AXS has more of NJPW’s trip to the UK!
And while in jolly ol’ England, the British Heavyweight Championship is on the line! Will Zack Sabre Jr. make Hiroshi Tanahashi #JustTapOut?
Coverage of NJPW Royal Quest will be as broadcast by AXS TV
- NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii VS KENTA; KENTA wins and becomes the new NEVER Openweight Champion.
- Revolution Pro Wrestling British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. VS Hiroshi Tanahashi; Tanahashi wins and becomes the new RPW British Heavyweight Champion.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the scene for this second part of the Royal Quest!
Two titles are tested in the Copper Box! First, the UNDISPUTED British Heavyweight Champion, Zack Sabre Jr, has been record-setting in his third reign, which included a major win in Madison Square Garden against Hiroshi Tanahashi. However, the Ace came back and beat ZSJ in the G1 Climax and in tag team action. Will Tanahashi take the title from ZSJ in his homeland? Or will ZSJ once again make the Once in a Century Talent #JustTapOut?
Meanwhile, the Stone Pitbull was stunned when the newcomer to NJPW betrayed him to join Bullet Club! But Tomohiro Ishii isn’t one to sulk, he’s one to get even! With the NEVER Openweight Championship on the line, Ishii looks to make Kenta pay for his treachery! But will the Bullet Club’s newest member take a bite out of the big dog in the yard? Or will the #FangRevived chip itself on Ishii’s rock-solid resolve?
NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii VS KENTA!
Chaos and Bullet Club seem to be forever fighting against each other. Will the Stone Pitbull grind Kenta into dust on Shibata’s behalf? Or will everyone finally see the true Kenta?
The introductions are made, Ishii and Kenta stare forehead to forehead, but back off long enough for the belt to be raised. Fans are strongly behind Ishii even before the bell, and are chanting “F him up, Ishii, f him up!” as we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns with the bell. Kenta slips out of the ring and fans boo. Ishii stays back so Kenta slowly returns. Kenta and Ishii tie up, and Ishii digs in his heels to push Kenta back. Fans rally as they end up on the ropes, and Ishii lets up. He gives Kenta a pat on the shoulder, but Kenta SLAPS Ishii! Then he bails out right away to avoid retaliation. Fans boo as Kenta takes his time returning. Ishii waits patiently and fans rally up. Kenta waits them out before going back in. But then he slips right back out, taunting Ishii now. Ishii runs in and gets tripped up! But the brawl is on now! Ishii puts Kenta in as fans actually start dueling. Kenta boots back then snapmares to a kick, but Ishii is right up! Kenta and Ishii throw forearms back and forth, fast and furious already! Kenta mule kicks but Ishii CHOPS. Kenta boots but Ishii runs him over!
Ishii looms over Kenta and brings him up in a corner. Ishii CHOPS, CHOPS and CHOPS! But Kenta just takes them! He even walks into them! Kenta turns things around to throw furious forearms, but Ishii stands up! Ishii CHOPS Kenta again, but the ref has them break up. Ishii whips Kenta corner to corner but Kenta boots him back. Kenta hops up, tornado hotshot! Ishii staggers as Kenta climbs, Kenta hits a flying clothesline! Kenta looms over Ishii now, then brings Ishii up for stiff kicks to the chest! Ishii falls over, and Kenta stands on him at the ropes. The ref counts while fans boo, and Kenta backs off. Ishii sits up but Kenta drags up to whip. Kenta runs Ishii over with an elbow, covers, TWO! Kenta keeps on Ishii with a chinlock. Fans cuss Kenta out but Kenta just kicks Ishii for it. Kenta kicks Ishii more, then shouts at the fans.
Kenta goes back to Ishii, but Ishii headbutts from the mat! Kenta clubs him down but Ishii eggs him on. Kenta kicks Ishii and eggs him on. Ishii throws hands but gets a big kick! Kenta drags Ishii up to snapmare back down, and drop a knee. And another knee! And then Kenta jumps, to scuff Ishii’s face. Kenta doesn’t care what fans think as he brings Ishii up. Kenta turns Ishii for a neckbreaker then covers, TWO! Fans still cheer and duel as Kenta toys with Ishii now. Kenta eggs the fans on as he keeps toying with Ishii. Ishii snarls but Kenta kicks him in the chest. Ishii just gets mad! Ishii takes more kicks to his chest and shakes his head. This only fires him up! Kenta kicks but gets blocked! Ishii waistlocks but Kenta powers out, only to run into a powerslam! Fans cheer as both men are down!
