NJPW is in the UK!
New Japan goes to the United Kingdom on a quest to see if the Rainmaker can thwart the King of Pancrase as the sun sets on summer!
Coverage of NJPW Royal Quest will be as broadcast by AXS TV
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada VS Minoru Suzuki; Okada wins and retains the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the scene for this epic event abroad!
After being snubbed in this year’s G1 Climax, the Man with the Worst Personality is in the worst mood ever! Minoru Suzuki wants to stick it to NJPW and their golden boy. He defeated Kazuchika Okada in a tag team match and then made his challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship! The G1 Climax’s guaranteed title match contract is for Wrestle Kingdom, so Kota Ibushi is waiting in the wings. Suzuki therefore jumps to the front of the line! But can he get the better of the Rainmaker when they’ve had two time limit draws and a 40-minute classic? Or will the Rainmaker’s reign become an international phenomenon all over again? We find out, NOW!
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada VS Minoru Suzuki!
There is no room for anything else when a match this amazing comes along. Will Okada keep going towards Wrestle Kingdom in the Tokyo Dome? Or will The King take the throne while NJPW is overseas?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and the UK is thunderous as the Rainmaker’s fifth reign faces its meanest challenger!
NJPW on AXS returns as the anticipation builds watching Okada prepare himself. Okada reveals the shorts! Fans build to a rally already as Okada and Suzuki simply stare down. Suzuki and Okada hear the dueling chants as they circle. Okada and Suzuki approach and feel out the grapple. Fans rally more as Okada and Suzuki circle again. The two approach and Okada gets clear of Suzuki’s kick. Suzuki goes at Okada in the corner but Red Shoes has him back up. Okada comes out but avoids the knee. They feel out the grapple again and tie up with knuckle locks. They go shoulder to shoulder and push as fans rally more. Okada wrenches to a wristlock but Suzuki works on an escape. Fans duel as Okada hammerlocks. Okada stays in the blind spot but Suzuki gets around to reverse the hammerlock onto Okada.
Suzuki puts Okada on the mat as fans continue to rally. Suzuki pulls Okada’s free arm back and grinds a knee on Okada’s head. Okada spins out and breaks Suzuki’s grip. Okada keeps Suzuki away with a leg guard, then gets away himself. Fans cheer this chess game’s early exchange. Suzuki kicks low and wrenches the wrist. Okada endures but Suzuki yanks hard on the arm! Okada rolls and gets a leg takedown. Suzuki reaches up for a chinlock, then wags his finger “No no no!” Suzuki pulls hair but Red Shoes counts. Suzuki lets go of the hair to chinbar Okada back. Okada wrenches the foot harder and Suzuki lets go. Suzuki grabs hair again but Okada wrenches the foot. Suzuki gets Okada into an armbar! Okada flails around but gets caught in a Triangle hold! But he also gets a ropebreak with his foot! Suzuki lets go and Okada backs off to a corner while fans cheer.
Suzuki grins at Okada as we’re only five minutes into this match. Fans rally up again as the two circle and approach. Okada is wary as they tie up so he backs off. Suzuki eggs Okada on and then gives him a shove. Okada fires a forearm! Suzuki fires back, but Okada gives another. Suzuki hits, Okada hits back, repeat. