumped into the ring, only to get demolished! Tonight, Slays wishes to prove she’s not so easily crushed. She takes on The Beast again, will she get payback on both Beast and Maverick? Or will it be more of the same?
The Beast VS Stephy Slays!
The bell rings and they tie up! Beast throws Slays into a corner hard! Slays gets right up, though, and goes again. Beast waistlock tosses Slays around, then SPEARS Slays to a corner! She rams shoulder after shoulder into Slays, then forearms! The ref counts and Beast backs off at 4. Beast runs in again but Slays dodges! Slays goes up and leaps, but into a belly2belly! Beast thrashes Slays then drags her up by her hair. Beast puts Slays in a corner then whips corner to corner for a big corner clothesline! Fans duel as Beast lifts Slays easily. Beast walks around and throws Slays with a Fall Away Slam! Slays rolls to ropes but Beast is on her again with another toss. Beast stands on Slays for a cocky cover, TWO!! Slays survives and shocks The Beast!
The Beast boots Slays back down and grins. She runs in but Slays rolls her up, ONE! Slays dropkicks and staggers Beast! Slays runs in again, victory roll countered to the Air Raid Siren! Cover, TWO!! Beast was cocky again but now she’s frustrated. Beast stomps Slays around, then drags her up for forearms. She kicks Slays while she’s down, then grins again. The sadistic specimen whips Slays corner to corner for another clothesline, then throws Slays with a gut wrench suplex! Beast grins as Slays slowly stands. Beast grabs Slays for a suplex, and slam! Cover, but Beast lets Slays up this time! Beast wants to make Slays pay for lasting this long, and she drags Slays up for a Beast Bomb!! Cover, Beast wins!
Winners: The Beast, by pinfall
Dominant for the second time against Slays, The Beast looks to be rolling on towards the title! Will she be the one to challenge the winner of tonight’s main event?
The Beast takes to the mic.
“I’m the biggest. I’m the baddest.” And she is THE BEAST! She roars in victory, will anyone ever come close to making a dent in her?
“My mom grew up in Georgia, my dad grew up in Mississippi, so I’m Southern Blood.” Fire was brought up in a strict upbringing, and she was a gifted student so there was a lot of pressure put on her to succeed. When she entered middle school, she went “off track”, and no one around her understood why. Fire was bullied for being smart, to the point of death threats. Wrestling was her way to feel stronger. Through wrestling, she realized anything was possible, like she could escape this reality. Fire steps up for who she really is, and for what she who to be. “If you want it enough, if you fight for it enough, there is no stopping you.” There is no stopping Fire now, will she blaze a trail to the title?
Abilene Maverick VS Fire!
The Governor’s Daughter shows off her new glittering robe as she makes her entrance, but we have a WOW debut for Fire tonight! Will Maverick be the first wrestler burned by Fire’s passion?
The bell rings and the two circle. Fans fire up for Fire and she feeds off the energy. Maverick plugs her ears to ignore it all, and she pushes Fire down with a wristlock! Fire kips up and wrings Maverick out! Fire has an armlock but Maverick endures. Maverick rolls and scoop slams Fire fast! Fire gets up fast, and the two circle again. They tie up and Fire pushes Maverick back. Fire whips but Maverick reverses, only for Fire to slide under and hit a big dropkick! Maverick is reeling as Fire runs corner to corner for a splash! Fire keeps moving but misses this time. Maverick misses and Fire gets a waistlock. Maverick pries free to reel Fire in for a shoulder! She throws Fire down by her hair, then drags Fire up for a big back suplex! Cover, ONE!
Maverick keeps her cool while Fire crawls. Fans rally but Maverick grabs Fire to throw her back down. Fans boo but Maverick soaks up their heat. Maverick kicks Fire while she’s down, then drags her up by her hair again. Fire hits back with forearms, and then kicks. Fire runs, basement dropkick! Cover, TWO! Fire keeps on Maverick at the ropes with a whip, but Maverick reverses to a drop toehold. Maverick grins as she picks Fire up again. Maverick rams Fire’s face back into the mat! Fire crawls while the referee reprimands Maverick. Maverick hotshots Fire on the ropes, then drags her over for springboard knee drops! Maverick soaks in the heat again, then runs corner to corner for a big knee! She kicks and rolls Fire, to mule kick her down! Cover, TWO!
