Andrew’s bringing all of the first Round of the New Japan Cup! That’s what the people want, right?
Well now look at how fancy the New Japan Cup is feeling this year. Allowing other champions to participate and extending the field to 32, since this tournament feeds into the main event slot of G1 Supercard against Jay White.
A few new faces, a few under utilized veterans, New Japan Cup debuts and just a regular smorgasbord of NJPW talent. Sadly for David Finlay, an injury at Honor Rising forced him out of the tournament. So what could’ve been a break out moment for him, instead goes to the master of the Funky Weapon, Ryusuke Taguchi!
Let’s see how the first round panned out!
- YOSHI-HASHI vs Manabu Nakanishi: Yoshi wins via Butterfly Lock @12:25 – *** 1/4
- Taichi vs Tomoaki Honma: Taichi wins via Dragon Sleeper @17:55 – ** 3/4
- Juice Robinson vs Chase Owens: Owens wins via Package Piledriver @24:40 – *** 1/2
- Yuji Nagata vs Tomohiro Ishii: Ishii wins via Vertical Drop Brainbuster @21:40 – **** 1/2
- Lance Archer vs Toa Henare: Archer wins via Blackout @11:15 – ** 1/4
- Hikuleo vs Mikey Ncholls: Nicholls wins via Mikey Bomb @9:00 – * 3/4
- Bad Luck Fale vs Will Ospreay: Ospreay wins via Hurricanrana @11:40 – ***
- Michael Elgin vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @24:10 – **** 1/4
- Ryusuke Taguchi vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan: Taguchi wins via Cradle @12:10 – ** 1/2
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Shota Umino: Tanahashi wins via Texas Cloverleaf @14:45 – *** 3/4
- EVIL vs Zack Sabre Jr: ZSJ wins via Ground Octopus Stretch @15:40 – ****
- Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @20:40 – **** 3/4
- Toru Yano vs Davey Boy Smith Jr: Yano wins via Roll-up @7:25 – * 1/2
- Colt Cabana vs Togi Makabe: Cabana wins via Superman Cradle @5:30 – ** 1/4
- Satoshi Kojima vs Minoru Suzuki: Suzuki wins via Gotch Style Piledriver @13:45 – *** 3/4
- SANADA vs Hirooki Goto: SANADA wins via Moonsault @20:45 – **** 1/4
So now as many know, YOSHI-HASHI is a rolling ball of disappointment, but going against the veteran Nakanishi…he’s got a shot. Nakanishi will be known to some by the name of Kurosawa in WCW. However, he looks much different now and this match was interesting. Nakanishi really fought hard and even dominated a good bit of the match, but YOSHI-HASHI managed to show some resiliency. A match that by most accounts should’ve been a snack break, was a solid venture. Nakanishi tried a Slingshot Plancha to the outside (it sortuv worked) and YOSHI tried to utilize his speed and youth to generate an advantage. Granted, the Butterfly Lock is a very unimpressive maneuver, so that made the finish look a little goofy, but the match was still a solid start to the tournament.
Taichi not only is holding on to Iizuka’s Iron Fingers, but he also did a through the crowd entrance. Honma is still trying to build himself back up after his neck injury, so this is a bigger match for Honma than Taichi. Even though Taichi has established a bad reputation for being lazy, dismissive and generally a heel that Japanese fans can’t tolerate – he’s reduced the irritating aspects of his persona since becoming a heavyweight. Another match that ended up being a little better than expected, with Taichi winning without use of the Iron Fingers and in a different way than usual.
Juice versus Chase was definitely a big surprise. Not just because Chase ended up winning, but the amount of time and how much of a back and forth battle it truly was. My assumption is this was done to set up a US title defense for Juice since it’s fallen into obscurity a little. Damn good match.
Ishii is always good for an old school Strong Style match. Nagata also proved that even at 50, the man can still put on a hell of a match. Ishii busted Nagata’s mouth open in the earlier parts of the match, but this was extremely good. The match remained close and even though most had to assume Ishii was going to win, Nagata made him earn it.
We get an interesting match here. Archer is the obvious favorite, but he’s also never advanced past the first round in all of his previous NJC attempts. So the young Toa Henare had a puncher’s chance at pulling out the upset. Henare caught Archer by surprise with his power on numerous occasions, but Archer was eventually too much. Nothing special, but building more on the Henare character is what this was for.
Mikey Nicholls aka Nick Miller the recently released one half of The Mighty, returns to New Japan against Hikuleo. No offense to Mikey, but Leo is young, pretty green and coming off of injury…so this was the low point of the first round.
Ospreay and Fale put on a decent match. Ospreay worked from underneath because of his rib injury, size difference and Jado interfering. So the way the match was framed was alright, but the Hurricanrana finish was sloppy along with the obvious camera angle showing Fale’s shoulder up…that took the wind right out of the ‘surprise win’.
Another wrestler returning from injury is Michael Elgin. Most of his efforts against Okada are usually stand out matches, and this isn’t any different. Both men also prove their familiarity by stealing moves. Okada does a Buckle Bomb and Elgin Bomb, where Elgin pulls off the Rainmaker. Still unable to overcome the current Ace of New Japan, Elgin falls to a flush Rainmaker. Very good match.
Taguchi, Taguchi, Taguchi. He finds a way to add a unique quirk to all his matches, and this one was Mongolian everything. Tenzan showed a bit of annoyance by copying the way Taguchi throws grounded hip attacks, but it was still amusing. Taguchi kept the match entertaining, especially when he landed a Bumaye. The finish was a cheeky cradle variation where Tenzan kicked out right as the 3 came down.