Ishii stands first and looms over Kenta. He brings Kenta to a corner to CHOP! And forearm, and CHOP, repeat! Kenta starts dropping but Ishii stands him up to keep going! The ref shouts at Ishii but fans are loving this! The ref pulls Ishii off but Ishii shoves him aside! Ishii brings Kenta back up to whip, but Kenta reverses, only for Ishii to come back out and run him over! Now Ishii toys with Kenta, but Kenta stands up to SLAP Ishii. ishii wants more so Kenta keeps slapping. They brawl again with big forearms and elbows! Every time Kenta hits, Ishii comes right back! Kenta, Ishii, Kenta, Ishii, there’s no stopping them! Ishii wobbles, and Kenta keeps on him! But Ishii fires off one-two elbows, only to run into a LARIAT! Both men are down again as NJPW goes to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Kenta rises. Fans rally as Kenta rolls out of the ring. Ishii stirs but Kenta climbs. Kenta springboards to missile dropkick Ishii down! Then corner to corner for a boot! Then side to side for THE soaring dropkick! Kenta climbs again, but Ishii gets clear of the stops. Ishii side steps in the corner but Kenta blocks the enziguri! Kenta kicks away on Ishii’s back and stomps him even at the ropes! Kenta backs off but returns, he drags Ishii out on ropes for the draping DDT! Fans boo and jeer as Kenta drags Ishii up to a fireman’s carry. Ishii resists, knowing Kenta wants his original move. So Kenta just swiftly KICKS Ishii in the chest! Kenta wants the fans to boo and jeer as he boots Ishii. But Ishii stays up! Kenta tries again, Ishii comes back, only to get a Snap German! But he’s right up again to give Kenta a Snap German!
Kenta spins but the clothesline does nothing! Ishii headbutts, and Kenta is out on his feet! Kenta flops over and Ishii brings him up for more headbutts! Ishii runs, but Kenta boots again! Kenta runs, but into Ishii’s lariat! Kenta gets up to start throwing palm strikes, but his roundhouse misses to get DECKED by a right! Ishii falls back, too, but fans cheer this evenly matched battle! Ishii gets up and gets Kenta back to his feet. Ishii slaps Kenta around, then runs, but into another LARIAT! Fans are rallying again as Kenta climbs the corner a third time. Kenta leaps, double stomps!! Cover, TWO!! Ishii survives Kenta’s coup de grace! Fans cheer as Kenta slashes the throat. Kenta drags Ishii up, fireman’s carry, but Ishii fights out to a dragon sleeper! But Kenta spins through, only for Ishii to suplex. But Kenta turns to avoid the brain buster, only to still take a nasty fall!
The referee checks on Kenta but he’s somehow okay. Ishii drags Kenta up to CHOP again. And kick and boot and slap, too! Ishii eggs Kenta on but Kenta eggs Ishii on. So Ishii sits with Kenta a la Shibata! They slap and slap and slap! Ishii wobbles, but SLAPS back! Kenta sways, but SLAPS Ishii! Ishii still slaps Kenta, but Kenta still slaps Ishii. And they spark again! The fans cheer as both men SLAP each other! Ishii and Kenta lean on each other, but they stay up. Kenta drags Ishii up to a sleeper, but Ishii holds on as fans duel. Kenta lets up to Penalty Kick, but it’s blocked! Kenta slaps away on Ishii but it does nothing! Ishii DECKS Kenta! Ishii wants Kenta to stand up, and he does. Ishii runs, LARIAT! Cover, TWO!! Kenta still lives but Ishii vows to end this.
But wait, here comes Bullet club! Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa first, but Ishii goes after them! Ishii gets caught but fights free, to then spin Loa around for a big suplex! Tama gets blasted off the apron, and the Pitbull finds Kenta. Ishii drags Kenta up, suplex, BRAIN BUSTER!! Cover, but the Guerrillas drag the referee right out of the ring! Tama and Loa mug Ishii, but Ishii fights the off again! He shoves Tama into Loa, but runs into a scoop! POWERSLAM! Tama and Loa get Ishii back up, Guerrilla Warfare! Their take on Magic Killer takes Ishii down, then Kenta covers. The ref is thrown back in, he counts, TWO!?! Ishii survives and it shocks everyone! The Copper Box is thunderous as this match continues!
Kenta drags Ishii up and wraps the sleeper hold back on. But Ishii fights his way up and throws big hands to get free. Kenta SLAPS Ishii, then SLAPS him again. A third SLAP, but Ishii ducks the kick to headbutt! Ishii clobbers Kenta, but Kenta comes back with a BIG right hand! Cover, TWO!! Ishii survives the knockout blow, but Kenta vows to end this! Fireman’s carry, GO TO SLEEP!! Cover, Kenta wins!
Winner: KENTA, by pinfall; NEW NEVER Openweight Champion
The true Kenta will have to thank his new friends for this one, because the GoD helped out big time. But the Bullet Club still gets a new belt in their collection either way. How long will Kenta have this title when it is literally open to everyone in NJPW?