Maverick keeps her composure as Fire continues to survive. Fans rally up for Fire again as Maverick drags her up. Scoop, but Fire slips out to shove! Fire dodges and elbows Maverick down! Fire rallies with more elbows, then brings Maverick to a snapmare and mule kick of her own! Maverick crawls and Fire runs corner to corner, big clothesline! She keeps going, hip attack! Then side to side for the shotgun dropkick! Cover, TWO!! Maverick survives and Fire can’t believe it! But fans fire up for Fire again as she drags Maverick back up. Fire fishermans, and swings for the neckbreaker! Cover, TWO!? Maverick survives and Fire is in shock! Fire keeps going, powered by the fans. She drags Maverick up again, but Maverick knees low, for the draping DDT!! Cover, Maverick wins!
Winner: Abilene Maverick, by pinfall
The Governor’s Daughter may not be the fan’s favorite, but she’s still the winner. Will Abilene make her move towards the WOW World Championship?
Abilene Maverick spots Stephy Slays in the medical area.
Wow, poor Slays didn’t learn her lesson the first time. But then Maverick gets a taste of her own medicine as The All Natural pushes her out of the way. It seems there’s someone with a bigger attitude than even Maverick. Will Khloe Hurtz bring the pain tonight?
Eye Candy VS Khloe Hurtz!
Sugary sweet but ready to fight, Eye Candy will look to ruin #KhloeTime tonight. Will Candy leave the fans with a sugar high? Or will the All Natural leave Candy crushed?
The bell rings and the two circle. They tie up and Candy rolls Hurtz, TWO! Candy is all smiles as she and Hurtz go again. Hurtz kicks low then wrenches to reel Candy in. Candy ducks and hooks, backslide! TWO and the two turn sideways. Candy and Hurtz fight for control, Candy drop toeholds into a camel clutch! She tucks Hurtz in for a cover, TWO! Hurtz runs in but Candy blocks to a suplex! Fans fire up with Candy as she hits a back senton! Cover, TWO! Candy keeps her cool as she drags Hurtz up into a fireman’s carry. Candy hits a rolling senton, then climbs up top. Hurtz trips her up, and hits a draping backstabber! Hurtz whips Candy corner to corner but Candy cartwheels and comes back with forearms! Candy even headbutts before adding the hip attack!
Fans fire up with Candy as she climbs up again! Candy shimmies and shakes then hits a big missile dropkick! Cover, TWO! Hurtz survives and Candy can’t believe it! Hurtz’s Ring Rats grow concerned as Candy drags her back up. Fireman’s carry, but Hurts fights out again. Hurts fireman’s Candy, does some squats, then hits a Samoan Drop! Hurtz drops the leg! Cover, TWO! Candy survives and Hurtz can’t believe it! Hurtz drags Candy up and suplexes, but Candy resists. Candy hits back and wrenches to the fireman’s carry. Death Valley Driver! Candy drags Hurtz over, climbs up top, MOONSAULT! Cover, Candy wins!
Winner: Eye Candy, by pinfall
What a shocker! The sweet Eye Candy gets a big win on the series premiere! Will this shocker send Eye Candy all the way to WOW Championship contention?
The Voodoo Doll asks the WOW roster, “Would you like to know what The Siren has in store for you?” Let the cards tell your fate. The Devil: Siren is the change that is coming to Women of Wrestling’s landscape. The Five of Wands: currently, there is a power struggle in the locker room. But that top spot will soon belong to her. And finally, Death: Siren is the final transformation, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Siren has been to Hell and back, and has regained her power. She will sacrifice WOW to the darkness! Who will be the first?
WOW World Championship: Santana Garrett VS Jungle Grrrl!
The Wonder Woman of Wrestling is just one of eight children in her family, but she and her father grew closer through wrestling. Keny G brought her into the fold, and now they’re both living a dream together! But she again faces the Alpha Female, the one and only woman to have yet to be pinned in a match! Jungle Grrrl became WOW World Champion, but ended up getting in over her head in a Triple Threat. Santana pinned The Beverly Hills Babe to win the title, shocking everyone. But now Santana must prove she can defeat Jungle Grrrl 1v1, can Santana prove she deserves to be champion?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and we begin! Fans are already fired up as the two circle and tie up. Santana waistlocks but JG standing switches. Santana headlocks then wrenches the wrist. JG rolls and reverses to her own wristlock, but Santana rolls and handsprings to reverse back. JG uses the ropes to flip through and wrench Santana back. Santana counters with another headlock, then a roll to a cover, TWO and JG gets Santana with a ghost pin! TWO, and Santana Oklahoma rolls! ONE and JG sweeps to a cover, ONE! The two stare down as fans fire up again. Santana and JG nod with respect as they circle again. They tie up and go for a test of strength. JG bends Santana back but Santana bridges. Santana comes back and rolls back to reverse the knuckle lock!
Santana throws an elbow while maintaining the grip. She whips but JG reverses to dropkick her down! Cover, TWO! JG stalks Santana and scoops her up, for a Jungle Driver! Cover, TWO! Santana survives but JG keeps her cool. JG stomps Santana and heads for a corner. She climbs up to the top rope, familiar territory, and leaps for the Jungle Splash! But she flops! Santana hurries up but Tessa Blanchard appears! Tessa goes after Keny G’s oxygen! Santana rushes out at Tessa and a fight is on! Santana throws Tessa around and into the ring, but she wasn’t aware of a ring count! It hits 10, and Santana loses!!
Winner: Junger Grrrl, by ring out; Santana Garrett retains the WOW World Championship
Champion’s Advantage is the only thing that saves Santana’s reign, but she still got suckered by the Born Legend! And now Tessa brings the fight to Santana, with a Hammerlock DDT! But Jungle Grrrl gets back at Tessa with a Jungle Driver! Tessa screwed Jungle Grrrl over just as much as she did Santana, and now she has problems. But wait, The Beast goes after Jungle Grrrl! These top predators are face to face but referees hurry to keep them apart. Fans want to “Let Them Fight!” but TV time is running out just as things are getting wild! Will Tessa pay for her interference? Will The Beast replace Jungle Grrrl as the Alpha Woman of Wrestling?
Apparently, this isn’t the beginning of the Women of Wrestling’s history. They’ve been around for a long time, trying in 2000 but fading away, until being revived in mid-2012. But even if this wasn’t the true beginning, this was a good beginning for their AXS TV run. There’s a lot of backstory to get caught up on, but it would seem they made sure to give us those needed recap packages so new viewers aren’t too lost. Many of these alter egos and their elaborate packages make me feel like WOW is an all women’s version of Lucha Underground, which is known for having many wrestlers come up with alternate characters to fit their universe. And there are even shared talents between WOW and LU, such as Shaul Guerrero and Kobra Moon.
As such, the story behind The Beast VS Stephy Slays rematch was made rather clear. It was a good match and Slays got to show plenty of heart, but obviously heart alone isn’t enough. The Beast wins to establish herself as the monster Heel to new viewers. And with Abilene Maverick (Callee Wilkerson) picking on her, that seems like a story going forward. Maverick VS Fire (Taylor Lewis) was also a solid match, and Maverick won to help towards that story with Slays. Eye Candy (Willow Nightingale) VS Khloe Hurtz (Katie Forbes) was decent, and Candy wins mostly so that it isn’t all Heels winning. There are WOW World Tag Team Championships, but they’ve been vacated for years, so I’m wondering if any teams will form out of these midcard stories to give us more action with that.
The main event was pretty good, just not as a match. First, I wouldn’t announce time limits when we know the show is only an hour, it just seems like a waste. Second, Santana VS Jungle Grrrl really only got going when Tessa came out to Heel it up. Third, that 10 count was probably the fastest 10 count I’ve ever seen. But the brawl between Tessa and Santana, and then the impending brawl between The Beast and Jungle Grrrl just managed to salvage things. We have our stories going forward, and at the very least, I wasn’t bored to sleep. There are some things that need work, and this was a rather tough time to move into the television wrestling sphere, but this isn’t a bad program to give a fair shake.
My Score: 8/10
Mitchell’s NJPW AXS TV Wrestle Kingdom 13 Results, Part 3!
NJPW and AXS wrap up Wrestle Kingdom 13 with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship! Will Kushida be able to deny The Bone Soldier, Taiji Ishimori?
This coverage of Wrestle Kingdom 13 will be as AXS TV broadcasts it.
Gifs can be found on http://frentique.tumblr.com/
- NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Gauntlet: Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano win and will challenge Taiji Ishimori & The Guerrillas of Destiny for the titles at New Year’s Dash.
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kushida VS Taiji Ishimori; Ishimori wins and becomes the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the scene for this year’s spectacular event!
The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship had a rocky 2018. The Ticking Time-Bomb, Hiromu Takahashi, had only just won the belt off of Will Ospreay, and moved on to defend it against fierce CMLL rival, Dragon Lee, at the G1 Special in San Francisco. Hiromu won but was badly injured from that fight, and so a tournament between the four previous title holders was held! Kushida defeated Bushi while Marty Scurll again got the better of Will Ospreay. And in the tournament finals, Kushida would defeat The Villain to become a six-time champion. Meanwhile, The Bone Soldier would be resurrected as Taiji Ishimori joined Bullet Club! Ishimori was a Super Junior finalist, but missed out on his chance at the title. Now he gets his chance to have the title for his own, can he throw down the Time Splitter?
However, Ishimori’s focus might be split, as he is also one third of the current NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions. Tonight, five top teams in the Six Man Tag Division will compete, and the last team standing moves on to New Year’s Dash to challenge Ishimori and the Guerrillas of Destiny! Who comes out on top aimed at the Bullet Club’s fiercest trio? That match, is now!
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Gauntlet!
First out for this gauntlet are the Bullet Club Elite’s trio of Marty Scurll, Hangman Adam Page and Yujiro Takahashi! The Villain has his umbrella, Hangman has his rope and Tokyo Pimp has both cane and vivacious valet. Chase Owens also hangs around, for moral support. Their opponents are David Finlay, Jeff Cobb and Yuji Nagata! Will either of these teams be able to complete the gauntlet and make a run at New Year’s Dash?
The Bullet Club VS David Finlay, Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata!
The teams sort out and it’ll be Blue Justice starting against The Villain. Marty and Yuji circle and tie up, and Marty gets a waistlock. Yuji reverses but Marty rolls and spins to reverse back. Yuji gets a headlock takeover but Marty headscissors so Yuji pops out. The two stand off and fans applaud. They circle again, and Marty kicks low. Marty throws forearms but Yuji throws them back. Yuji runs but Marty dodges for the 52 Fake Out! Marty flaps his wings and runs, but Yuji dodges. Yuji fakes Marty out to dropkick! Yuji drags Marty up but Marty gets the fingers! Marty calls for silence, but Yuji breaks fre. Yuji sweeps the legs then ties them up for a deathlock! Marty crawls and gets the ropebreak! Yuji lets Marty go but grabs the legs again to tag to Cobb.
Cobb grabs Scurll but Scurll rakes the eyes! Scurll tags to Hangman, and both Hangman and Yujiro go after Yuji and Finlay! The Elite surround Cobb but Cobb fires off haymakers and chops on all of them! Cobb runs, but Yujiro drop toeholds. Scurll adds a basement dropkick and Hang,an hits the standing shooting star! Cobb rolls away while fans cheer The Elite on. Marty and Hangman run crisscross for a SUPERKICK to another shooting star! They take down Hawaiian Hulk and put him in the ring. Fans rally up as Yujiro keeps Cobb’s attention. Hangman slingshots for the Buckshot lariat! Cover, TWO! Hangman keeps his cool as he goes to lift Cobb. He gets Cobb up but Cobb fights out, so Hangman forearms. Hangman kicks but is blocked into a Fall Away Slam!