If you want to see the definition of a star making match, Shota vs Tanahashi is the perfect example. Shota came out firing and really took things to The Ace. Shota even attempted a Cloverleaf Hold to make a point to Tanahashi. The outcome was mathematical, but Tanahashi showed concern during the match, and the crowd bought into near falls, Umino made him earn the win. Shota will be something special.
ZACK SAYBAH TIME! Since EVIL got over the hump by beating Sabre prior to the tag title defense earlier this year, ZSJ wasn’t a lock to win this. EVIL showed great familiarity, the ability to counter a lot of what Zack threw and just maintained the power edge most of the match. EVIL proved he was on a similar level to the submission God, but ZSJ still managed to land and Octopus Hold, bring EVIL to the ground and just stretch him until he tapped. So far this 3rd day is really shaping up to be the best one.
Kota and Naito…well damn. We all had this penciled as the match of Round 1, and it really held up. A few twists on moves (like the Combinación Cabrón on the apron). Words won’t really do it justice. There was a ton of strikes, nice near falls for both wrestlers and that finish…Ibushi basically doing a Tiger Driver ’91 into the Bombaye was just sick. Damn impressive match.
Yano has a tendency to always get a round 1 victory…somehow. He beat Davey Boy last year by count out shenanigans and Suzuki himself doesn’t have a great record against him. So in not a great match, but an entertaining/amusing exchange, Yano edges out DBS with a roll-up.
We got more of a mixed wrestling and comedy match. Not bad for what it was, but it wasn’t a barn burner, more just cute and a little surprising since it sets up a Round 2 match between Yano and Cabana.
Two old rivals, going at it like two people with no love loss. This was a hard hitting affair, with just enough outside Suzuki-Gun stuff to remind you it was a Minoru Suzuki match. Great stuff here, very entertaining and just generally a nice watch. Not quite as balls to the wall Strong Style as Nagata/Ishii, but still damn good.
They did a great job at showcasing how even SANADA and Goto really were. Both had amazing flurries of offense and counters for one another’s signature moves. I really enjoyed the fan survey in the middle of the ring to start with, to see who was more favored. Fans seemed to sway a little towards SANADA, but both got really good reactions.
Round 1 Overall Score: 6.5/10
The matches with the unproven players really did prove the talent gap between the top and bottom. So this wasn’t a bad first round of a tournament since each day’s main event made it all worth it. Day 3 was easily the best day of Round 1.
Let’s remember that this is a further expanded field than usual, so some of these guys were basically given the test drive to larger stages. I’d say everyone performed fairly well, and honestly Hikuleo’s match was the worst, but he’s also the most green of all the participants. So I’d say everyone met their expectations or exceeded them (Nakanishi, Umino and Chase Owens come to mind).
Round 2 Match Ups:
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi
- Chase Owens vs YOSHI-HASHI
- Mikey Nicholls vs Kazuchika Okada
- Will Ospreay vs Lance Archer
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Ryusuke Taguchi
- Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr
- Colt Cabana vs Toru Yano
- Minoru Suzuki vs SANADA
Mitchell’s NJPW Royal Quest II Results & Report! (10/1/22)
NJPW returns to the UK!
NJPW + FTR + UK = A classic in the making!
NJPW returns to the UK, and FTR is coming with them! Cash & Dax defend the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships against the NJPW Strong Tag Team Champions, Aussie Open!
- Gabriel Kidd VS Dan Moloney; wins.
- Great-O-Khan & Gideon Gray VS Michael Oku & Ricky Knight Jr; win.
- Kanji & Jazzy Gabbert VS Alex Windsor & Ava White; win.
- Six Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS Suzuki-Gun; wins.
- Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii VS JONAH & Bad Dude Tito; win.
- 8 Man Tag: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tama Tonga, Hikuleo & Jado VS Bullet Club; win(s).
- IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: FTR VS Aussie Open; wins and
- Will Ospreay VS Shota Umino; wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
[NJPW has scheduled Royal Quest II for “On Demand,” coverage will begin when video is available]
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: FTR VS Aussie Open; wins and
This one has been a long time coming! Music City Mayhem saw the United Empire win a Six Man Tag, but they pinned Alex Zayne. Can Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis beat Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood 2v2? Or will the #ForeverTripleReign continue for the joint ROH, AAA & IWGP Tag Team Champions?
Will Ospreay VS Shota Umino
Speaking of title fights, The Commonwealth Kingpin just retained his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against David Finlay, only to find Tetsuya Naito AND Zack Sabre Jr. are after him! Will Ospreay be able to keep his focus tonight? Or will #SHOOTER hit a bull’s eye and add himself to that title picture?
Mitchell’s NJPW Burning Spirit Results & Report! (9/25/22)
A red hot finale!
There’s even more gold on the line than before!
NJPW finishes Burning Spirit with THREE red hot championship showdowns! Will the Rebel, David Finlay, dethrone the United Empire’s Commonwealth Kingpin, Will Ospreay?
- Six Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS Bullet Club; LIJ wins.
- Toru Yano VS Doc Gallows; Double Count-Out.
- Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb VS Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale; Khan & Cobb win.
- SANADA & Tetsuya Naito VS Dangerous Tekkers; Tekkers win.
- Six Man Tag: Kazuchika Okada, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma VS TMDK; TMDK wins.
- Tama Tonga & Jado VS Jay White & Taiji Ishimori; White & Ishimori win.
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions: TJP & Francesco Akira VS Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato; TJP & Akira win and retain the titles.
- NEVER Openweight Championship: Karl Anderson VS Hiroshi Tanahashi; Anderson wins and retains the title.
- IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay VS David Finlay; Ospreay wins and retains the title.
PLAY BY PLAY
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions: TJP & Francesco Akira VS Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato!
The United Empire took these titles away from Team Six or Nine on the New Japan Road, but Taguchi & Wato have found their road back! Will the Funky Weapon & Way of the Grandmaster be able to return the favor? Or will they fall to the Public Enemy & Nova Fireball?
The introductions are made, the belts are raised, and the rebellion begins!
Teams sort out and Taguchi starts against Akira. They circle and fans rally up. Akira talks some trash on Taguchi but Taguchi tells him to shut up and tag TJP. Akira is upset but he obliges, and TJP steps in. But then Taguchi backs down to tag Wato. Why start this off then? TJP rushes in and runs Wato over! Things speed up and TJP handsprings over Wato to then sidestep and hurdle. Wato leaps over, arm-drags TJP around but TJP headscissors. Wato kips free but TJP gets him for the twisting headscisosrs! Wato headscissors back and holds on tight. TJP headstands and fans applaud as he holds it. TJP then powers free and pats Wato on the knee.
TJP Penalty Kicks but Wato ducks under to roll TJP up. TWO, Wato sweeps the legs to cover, ONE! TJP goes for the sweep but Wato jumps over it, and then Wato pats TJP on the shoulders. Fans applaud and TJP is annoyed. TJP and Wato circle, but then Akira attacks from behind! TJP knocks Taguchi down, the Empire double whip Wato, TJP SOBATS, Akira front KICKS, TJP low KICKS, and Akira SHOTGUNS Wato down! Fans fire up for that speedy combo, and they clap, “A! KI-RA!” “T! J P!” “EM-PIRE!” The Empire double whip, double kick, but Wato ducks they double bulldog to DOUBLE DROPKICK them back!
Taguchi returns, he goes after Akira and Wato hits TJP. They go corner to corner to back elbow TJP and Akira, and then Taguchi sets up for WATO IN MOTION! Taguchi eggs Akira on and Akira rushes in, only for Taguchi to send that dropkick into TJP! Taguchi & Wato double whip Akira, double drop toehold and then double basement dropkick! Fans fire up and Wato stomps TJP down. Wato brings TJP up to scoop and SLAM, then he tags Taguchi. Taguchi gives a point-blank hip! And then another! TJP ends up in a corner and Taguchi gives him a STINK FACE! Taguchi lets off as the ref counts, but he gives more point-blank hips!
Fans rally, Taguchi runs side to side, but TJP gets up and helps Akira RAILGUN DROPKICK Taguchi down! Taguchi flops out of the ring and fans rally up with the Empire. They both run corner to corner to crisscross, TJP WRECKS Taguchi with a dropkick while Akira goes up for a MOONSAULT! Direct hit and Six or Nine are both down! Fans fire up with Akira & TJP and they high-five. The Empire drags Taguchi up, puts him in the ring, and TJP scrapes his sole off Taguchi’s face! The ref reprimands but TJP drags Taguchi up to EuroUpper. Tag to Akira, the Empire double whip Taguchi for a double atomic drop! Cover, TWO!
Akira talks trash on Taguchi and stomps him. Fans rally, Taguchi sits up and CHOPS! And CHOPS! And CHOPS! Akira DECKS Taguchi! Akira bumps Taguchi off buckles, TJP tags in and TJP puts Taguchi up top. TJP drags Taguchi into a Tree of Woe while Akira DECKS Wato. TJP gives Akira a boost up to the top and helps him walk the tightrope for a HALF COAST2COAST! TJP drags Taguchi out of the Tree and to the cover, TWO! Fans rally as Taguchi survives, but TJP puts him in a corner to dig his boot in. TJP fires up the fans as he scrapes Taguchi’s face again and again. TJP runs, but Wato’s back! TJP flips Wato off, but turns around into a HIP ATTACK!
Fans fire up and Taguchi tags in Wato! Wato rallies on TJP, dropkicks Akira down, then KICKS TJP in the chest! And again, and again! TJP ends up in a corner, Wato whips him corner to corner but TJP reverse. Wato comes back to dropkick the legs out! Wato hurries to the corner, and he springboards for a FLYING UPPERCUT! Cover, TWO! TJP survives but Wato fires up! Wato drags TJP into the waistlock, but TJP fights the lift. TJP throws back elbows, runs, Akira tags in. TJP avoids the boot and waistlocks, but Wato moves and Akira’s SUPERKICK hits TJP! Wato then ZIGZAGS Akira down! Cover, TWO!
Fans rally up and Wato calls Taguchi in. They wheelbarrow Akira, but TJP SUPERKICKS Taguchi! Wato gets around but this time TJP ducks and Akira SUPERKICKS Wato! Akira runs, TJP wheelbarrows him, but Wato uses that to hit the COMPLETE SHOT! TJP freaks out and hurries to get Wato up. TJP whips, Wato RANAS him out! Fans fire up with Wato and he drags Akira up. HIGH ANGLE GERMAN SUPLEX! Bridging cover, TWO!! Akira survives but Wato fires up. Fans rally with him and Wato bumps Akira off buckles. Wato hoists Akira up top, CLUBS him, then climbs up after him. Wato hooks Akira up but Akira fights!
