New Japan gives us four championship matches in England! Can Minoru Suzuki make some history?
The undercard is fairly bland, but we should definitely see some good stuff in all the championship matches.
KENTA is rebelling against New Japan and Shibata, so he really needs to win to continue the story. But the biggest story is that if Minoru Suzuki wins the IWGP Heavyweight, than he is only the third person to pull off the puroresu Hat Trick. That being holding the Triple Crown (AJPW’s Main Title), GHC Heavyweight (NOAH’s Main Title) and the IWGP (if he pulls it off tonight).
The only two people to pull off that feat are Yoshihiro Takayama and Kensuke Sasaki.
Now let’s see how this show goes.
- Ryusuke Taguchi, Ren Narita & Shota Umino vs Rocky Romero, SHO & YOH: SHO wins via Powerbomb onto Knees @8:20 – **
- Yujiro Takahashi & Hikuleo vs Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @8:45 – *
- Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles vs Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo: Ospreay & Eagles win via Red Wing @10:35 – ** 1/2
- SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs Jay White & Chase Owens: SANADA wins via Skull End @13:00 – ***
- IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs Guerrillas of Destiny (c): G.o.D. retain via Super Powerbomb @12:55 – *** 1/2
- NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs KENTA: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @20:15 – *** 3/4 – TITLE CHANGE!!!
- Rev Pro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr (c): Tanahashi wins via High Fly Flow @17:35 – **** 1/4 – TITLE CHANGE!!
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Minoru Suzuki: Okada retains via Rainmaker @33:25 – **** 3/4
Ryusuke Taguchi, Ren Narita & Shota Umino vs Rocky Romero, SHO & YOH – So the FITE stream is god awful. Random signal drops, audio desync, no commentary, you’d think with all of the sports FITE covers, they’d be less garbage. As for the match, it was fine from what I saw that didn’t drop out. SHO and YOH did most of the work, the Young Lions got a few fire spots and we saw Taguchi and a lot of ass based offense. Biggest thing of note is the pop Shota got and the “Shooter” chants that broke out during the match.
Yujiro Takahashi & Hikuleo vs Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson – Now let’s look at this match on paper, shall we? The G1 Winner and someone who will be challenging for the IWGP US Title, against, a lower card tag wrestler and a 7 foot tall Young Lion. Gonna be a nail biter, right? A complete lack of suspension of disbelief, coupled with ongoing FITE issues, really just makes me want to slam my head in a car door. No one is surprised, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. Just wish FITE wasn’t a complete pile of crap.
Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles vs Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo – Commentary starts intermittently working, just in time for Kevin Kelly to start talking about Super J Cup things. Which just further hammers home, how idiotic it was that the Super J Cup wasn’t shown Live. So they’re talking about all these things, that most people haven’t had access to see. Really smart…ugh. This match, was completely ruined by the awful streaming service. The signal completely dropped at a point during the match, audio issues continue to plague this whole show. Could it have been better than what I rated it, yes, it could’ve. But thanks to FITE TV, I only saw a portion of the match. Oh yeah, flippy stuff, tandem flippy stuff, Double Spanish Fly ended the match. God I hate this stream.
SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs Jay White & Chase Owens – Well, just when you think the signal smooths out, nope. We almost got a mostly uninterrupted match, until the entire signal died for 90 seconds. The match was pretty decent around the technical difficulties. Chase keeps trying to figure out the Paradise Lock, while Naito and Jay heat up the tension for their Intercontinental Championship match. Nothing spectacular, unless that happened during the signal death time. But still did a good job at setting up for the title match.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs Guerrillas of Destiny (c) – HEY! The stream stabilized more or less! Aside from a few hiccups I was able to watch this match, mostly unmolested. Aussie Open had a lot of great hope spots. Jado got involved with the kendo stick at pivotal points, which gave the Guerrillas the openings they needed. Mark Davis stood out a bit during this whole thing, since he’s not a small man, and doing a Split Legged Spanish Fly and other Junior style moves, was really quite fun. G.o.D. wins with the Super Powerbomb that Jado and Gedo handed down, but all in all solid. Best match on the show so far, possibly skewed since it’s the first one that could be watched cleanly.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs KENTA – This was a lot of little callbacks to Shibata’s NEVER Openweight title matches. Between the crossed legged sitting in the middle and slapping one another to death, stiff strikes and counters that were purposefully reminiscent of Shibata. Great moment was when Ishii hit the first headbutt and looked to really rock KENTA. KENTA collapsed at the beginning of his Power Slam counter, and he was groggy and on spaghetti legs for the rest of the match. It was either elite level selling, or KENTA will need a few Tylenol, for like a week. KENTA played heel beautifully, G.o.D. showed up towards the end to pull out the referee and give an assist to KENTA. After they hit Magic Killer, Ishii still kicked out. Ishii had a couple moments before eventually falling to the Go 2 Sleep. A few missteps and sloppy counters prevented this from being great, but it was still damn good.
Rev Pro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr (c) – So this starts the way we expect it to. A lot of early mat grappling and counter holds, which Tanahashi looks about a half a step behind. Sabre Jr had a few moments where he looked to have Tanahashi submitted, but no matter the injury, no matter the situation, Tanahashi continues to show the heart that made him so beloved. Sabre gets caught with an Inverted Dragon Screw, Slingblade and then High Fly Flow. The Inverted Dragon Screw seems to be the kryptonite for all members of Suzuki-Gun. Even though some of Tanahashi’s victories have seemed a little forced, this played out well and told a great story. Tanahashi becoming the British champion is also a great usage of the twilight of his main event status.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Minoru Suzuki – Now, their match at The New Beginning in 2017, was one of my favorites of that year. This wasn’t quite as good, but it was still fantastic. There were a few callbacks, I love the hands behind the back strike exchange. Suzuki had a few great moments, he sunk in the Sleeper Hold and Okada’s face turned purple, but Suzuki was never quite able to pull off the Gotch Style Piledriver. The match built correctly as to give the crowd time to recover from the previous match, and it was just all great. Suzuki blocking the Rolling Rainmaker with a Bitch Slap was nice. Hell we even saw Suzuki go for his single leg timed Dropkick, didn’t hit flush, but it was still good enough. Just so many great moments, and this was definitely that type of match that felt like it could go either way.
Overall Score: 5.5/10
You may be saying, “Why the low score”, but you should know why. This is more a reflection of the awful experience trying to watch this show live with FITE TV. Even though the stream did eventually clear up enough by the time the important matches got started, 90 minutes of pain is hard to recover from.
Judging purely off the wrestling and the storylines that were established/extended, the show was more of a 7.5. But I can’t let the awful service off the hook, especially if New Japan continues to use them. This isn’t the first time that FITE has been unreliable, and I doubt it will be the last time.
As for the show, Ospreay and Eagles will challenge for the Junior Tag Titles, Naito and White heat up, all while KENTA starts putting the pieces in place for a big match against Shibata at Wrestle Kingdom. So the show accomplished a few things for the future, but again, the terrible service can’t be unaccounted for.