Both men crawl for their corners, and fans rally as hot tags are made to Finlay and Yujiro! Finlay rallies on Tokyo Pimp with forearms. They start brawling with forearm after forearm back and forth, then Finlay European Uppercuts. Finlay kicks but Yujiro blocks that to throw him down, then adds a basement dropkick! Yujiro hits a Fisherman Buster, covers, but Yuji and Cobb break it! Scurll and Hangman throw them abck out and brawl on the outside. Yujiro lifts Finlay but Finlay slips out for a urenage backbreaker! Finlay fires up but Yujiro denies the cutter. Yujiro pushes Finlay to ropes and Chase swipes at Finlay’s feet! Finlay grabs Chase’s hair, but gets caught. Hangman runs in but gets Chase instead!
Yujiro gets mad at Hangman and shoves him, but Hangman shoves Yujiro back! Finlay rolls Yujiro up, Finlay’s team ELIMINATES The Elite! Chase and Hangman start shoving and Scurll has to keep the peace. It seems the Bullet Club is still not fine, but the action rolls on! The third team is Chaos’ Hirooki Goto and the Best Friends, Chuck Taylor and Trent Baretta!
David Finlay, Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata VS Hirooki Goto & Best Friends!
NJPW on AXS returns as Goto, Trent and Chuckie T enter the ring. And before the bell rings again, Goto and Best Friends attack! Cobb and Finlay are thrown out while the Fierce Warrior stays on Blue Justice! The bell does ring and Goto stomps away in the corner. Yuji hits back with forearm and now it’s a brawl! Yuji hits and runs but Goto follows to run him over! Goto drags Yuji back up for a lift but Yuji reverses to the Fujiwara Armbar! Best Friends save Goto but Finlay and Cobb return. Chuckie T dropkicks Cobb out but Finlay dropkicks him back. Trent runs in but to a kick. Finlay whips but Trent comes back with a shotgun knee!
Fans applaud as Trent slingshots at Cobb, but Cob turns it into a powerbomb lift! Trent gets to the apron and mule kicks Cobb, and then Chuckie FLIES onto Cobb and Finlay! The Kentucky Gentleman wipes them both out at the ramp, but then holds them back up, for Trent’s BIG Asai Moonsault! Back in the ring, Goto fights with Yuji. Yuji fires off kicks then whips. Goto reverses and redirects, to scoop Yuji into Ushigoroshi! Cover, TWO! Goto keeps his cool as he stomps Yuji out. He bumps Yuji in the corner then tags in Chuckie. Chuckie stomps a mudhole into Yuji then walks it off. He comes back to snapmare Yuji for a basement dropkick. Cover, TWO! Chuckie tags to Trent and Best Friends work together with double whips, elbows, and a hug! And then double elbows!
Trent stomps Yuji before bringing him up for a CHOP! He trash talks and pie faces Yuji before another CHOP. Trent whips but Yuji reverses into the Fujiwara! Chuckie attacks to save Trent, but then Finlay goes after Chuckie. Chuckie throws Finlay out and puts Yuji in the corner. Trent hits a running chop, Chuckie hits a clothesline, then he feeds Yuji to Trent for a tornado DDT. But Yuji powers out and gets Chuckie with an exploder! Trent kicks and whips but Yuji reverses to an overhead suplex! Fans rally as Yuji crawls for his corner. Hot tags to Cobb and Goto! Cobb fires off chops and haymakers on Goto, then whips corner to corner. He runs in for a BIG back elbow, then runs back in. Goto boots, runs, but into the Athletic Plex! Cobb standing moonsaults! Cover, but Chuckie breaks it!
Yuji throws Chuckie out as Cobb focuses on Goto. Cobb lifts Goto but Goto fights out of the Olympic Slam to get a sleeper! Goto rolls Cobb to a pin but Yuji breaks it. Goto and Cobb collide with clotheslines, but neither falls. They try again, but still neither falls. Cobb combs back but Goto deflects and spins to clobber him with a clothesline! Both men are down but fans rally up. Tag to Chuckie and he goes at Cobb in a corner. Chuckie goes corner to corner for a back elbow, then whips. Cobb holds the ropes, breaks free but gets a mule kick. Trent runs in to hit a back elbow, then Best Friends fire up with a double whip. Cobb reverses to pull them into each other, then he gives both Best Friends a single leg suplex! Fans fire up for Cobb’s superhuman strength.