Fans rally, TJP CLUBS Wato and moves Akira aside. TJP climbs and lifts Wato in the Electric Chair! Akira springboards up, SUPER DUPER FRANKENSTEINER!! Cover, but Taguchi breaks it in time! Fans fire up and TJP throws Taguchi out. Fans rally, the Empire drags Wato up and resets. Another Electric Chair, Akira goes up top, but Wato fights free! Wato DROPKICKS Akira down! Everyone is down but Taguchi, and Taguchi returns to his corner! Wato crawls over, hot tag to Taguchi! Taguchi hurries to get Akira, but TJP CLUBS Taguchi! TJP climbs up, but Taguchi shoves him down! But Akira shoves Taguchi!
Wato returns, springs up, and he SUPERPLEXES Akira! BUM-A-YE!! Cover, TWO!!! OH MY GAH ANKLE!! Wato TORNILLOS onto TJP! Akira endures the ankle lock, Taguchi really leans on that leg, and fans are thunderous! Akira crawls, reaches, but Taguchi reels him into chicken wings! DODON TO THE THRONE!! Cover, TJP breaks it up!! Fans rally, Taguchi drags TJP up and tosses him out. Wato returns and Six or Nine coordinate. They wheelbarrow Akira, but TJP returns to COMPLETE SHOT Wato first!! And then fireman’s carry on Taguchi! Taguchi slips off, dragon sleepers, but Akira helps TJP up and over!
Akira goes up, DOUBLE STOMP ELBOW DROP DDT!! Cover, TWO!?!? Taguchi survives and the Empire can’t believe it! But they set Taguchi up in the Electric Chair, LEANING TOWER!! Cover, the Empire wins!
Winners: TJP & Francesco Akira, by pinfall (still IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions)
Six or Nine are 0-2 against TJP & Akira! Will Taguchi & Wato have to make the long trek back to the top? Who will the Empire look to conquer next?
NEVER Openweight Championship: Karl Anderson w/ Doc Gallows VS Hiroshi Tanahashi!
The Machinegun shot down the Good Bad Guy to take this title, but he’s been busy in Impact. Now he’s back to defend this title against the Ace of the Universe! Will Anderson take down another target? Or will the Once in a Century Talent make quite the impact himself?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and we see who NEVER gives up!
Fans rally, “Let’s Go, Ace!” for Tanahashi as he circles with Anderson. Anderson calls Gallows over to talk things out and even hug. Anderson and Tanahashi circle and the fans rally again. They tie up, are in a deadlock, but Tanahashi pushes Anderson to ropes. Anderson turns things around but then Tanahashi turns it back. Anderson puts Tanahashi in the corner and Red Shoes calls for the break. Anderson lets off clean and fans applaud. Tanahashi and Anderson circle again, tie up, and Tanahashi waistlocks. Anderson headlocks, Tanahashi slips out the back to get the headlock, but Anderson throws body shots.
Anderson hammerlocks Tanahashi’s arm and then wrenches it to a wristlock. Tanahashi endures, drops to get a leg and he drags Anderson down. Tanahashi floats to a headlock, Anderson slips out to headlock back, but then Tanahashi returns the favor. Anderson slips out again, but then so does Tanahashi. They end up outside the ring and fans applaud as they stare down. They put up their dukes, each daring the other to get in the ring. The ring count starts, Anderson and Tanahashi keep telling the other, “You go!” Anderson suggests they go at the same time, and so they do, at 13 of 20! Fans applaud as the two stand off in the ring now.
Anderson and Tanahashi pace as fans rally up. Anderson kicks but Tanahashi blocks! Tanahashi CLUBS the leg and Anderson goes to a corner. Tanahashi throws body shots. Tanahashi whips but Anderson reverses then runs in, only for Tanahashi to elbow him away. Tanahashi goes up to CROSSBODY! Direct hit and fans fire up for the air guitar. Gallows protests but Tanahashi ignores him to bring Anderson up. Tanahashi throws body shots, whips Anderson to ropes but Anderson reverses, only for Tanahashi to use that to WRECK Gallows with a dropkick! Tanahashi ROCKS Anderson, BOOTS Gallows, but Anderson GUN STUN HOTSHOTS Tanahashi down!
Red Shoes starts a ring count, fans rally up, “Let’s Go, Ace!” and Tanahashi is still down at 10 of 20. Anderson wants to go out but Red Shoes keeps him back. This is all to distract Red Shoes as Gallows APRON CHOKE SLAMS Tanahashi! Tanahashi flops back down to the floor and Gallows acts innocent. Red Shoes can’t call what he didn’t see but he warns Gallows to stay back. Tanahashi stirs as fans rally up, and the ring count restarts. Tanahashi drags himself up at 7 and in at 8, but Anderson is on him! Anderson scoop SLAMS Tanahashi then soaks up the cheers. Anderson runs to SENTON! Cover, TWO!
Fans rally but Anderson is annoyed. Anderson stands on Tanahashi’s face, then lets off to drag Tanahashi into a chinlock. Fans rally, Tanahashi endures, and Anderson grinds the hold. Tanahashi fights up, throws body shots, but Anderson pulls hair! Tanahashi ROCKS Anderson, but Anderson ROCKS Tanahashi. Tanahashi ROCKS Anderson again but Anderson ROCKS Tanahashi again! Fans rally up as the forearms pick up speed! Anderson gets the edge but Tanahashi gives strikes back. Anderson UPPERCUTS Tanahashi, but Tanahashi blocks the kick! DRAGON SCREW! Anderson clutches his knee and fans fire up.