Revolution Pro Wrestling British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. VS Hiroshi Tanahashi!
Suzuki-Gun has had history with the Once in a Century Talent for what feels like forever. Now it is the Submission Master who fights the Ace, but in his hometown! Will ZSJ remain a proud British champion? Or will not even home field advantage matter against the talent of Tanahashi?
ZSJ gets up in Tanahashi’s face, literally rubbing the belt in Tanahashi’s face. He backs off while introductions are made, the belt is raised, and this incredible crossover match begins!
Fans are naturally cheering ZSJ as much as they are Tanahashi. ZSJ and Tanahashi circle and feel out the grapple. ZSJ is feeling cocky in his hometown, but Tanahashi keeps his focus. They keep going around the ring before they tie up. Tanahashi gets the leg but ZSJ gets a headlock. Tanahashi reverses but so does ZSJ but then Tanahashi, ZSJ, repeat! The two break and stand off, fans cheer as the air guitar is played. Tanahashi and ZSJ circle as the “Go Ace!” chants start to echo out. ZSJ and Tanahashi tie up with a knuckle lock, ZSJ bridges and slips around to get Tanahashi in the straitjacket! ZSJ pulls Tanahashi back and digs his forehead into Tanahashi’s back. Tanahashi turns things around and has ZSJ in the straitjacket! ZSJ powers up and out but Tananashi powers through to keep the hold on ZSJ. ZSJ stands and uses his legs to undo the hold, and fans cheer the technical exchange. However, Tanahashi doesn’t like ZSJ mocking the air guitar.
Tanahashi and ZSJ circle around the ring again as fans still sing and duel. ZSJ and Tanahashi tie up, ZSJ spins and wrenches to a wristlock, then again. Tanahashi returns the wristlock and wrings ZSJ out but ZSJ rolls up to his feet. The two go around again, tie up, and ZSJ headlocks. Tanahashi powers out, but ZSJ grabs the nose! The ref reprimands ZSJ but Tanahashi bends ZSJ back. ZSJ bridges, spins, and trips Tanahashi up to a toehold! Fans cheer as ZSJ goes after the bad leg, but Tanahashi pops out to get ZSJ’s leg. Fans cheer for Red Shoes and his ability to keep up with both men, and Red Shoes takes a quick bow. ZSJ is not happy with that as he rolls back and around. Tanahashi has the leg still, and trips ZSJ up to then sit down for a deep toehold. ZSJ grabs at Tanahashi with a chinlock, then a chinbar, but he can’t do much that way.
Tanahashi ties up the legs for a butterfly stretch! ZSJ fights back but Tanahashi grabs the arms. Tanahashi stands with the legs still locked. Fans rally as Tanahashi bridges back! Full wrestler’s bridge as he goes no-hands! ZSJ bridges back to undo the pressure, and matches no-hands for no-hands! So Tanahashi adds his legs for torque! Both men stop bridging as Tanahashi gets back at ZSJ. ZSJ gets the ropebreak and Tanahashi lets him go. The two men get up and Tanahashi throws forearms. Tanahashi scoop slams ZSJ in the drop zone then hops up. Second rope somersault FLOPS! ZSJ has the arm, hammerlocks it, and tweaks it! Tanahashi writhes while ZSJ sits back to recover. Fans rally as ZSJ keylocks and stomps Tanahashi’s arm! ZSJ keeps on Tanahashi with a mounted armlock. He pulls the fingers for a full crank! Fans sing as Tanahashi endures, but ZSJ hammerlocks and stomps the arm again!
ZSJ walks around Tanahashi and gives toying kicks. Tanahashi gets mad and glares, but ZSJ keeps kicking him. “Go Ace!” echoes out as ZSJ keeps kicking but Tanahashi stands. Tanahashi throws forearm after forearm, but ZSJ gives the bad arm a shoulder breaker! Then he knuckle locks but Tanahashi throws forearms! ZSJ wrenches still but Tanahashi gives more forearms. Tanahashi forearms then whips but ZSJ reverses. ZSJ runs into boots, but comes back with a European Uppercut! Tanahashi shoves ZSJ but ZSJ eggs him on. The two get face to face with trash talk before Tanahashi throws forearms. ZSJ kicks low, whips but Tanahashi slips free. ZSJ still boots him in the corner, then whips corner to corner again. Tanahashi dropkicks the legs out! Tanahashi grits his teeth while ZSJ clutches his knees. Fans rally as both men get up.