Cobb tags Finlay, and Finlay hits Best Friends with back elbows! He goes corner to corner again and again, then hops up to hit Chuckie with a flying uppercut! He runs in but into Chuckie’s knee! Chuckie hits the snap piledriver! Cover, but Yuji breaks it! Goto and Trent throw Cobb and Yuji out and brawl on the outside. Fans fire up as Chuckie climbs. Chuckie moonsaults but FLOPS! Finlay rolls him up, Finlay’s team ELIMINATES Goto & Best Friends! An incredible roll already, but can Finlay, Cobb and Yuji keep it up? The fourth team is Suzuki-Gun’s Killer Elite Squad and Minoru Suzuki himself!
David Finlay, Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata VS Minori Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad!
NJPW on AXS returns as The Meanest Man in the World leads Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer to the ring. And much like Chaos did, Suzuki-Gun strikes the moment they hit the ring! Things spill out of the ring and Suzuki keeps on Finlay at the bell. Yuji whips DBS to the barriers and quickly tags in! An old feud reignites as Blue Justice goes after Suzuki with kicks. He whips corner to corner but Suzuki boots him back. Suzuki and Yuji throw forearms, then Suzuki slaps! Yuji slaps, and now it’s a slap fight! Neither man slows down, but Yuji does stagger Suzuki. Suzuki escapes the exploder and goes for a guillotine! Then Suzuki shifts to an Octopus Stretch! Yuji slips out to hip toss and exploder! Cover, TWO!
Yuji keeps on Suzuki with a suplex, but Suzuki slips out to a sleeper hold. DBS tags in and throws forearms. He whips Yuji but Yuji dodges and fakes him out to dropkick the legs! Yuji tags to Cob and Cobb fires off on DBS! Cobb tries to lift but DBS fights out. DBS kicks away but Cobb grabs the leg. Cobb gets DBS in the Olympic Slam! Cobb moonsaults but misses! DBS hits Cobb with a BIG Back Suplex! Bridging cover, TWO! Suzuki and Yuji don’t stop brawling on the outside, and Yuji makes sure Suzuki doesn’t get away. Suzuki whips but Yuji reverses to send Suzuki into railing! Meanwhile, hot tags to Finlay and Archer! Finlay gets Archer with a Michinoku! Cover, TWO! DBS boots Finlay down, then KES hit Finlay with the Killer Bomb! Cover, Suzuki-Gun ELIMINATES Finlay, Cobb & Yuji!
The streak ends, and now we’re on to the fifth and final team! NJPW on AXS returns from break to reveal that it’ll be Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano and Togi Makabe! But they don’t even make it to the ring before Suzuki-Gun strikes!
Minori Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad VS Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe!
Suzuki-Gun throw hands and then throw their opponents into barriers! The ref has no choice but to ring the bell, and things slowly make their way to ringside. Suzuki whips Taguchi at the camera and sound crews, then he gets in the faces of commentary just because they’re there! Suzuki goes back to Taguchi to take off the rugby helmet and throw it at Taguchi. He puts Taguchi in the ring while Archer keeps on Makabe and Yano. Suzuki grinds his foot into Taguchi, then intimidates the ref. Suzuki drags Taguchi up for forearms, and Taguchi staggers about. Tag to DBS and he whips Taguchi for a boot. DBS pumps up and runs, for a leg drop, brother! Cover, TWO! DBS drags Taguchi up and tags Archer.
KES mug Taguchi, then scoop him for a double slam! Archer kicks Taguchi around, then drags him up for clubbing forearms. Archer climbs and goes Old School on the Funky Weapon, tagging Suzuki in as he does. Suzuki looms over the sputtering Taguchi, but he taunts Makabe and Yano. Taguchi hits back but Suzuki eggs him on. Taguchi keeps hitting but Suzuki rocks him with a right. Suzuki whips then dodges the Funky Weapon itself. He whips but Taguchi reverses to finally hit that Funky Weapon! Tag to Makabe! The Unchained Gorilla runs at Suzuki for corner to corner clotheslines! Then he roars as he gives corner punches! He hits all ten then laughs as he lifts Suzuki. Suzuki knees back then whips, and hits a boot in the corner. Suzuki snapmares then Penalty Kicks! Cover, TWO!