Gallows coaches Anderson up but fans rally for Tanahashi. Tanahashi throws forearms on Anderson, whips him to ropes, but Anderson reverses. Tanahashi hits FLYING FOREARMS! Fans fire up, Tanahashi storms up on Anderson and he throws body shots. Tanahashi scoops and SLAMS Anderson, then goes to the corner. Tanahashi hops up for a SUNSET SENTON! Direct hit and a cover, TWO! Fans rally but Gallows gets on the apron. Tanahashi grabs Gallows’ leg and hits a DRAPING DRAGON SCREW! Gallows shouts in pain as he flops down. Tanahashi runs but into a SPINEBUSTER! Cover, TWO!
Anderson hurries to fireman’s carry Tanahashi! T K O!! Cover, TWO!! Fans fire up as Tanahashi survives! Anderson shouts at Gallows to get up but fans are rallying for Tanahashi. Anderson walks around, he pounds the mat and fans clap along. Tanahashi stirs, Anderson takes aim, GUN- NO, Tanahashi trips Anderson and gets a leg, GROUND DRAGON SCREW! And then an INVERTED GROUND DRAGON SCREW!! Anderson clutches his leg, but Tanahashi gets both legs for the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF!! Anderson endures, Gallows pushes the rope closer, but Red Shoes kicks at Gallows! Anderson crawls forward and reaches out, but Tanahashi drags him away!
Anderson endures as Tanahashi sits deep, but Gallows gets on the apron to distract Red Shoes! Red Shoes misses the tap out!! Toru Yano runs in from Japanese commentary! He trips Gallows and they brawl! Nothing was settled earlier tonight, but Gallows DECKS Yano! Tanahashi lets Anderson go, the Texas Cloverleaf meaning nothing now. GUN- NO! Tanahashi denies Anderson again! Tanahashi then dodges the lariat to run and SLINGBLADE! Cover, TWO! Tanahashi fires up, goes to the corner and climbs up, and Anderson stands. HIGH FLY ATTACK! Tanahashi fires up more and returns to the top rope!
Gallows distracts again but Yano trips him up again! Tanahashi aims and leaps, HIGH FLY FLOW onto knees!! Cover, TWO!?!? Tanahashi survives the turn around and Anderson clutches his knees. Gallows RAMS Yano into railing! Fans are thunderous for “LET’S GO, ACE!” as Anderson gets to a corner. Tanahashi stands, runs at Anderson but misses! Anderson JUMP KICKS, but his legs are hurting him! Anderson waits on Tanahashi, but still no Gun Stun! Tanahashi tries to steal but Anderson pushes him away! Gallows trips Tanahashi up but Tanahashi kicks him away. GUN- NO!! Tanahashi blocks again, but Anderson slips out of Twist ‘n’ Shout! GUN STUN!!! Cover, Anderson wins!!
Winner: Karl Anderson, by pinfall (still NEVER Openweight Champion)
The Machinegun had Big LG helping him out, and Gallows beats up on Yano for good measure! But wait, here come Jay White & Gedo! The IWGP World Heavyweight Champion and his Blacksmith are here to celebrate with the Good Brothers. White tells the Young Lions to get out of the ring so it can be Bullet Club standing over Tanahashi & Yano. Bullet Club Too Sweets, then they stomp away on The Ace & Producer! Young Lions try to stop this but they get beat up for it. Wait! Here comes TAMA TONGA! The Good Bad Guy CLOBBERS White! And Anderson! And SUPER FOREARMS Gallows! Fans fire up with Tama!
Tama sees White all alone now, and he said he’s told White already. Tama’s gonna kick White’s ass! But White is begging for mercy. Just look! It’s HIKULEO! Tama’s younger brother is storming into the ring! Tama and Hiku stare down, and White grins as he stands with the towering Tongan. “I’M his family now! It’s all about this! Bullet Club is his family!” NOT! Hiku choke grips White! And feeds him to a GUN STUN!!! Bullet Club isn’t family! Family is family! Tama and Hiku hug and the fans love it! The Guerrillas of Destiny have grown stronger now, and Tama has the belt! Tama gets the NEVER Openweight belt, too, and he holds it out to Hiku!
Fans fire up as Hiku holds up Anderson’s belt, and Tama holds up White’s belt! Will we see GoD dethrone the Bullet Club as they make their Declaration of Power?
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay w/ The United Empire VS David Finlay!
The Commonwealth Kingpin was among many of the shocking upset wins The Rebel pulled off in this year’s G1 Climax. They’ve gone back and forth, in the ring and on the mic, and now they’ll finally settle this! Will the United Empire sweep the night to still reign supreme? Or can the rebellion still come away with a victory?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and after a long, hard road, we see who burns brightest in this Burning Spirit finale!
The two rush each other at the bell and the forearms fly fast and furious! Fans fire up, Finlay gets the edge, then he whips. Ospreay reverses, Finlay ducks the boot but things speed up. Finlay hurdles, hurdles and DROPKICKS! Finlay clotheslines Ospreay out of the ring, then he PLANCHAS! Direct hit and down goes Ospreay! Finlay says it was “that easy,” and then he whips Ospreay into railing! Ospreay bounces off the steel and Finlay fishhooks his face! Finlay dares Ospreay to talk trash now, then CLUBS him down. Red Shoes reprimands and Finlay apologizes, only to whip Ospreay hard into more railing!
Finlay has his shillelagh as he stalks Ospreay around the way. Red Shoes reprimands and tells Finlay to put the shillelagh down. Ospreay mule kicks Finlay first! Ospreay CLUBS Finlay, puts the shillelagh aside and ROCKS Finlay in the mouth! Ospreay whips, Finlay reverses but Ospreay leaps the railing! Finlay runs in, Ospreay ROCKS him then clears off the timekeeper’s table. To pick it up and CHUCK it at Finlay! Finlay and the table go down in a heap and fans fire up for that innovative savagery. Ospreay storms over to Finlay, Abe-san at least gets the mic, bell and hammer, and Ospreay stands the table up.