Tanahashi fires off on ZSJ’s legs in the corner, then whips him corner to corner. ZSJ resists so Tanahashi just sends him back into the same corner for a shotgun dropkick! Tanahashi brings ZSJ up again to throw forearms and body shots! A EuroUpper staggers ZSJ, but Tanahashi runs into the cobra twists! They go around as ZSJ tries to lock it on, and he gets it! Tanahashi fights out of it to put it on ZSJ! Then rolls ZSJ up, TWO! ZSJ baits Tanahashi in and steps through to a roll up of his own, but Tanahashi sits on it! TWO and ZSJ sunsets, TWO! Tanahashi sits, TWO! The two separate, ZSJ dodges the dropkick to CRANK the neck! Both men are down, clutching parts of their bodies. Fans rally up as ZSJ gets to a corner. ZSJ dares Tanahashi to stand, and Tanahashi slowly sits up. ZSJ Penalty Kicks but it gets blocked! DRAGON SCREW!
Fans fire up with Tanahashi as he goes after the legs again. ZSJ resists, but Tanahashi still gets him up. But Tanahashi can’t get ZSJ around, and ZSJ fights Tanahashi into a triangle hold! He trips Tanahashi up to get an armbar, but Tanahashi grips to save his limb. Tanahashi rolls, laces the legs again, Clover Leaf! But ZSJ cradle counters, TWO!! The technical exchange continues to heat up, but we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns once more as ZSJ and Tanahashi reset. ZSJ is up first, but Tanahashi follows. Tanahashi dodges to SLAP! ZSJ wobbles, Tanahashi runs, but into a full nelson! Tanahashi slips out to put on a half nelson but ZSJ slips around to step through to the Iron Octopus! Tanahashi endures as ZSJ bends and twists him, and then bends and twists the far arm! ZSJ grips behind the back for extra torque! But Tanahashi drops and rolls to get the ropebreak! ZSJ lets him go but grins as he brings Tanahashi back u. Fans rally as Tanahashi resists the scoop. Tanahashi elbows ZSJ off, but swings into the arm wrench PELE! ZSJ aims, PENALTY KICK! Fans cheer their hometown hero as he says this isn’t all. He drags Tanahashi up again to end this, scoop, but Tanahashi slips out of Zack Driver for a Twist ‘n’ Shout! Then a SLINGBLADE! Cover, TWO!!
But Tanahashi doesn’t slow down, he goes up top! ZSJ is down, HIGH FLY KNEES! Triangle hold! Tanahashi endures as fans duel and shout. ZSJ tries to keep hold as Tanahashi moves around. Tanahashi fades, but comes back. Tanahashi gets up, deadlifts ZSJ, but ZSJ slips around to make it a LeBelle Lock! And then he grabs the other arm, the same torturous attack from G1 Supercard! Tanahashi endures ZSJ’s Rings of Saturn, and powers his way out! ZSJ give sup on that arm, and Tanahashi rolls around, to get a grounded Dragon Screw! ZSJ hobbles up, Tanahashi full nelsons, but ZSJ drops down, rolls up, EUROCLUTCH! TWO!! Tanahashi gets to ropes fast, then runs at ZSJ to throw a EuroUpper! ZSJ shakes that off to give his own! Tanahashi and ZSJ approach, and Tanahashi gives another heavy EuroUpper! But so does ZSJ!
ZSJ rocks Tanahashi again and again, but Tanahashi hits a slapping palm strike! Then another EuroUpper, and another, but swings into a backslide. he slips out, SLINGBLADE! Full Nelson, DRAGON SUPLEX! With bridge, TWO! But Tanahashi doesn’t stop, he goes up top. HIGH FLY FLOW HITS! Cover, Tanahashi wins!!
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi, by pinfall; NEW Rev-Pro British Heavyweight Champion
The Ace trumps the Submission Master! Six years since joining the British wrestling scene, Hiroshi Tanahashi is the champion! How long will Tanahashi represent the bond between NJPW and RPW?
Another great hour for NJPW on AXS, and a really surprising one with both titles changing hands! Kenta VS Ishii was a great match, even with the Guerrillas of Destiny interfering. Kenta would’ve looked stronger if he did it clean, but maybe he would’ve looked too strong to NJPW if he did. But that’s still great for Kenta to finally be a champion somewhere again, since it didn’t work out in his favor in WWE when he was Hideo Itami. I would love to see Kenta rack up some successful defenses, but maybe not with help from the Bullet Club. Kenta can surely beat the usual NEVER Openweight contenders, though I could totally see Taichi getting over with a strong showing. Hirooki Goto is almost always in the Openweight scene so a match with Kenta would be a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, ZSJ VS Tanahashi was amazing, so much story went into it but it was great as a stand-alone. And the biggest surprise was that Tanahashi won to take that title in the UK. But as of this episode airing, a rematch was already set, so there’s a good chance ZSJ gets it back just to extend his own legacy in Rev-Pro. And either way, this really escalates the feud of Tanahashi and ZSJ, and it will only get better from here.
My Score: 8.9/10