Fans rally up while Suzuki toys with Makabe. Makabe forearms but Suzuki gives it back. They keep going, forearm for forearm, back and forth. Makabe eggs Suzuki on, so Suzuki sneers as he winds up. Suzuki hits a HEAVY forearm and grins as Makabe staggers. Makabe stands and hits Suzuki back. Suzuki gives another heavy shot and Makabe again staggers. But Makabe starts grinning, and hits Suzuki again. Suzuki hits, Makabe hits, and the brawl is on. Makabe runs but into a kick. Suzuki runs, ducks, but gets the clothesline! Both men are down and fans fire up! Hot tags to DBS and Yano! YTR rallies on DBS with eye rakes. Yano looks to Taguchi for the call and Taguchi uses baseball signals! DBS headbutts Yano before the order completes!
DBS whips Yano corner to corner but misses. Yano runs corner to corner, to get the buckle pad! Taguchi gives another signals, and Yano understands. But Yano misses with the swing and DBS boots him down! Archer hits Taguchi, and then KES work together. Killer Hart Attack! Cover, TWO?! Archer argues with the referee but they just go again, high low! Cover, TWO!? Archer again argues with the referee, but KES try one more move. DBS lifts while Archer climbs, they hit Yano with a frog splash sidewalk slam! Cover, but Taguchi saves Yano! Archer swings on Taguchi but Taguchi dodges and runs! Funky Weapon is caught, but Makabe saves him. Suzuki and Makabe brawl again, but Suzuki follows to get Makabe in a sleeper! Then, Gotch Piledriver set up, but Funky Weapon saves Makabe!
Only for Suzuki to get the sleeper hold again! But Taguchi gives an extra bump to break free, then he runs to hit teh Funky Weapon again! Everyone’s down, but KES go after Yano again. They drag him up, Killer Bomb denied! Double low blow, denied! But double FUNKY WEAPON hits! DBS boots Taguchi but Makabe runs in. DBS stops him and KES double whip. Makabe breaks through for double clotheslines! Neither man falls so Yano makes sure to bump the ref. Taguchi intercepts Suzuki, double low blows! Archer thrown out, Yano rolls DBD, Yano and team win!!
Winners: Toru Yano, Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi, Yano pinning; #1 contenders to the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championships
The unlikeliest of trios wins it all! Suzuki is furious but all he can do is take it out on Young Lions. He grabs a chair and SMACKS away on them, then storms off to the back. Suzuki’s rage aside, will Taguchi, Makabe and Yano be able to pull off an upset against the Firing Squad? Is the New Year going to see new champions?
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kushida VS Taiji Ishimori!
The Time Splitter is a six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, but the new Bone Soldier is a three-time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion. Who will prove themselves to be THE top Junior Heavyweight tonight?
Introductions are made, and a little Kushida comes out? Doc Brown Taguchi comes out and powers up the flux capacitor. And… BAM! Kushida’s all grown up! Science fiction aside, the belt is raised and we begin! Kushida and Ishimori circle and feel it out. They tie up and Kushida gets the wristlock. Ishimori rolls and handsprings to reverses. Ishimori whips but Kushida reverses, only for Ishimori to handspring over him. Thigns speed up and Kushida kicks otu the arm! Kushida already has his target but Ishimori rakes the eyes! Ishimori runs but things speed up again, Kushida hip tosses and cartwheel dropkicks! Ishimori rolls to a corner but Kushida follows up with a dropkick to that arm! Kushida runs more, tilt-o-whirl but Ishimori pops out. Kushida tries again and goes for the Hoverboard! Ishimori blocks to get Kushida’s arm in a Labell Lock!
Kushida endures as Ishimori bends him back. He rolls but Ishimori rolls through to keep the lock on. Kushida endures more but Ishimori wrenches harder. Kushida crawls for ropes and reaches, ropebreak with a foot! Ishimori lets Kushida go and Kushida rolls out of the ring. Ishimori stomps Kushida at the corner, then goes after him in a corner. Kushida chops back, but Ishimori gives his own chop! Ishimori wrenches and whips corner to corner, but Kushida reverses! Ishimori Spider-Mans through the ropes, and slides under Kushida. He goes back out to shoulder and springboard to drop Kushida with a flying lariat! Ishimori takes a moment to flex while Kushida clutches his shoulder.