Ospreay drags Finlay but Finlay has hold of another table. Ospreay whips Finlay into railing now, and he sets up the other table Finlay brought. The tables are put side by side, but Finlay throws body shots! Ospreay ROCKS Finlay, and then reels him in! Ospreay aims for the tables but Finlay fights free! Finlay RAMS Ospreay so hard into the railing, Finlay tumbles into No Man’s Land. Finlay puts Ospreay in the ring, fans rally up, but Ospreay FLAPJACK HOTSHOTS! And BOOTS Finlay down! Fans fire up while Ospreay clutches his back. Ospreay drags Finlay up, CLUBS him on the back, and has him in a corner for hard body shots!
Finlay sputters but Ospreay brings Finlay up for another hard shot! Ospreay stands on Finlay at the ropes, stomps him, but Red Shoes counts. Ospreay springboards for a knee drop! Cover, ONE! Finlay shows heart and fans cheer but Ospreay is annoyed. Ospreay bumps Finlay off buckles, stands Finlay up, and CHOPS him! Finlay staggers then drops to his knees while fans applaud the echo on that one. Ospreay stands Finlay up but Finlay throws CHOPS back! Ospreay CHOPS Finlay off his feet, covers, TWO! Ospreay drags Finlay around to omoplata the arm, and he throws elbows into the sides. Ospreay hooks Finlay’s arm for a RECLINER! It’s a cover, ONE!!
Finlay clutches his arm but Ospreay snarls as he stalks Finlay to ropes. Finlay throws body shots but Ospreay DECKS him with a right. Ospreay reels Finlay in for a cobra twist! Finlay endures but Ospreay throws in elbows. Ospreay puts more pressure on the hold but Finlay endures as fans rally. Finlay powers up to hip toss free! Finlay fires forearms on Ospreay but Ospreay SOBATS. Ospreay reels Finlay in but Finlay back drops him away! Fans fire up and Finlay goes to a corner. Finlay runs in and CLOBBERS Ospreay with forearm after forearm! Finlay whips, Ospreay reverses but Finlay CLOBBERS Ospreay again!
Ospreay goes to a corner, Finlay runs in and UPPERCUTS! Finlay shoves Ospreay out and goes up to FLYING UPPERCUT! Cover, TWO! Finlay is annoyed but he pushes Ospreay around. Fans rally, Finlay reels Ospreay in and snap suplexes! Cover, TWO! Finlay facelocks to grind Ospreay down but Ospreay fights up. Finlay clinches, Ospreay throws elbows but Finlay still lifts! Ospreay stops that with a facelock and they end up on the ropes. Red Shoes counts the break, Finlay KNEES Ospreay low again and again! Red Shoes reprimands, Finlay whips but Ospreay handsprings to NEURALIZER! Fans fire up while both men are down!
Fans rally as Ospreay sits up. Finlay crawls to a corner and staggers up. Ospreay SOBATS and Finlay drops to a knee. Ospreay whips Finlay to the corner hard and then RAMS Finlay in the other corner! Finlay falls down but Ospreay drags Finlay up. Ospreay scoops for a RUNNING BACKBREAKER! Cover, TWO! Fans rally as Finlay hangs tough. Ospreay paces around, drags Finlay up again and reels him in. Finlay fights the lift, Ospreay CLUBS him then gives him Kowata Kicks! But Finlay still fights the lift! Finlay back drops, Ospreay sunset flips but Finlay rolls through to BASEMENT EUROUPPER! Fans rally as Ospreay goes to a corner.
Finlay runs in but Ospreay BOOTS him away! Ospreay runs, into a BLUE THUNDER BOMB from Finlay! Cover, TWO! Finlay grits his teeth and fans rally up again. Finlay drags Ospreay up, fires off forearms, and Ospreay wobbles around. Finlay puts Ospreay up top, climbs up and throws headbutts. Finlay then brings Ospreay up, but Ospreay throws body shots! Ospreay HEADBUTTS Finlay down and fans rally up again. Ospreay stands but Finlay trips him up! Finlay climbs up after Ospreay but from the outside! Finlay clinches and aims at the tables! Ospreay fights back and now he aims for the tables!
Red Shoes tells them not to but the two brawl up top. They both hop down, Finlay ROCKS Ospreay, then ROCKS him again. Ospreay ROCKS Finlay, Finlay hits back, and fans rally as the forearms fly again. Ospreay gets the edge, and he HOTSHOTS Finlay off the crossbar! Ospreay leaps to sunset flip right over Finlay! Ospreay brings Finlay around for an APRON POWERBOMB! Ospreay then sets up on the other corner, for a SKY TWISTER!! Direct hit and down goes Finlay! Fans fire up while both men are down! Red Shoes checks on them and they’re both okay to continue. Ospreay gets up and brings Finlay around the way.
Ospreay smacks Finlay off the table, and again. Finlay grabs his shillelagh! Finlay blocks the table bump this time, to SMACK Ospreay’s fingers!! Ospreay scrambles away and Finlay kisses the shillelagh for helping out. Finlay then pursues Ospreay, keeps him from returning to the ring, and he wrenches the bad arm to SLAM the hand on the railing! And on the apron! Ospreay clutches his fingers but Finlay grabs the arm to put it through railing! Finlay BENDS the fingers against the railing! Red Shoes counts, Finlay lets off at 4, and Ospreay is clutching his hand in pain. Finlay just STOMPS the hand!
Red Shoes reprimands but Finlay puts Ospreay in the ring. Finlay stomps Ospreay’s bad hand again! And again! Ospreay shouts in pain but Finlay brings him up. Ospreay throws body shots but swings into a takedown! Finlay throws knee after knee into Ospreay’s side, then he gets the bad arm for a FUJIWARA ARMBAR! Finlay bends the fingers as part of it! Ospreay endures and the Empire coaches him up but Finlay pushes way back on the hold! Ospreay moves around, and gets a ROPEBREAK with a foot! Finlay lets off and Ospreay goes to the apron. Finlay stands on Ospreay’s head but lets off to bring Ospreay up.
Finlay bends the fingers on the bad hand! Ospreay throws forearms but Finlay just BITES the bad fingers! And SNAPS them! Finlay runs, into a Tiger Wall Kick and ENZIGURI! The legs still work! Finlay staggers back to a corner and Ospreay clutches his tortured hand again. Ospreay signals to the Empire to get something. Gideon Grey finds spare tape and Cobb POPS Ospreay’s fingers in place! Gideon and Cobb wrap up the bad fingers while Ospreay bites his other hand to endure the pain. Gideon finishes wrapping the fingers, but Finlay puts Ospreay on the apron! Ospreay ROCKS Finlay, springboards, but into the IRISH CURSE BACKBREAKER! Cover, TWO!
Ospreay survives and he’s again holding his bad hand. Fans fire up with Finlay as he cravats. But no Acid Drop, Ospreay puts Finlay on the apron to GAMANGIRI! Fans rally as Ospreay goes out to join Finlay. Ospreay brings Finlay up but he can’t lift Finlay because of the bad hand. Ospreay fires off Kowata Kicks again, calls his shot, but even clapping his hands hurts like hell! Finlay reels Ospreay in for an APRON HALF ‘N’ HALF! Fans fire up as Finlay sees the tables nearby. Finlay brings Ospreay up to line up a shot. Finlay goes up the corner, ACID DROP onto the tables!! But the tables don’t break and both men just bounce off!!
Fans are thunderous as Red Shoes checks both men. Somehow, Ospreay and Finlay are okay to continue. Finlay rises first and he staggers around. Finlay shakes out his head, he resets the tables and he drags Ospreay up. POWERBOMB through the tables!! Finlay gets in the ring to leave Ospreay in the wreckage. Finlay wants the count out and Red Shoes starts the ring count. Gideon checks on Ospreay, coaches him up, but we’re at 10 of 20. And then 15! Ospreay grits his teeth and growls as he crawls, but we’re at 18! Ospreay springs in at 19, into a SPEAR!! Finlay hurries to ACID DROP!! Cover, TWO!??!
Ospreay survives and Finlay is furious! But the fans are thunderous as this one continues! Finlay slashes his throat and drags Ospreay up. Finlay tries to suplex but Ospreay’s dead weight. Finlay gives him those Kowata Kicks in return! Finlay taunts Ospreay and fans rally up. Finlay drags Ospreay up but Ospreay feebly forearms him. Finlay DECKS Ospreay, and Ospreay mumbles and groans as he sits back up. Ospreay throws another weak forearm, but Finlay UPPERCUTS him. Ospreay grits his teeth and fires up to ROCK Finlay! Finlay EuroUppers over and over and over! And then he CLOBBERS Ospreay!
Ospreay sits up in a daze but Finlay suplexes! But Osprey cradles, TWO!! Finlay swings, into a backslide! TWO, and Finlay jumps, but no Prima Nocta! Ospreay spins Finlay around to GHOST PIN! TWO!! Finlay gets up, but Ospreay ROUNDHOUSES him! Ospreay springboards, but Finlay catches the cutter to an inverted suplex! OSAKA STREET CUTTER!! Finlay fires up, runs, but into a STANDING SPANISH FLY!! Cover, TWO!! Finlay survives but Ospreay prepares the arm! HIDDEN- NO! BACKSLIDE! Ospreay rolls through but Finlay suplexes, TRASH PANDA!!! Cover, ROPEBREAK!!! Red Shoes apologizes for not seeing it in time but that was a legit ropebreak!
Finlay is beside himself but the fans are thunderous! Finlay drags Ospreay back up, suplexes, but Ospreay slips out! HIDDEN BLADE!!! But both men are down as we pass 25 minutes! Fans are thunderous again as Ospreay crawls his way back over to Finlay. A standing count begins but both men are down at 5! They get forehead to forehead and give junkyard dog headbutts. They go back and forth like that, and even at the same time! Finlay throws a forearm, Ospreay gives it back and fans fire up! Ospreay and Finlay stand, and now it’s fast and furious haymakers! Ospreay ROCKS Finlay, DOUBLE LARIATS hit, Ospreay swats another to HOOK KICK!
Finlay wobbles, Ospreay runs in, but Finlay ducks the Hidden Blade! Ospreay comes back, he slips through Finlay’s clothesline to lift and- RANA from Finlay!! Cover, TWO!!! Ospreay escapes and fans are electric! Ospreay dodges Finlay, springboards, but into a PRIMA NOCTA!! Cover, TWO!?!? Ospreay survives but Finlay just roars! Fans rally with Finlay and he drags Ospreay up. ACID- NO, Ospreay throws him away, goes up and up, SUPER OSCUTTER!!! But Ospreay holds on and says he’s not done! Underhooks and- NO, Finlay fights it, so Ospreay PEDIGREES! AND POINT BLANK HIDDEN BLADES!!! Cover, TWO!??!?! WHAT??!!
Ospreay is furious! He underhooks again, lifts and STORMBREAKER!!! Cover, Ospreay wins!!!