Ishimori stalks Kushida to the ropes, then drags him up. Kushida hits back with forearms to the abs but Ishimori hits back. Kushida kicks Ishimori hard in the leg! Ishimori runs in and deflects boots to kick Kushida in the back! Kushida is stuck on the ropes as Ishimori runs side to side, and hits the sliding German Suplex! Fans rally as Ishimori springboards, 450 splash! But Kushida evades enough to get the arm! Ishimori resists as Kushida pulls, but Kushida gets the armbar! Ishimori endures, flails and reaches. Things shift, and now Kushida uses the Labell Lock! Ishimori endures and pries his way out, but gets caught in a triangle! Kushida throws elbows in, but Ishimori deadlifts! Fireman’s carry, but Kushida goes for his Hoverboard again. Ishimori slips out, runs, tilt-o-whirl takedown back to the Labell!
Kushida rolls through, and kicks at the arm. Ishimori avoids the kick, then kicks back. Ishimori clubs Kushida, then whips him. Kushida handsprings, but onto an Electric Chair. Kushida spins but is blocked! Ishimori brings Kushida back up, shifts to Tombstone position, for a gutbuster drop! But Kushida catches the feet! He passes Ishimori to the ref, to kick out the arm! Fans fire up with Kushida while Ishimori clutches his bad arm. Kushida grits his teeth, runs side to side, big enziguri! He keeps going, rolling Ishimori through to the package, but Ishimori counters back to his gutbuster! Cover, TWO!! Kushida survives and Ishimori is too sore to be frustrated.
Both men stir but Ishimori stands first. Ishimori drags Kushida back up, underhook, gutbuster! But Kushida makes it the Hoverboard! Kushida pulls on the double wristlock, but Ishimori moves around. Kushida rolls him and wrenches hard! Ishimori endures the twist in his arm, slips out the back, and rolls to fireman’s carry! Death Valley Driver!! But he’s too exhausted to cover! Both men stir and crawl again as fans rally. They get to opposite corners, and Ishimori runs in for a meteora! Ishimori drags Kushida back up, underhoo, but Kushida rolls to hit Back to the Future! But he’s not done there, he wants the sequel! But Ishimori resists, pushes Kushida away, and knee triggers! FAST BALL! Kushida runs, but into double stomps!
Ishimori roars as he drags Kushida back up. He underhooks, BLOODY CROSS!! Cover, Ishimori wins!!
Winner: Taiji Ishimori, by pinfall; NEW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion
The Bone Soldier grabs his first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, and now reigns over the division!
Taiji Ishimori’s backstage interview
“I managed to catch that slippery otter.” And now Belt-san is with him. This must be tearing Kushida up inside. But from now on, as the champion, Ishimori will raise the bar for the NJPW Junior Division. “It’s reborn!” How long will this rebirth of the Junior Heavyweight Championship last?
A pretty good last part to AXS TV’s NJPW Wrestle Kingdom coverage. Of course, they kinda did things backwards. The first part was the big matches, the big finale with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, so readers technically should go backwards with part 3 first, then part 2, then finish with part 1. Either way, the entirety of Wrestle Kingdom 13 was great, even these two opening matches. The trios gauntlet was pretty good for having a couple teams that seemed slapped together. I was really surprised to see it was one of those slapped together teams winning. Toru Yano, Togi Makabe and Ryusuke Taguchi are definitely a fun and funny trio, but I have no idea if they’ll be a match for Ishimori and Guerrillas of Destiny. Granted, Tama Tonga is trying to be a good guy, but on just pure ring skill, he, Loa and Ishimori should win.
And speaking of Ishimori, his match with Kushida was great. This match was so evenly booked that Ishimori came out as a slightly surprising winner. Just as I’d imagine this new Cutthroat Bullet Club keeping the trios titles, Ishimori will likely have the Junior Heavyweight Championship for some time. If Hiromu Takahashi makes a recovery and comeback, he’d be the only one right off the bat who could take the title in a rematch from their amazing Super Juniors match. And it could work for a Bullet Club VS Los Ingobernables de Japon scenario, since LIJ has a lot of the other belts.
My Score: 8.4/10