Winner: Will Ospreay, by pinfall (still IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion)
That was a 28 minute, 22 second WAR, but the Commonwealth Kingpin managed to conquer The Rebel! Finlay came so close to taking this title, but he’s still not quite there yet. Will Finlay be able to fight his way back up and try again before the year is out?
As for Ospreay, the Empire sets up in the ring to celebrate with their leader. Ospreay has the belt around his waist as Great-O-Khan waves the Empire’s banner behind him. But wait! Tetsuya Naito makes his way out! Fans applaud and Ospreay has the rest of the Empire stand down. Naito assures them he’s not here to fight, and they let him into the ring. Ospreay even allows Naito to have the mic first. Khan holds the mic out but just drops it at Naito’s feet. Naito picks it up to tell Ospreay, in English, “Congratulations~!” Then in Japanese, Naito says, “You know why I’m out here.” And back in English, “One more time. Naito VS Ospreay.” What’s “Mr. Ospreay” say? Is it yes or no?
Naito then hands the mic to Ospreay, but then “OI OI OI OI!” Zack Sabre Jr. makes his way out! Naito is surprised, the fans are excited, but Ospreay & The Empire are pissed! ZSJ keeps shouting, “OI!” as he goes down the ramp and into the ring. ZSJ snatches the mic from Ospreay to say “OI OI OI OI!” some more. In Japanese, “Choto matte <Wait a moment.>” ZSJ addresses Naito first. “Does this head work?” Naito’s going to challenge Ospreay for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship? “Naze? <Why?>” Naito didn’t win today! And he didn’t win against Ospreay in the G1! Ospreay agrees but he doesn’t like ZSJ defending him. He grabs for the mic but ZSJ stops him.
ZSJ admits, Naito beat him in the G1 Climax, but then “this dickhead” beat Naito. But then ZSJ beat “this dickhead” in the New Japan Cup. That means ZSJ should be the next challenger! Naito says no, Ospreay again wants the mic, but ZSJ says “OI OI OI OI.” ZSJ says he has an idea. NJPW will be in England next week for Royal Quest II! So it should be ZSJ VS Naito 1v1, to name the #1 contender to the US Championship! “Dou desu ka? <How about that?>” Naito considers it but then Ospreay grabs the mic! Only for Naito to snatch it away! Ospreay’s so mad while Naito stares ZSJ down. But then Naito turns to Ospreay with a smile. “Amigo… Hasta luego. <Friend… See you later.>”
Naito drops the mic and leaves, but he didn’t really answer anything! ZSJ pursues Naito to ask him about the challenge for Royal Quest! Ospreay then picks the mic up to ask WTF was that! Both Naito and ZSJ are challenging for Ospreay’s title? Khan says that seems to be the case. Ospreay looks to the crowd and shrugs as if to ask them now. “Hey, whichever one it is. If it’s Naito, or if it’s Zack Sabre Jr, it doesn’t matter. Ospreay is best champion.” Fans applaud that. Ospreay then puts on the United Empire merch shirt, and they all stand together again.
Khan gets the mic to say, “Do those fools think they can ruin our moment? They’ll do anything to bore the lot of you. We won’t stand for it. Those scumbags crawled all the way out here, to beg and grovel for a chance at Ospreay’s belt. Don’t get it twisted: It’s Ospreay, the champion, who has the right to pick a challenger! It’s us, the United Empire, who call the shots around here! And now, hail us, loyal subjects!” Fans applaud, and Khan says they have conquered Kobe. “Therefore, show us your allegiance! Show your imperial pride! CROWNS UP!” The Empire throws up their hand sign, but Khan demands more fans do the same!
More fans do as they’re told, and that’s satisfactory for Khan. Have they also done their duty and bought an Empire shirt? If not, it’s probably because they’re sold out. Just get your acts together. The Empire has the IWGP Junior Heavyweight and US Heavyweight titles, so the world title is inevitable! They’ll go to the homeland of Gideon Grey & Will Ospreay, where Aussie Open will “execute” FTR and take the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships! “Attention! We are Gideon Grey, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, Francesco Akira, TJP, and Will Ospreay! This is the power of the UNITED EMPIRE!” There’s so much gold in their treasury, will the United Empire soon conquer ALL of NJPW?
A great event to close out Burning Spirit, even with titles maintaining a status quo. Great Junior Heavyweight Tag title match, but I had a feeling on Friday that that match was going to go the Empire’s way. TJP & Akira are now open to taking on any number of Face teams, especially with Super Junior Tag League joining World Tag League for the Winter. Anderson VS Tanahashi was great stuff, even with Gallows getting involved. Tanahashi losing was a bit of a surprise, but the bigger surprise was Hikuleo leaving Bullet Club to side with his brothers in GoD. Hikuleo can definitely challenge for the NEVER Openweight title but I’m not sure his chances of winning. White VS Tama will also be awesome but I can’t be sure if Tama wins, knowing that Okada is challenging at WrestleKingdom.
And we got an awesome main event with the US Championship. Ospreay and Finlay stepped it up from their G1 Climax match, and that stuff with the tables was rough. I did like that they took finger snapping to another level and had Ospreay have to pop his fingers back into place and wrap them up. Ospreay winning was a small surprise as I thought this was going to be Finlay’s moment. But we do get a big story going into Royal Quest and Declaration of Power. Ospreay may not want it but I bet we will get Naito VS ZSJ at Royal Quest, the winner challenging Ospreay down the line. And whether it’s Naito or ZSJ, the winner will give Ospreay an awesome title match.
My Score: 8.8/10
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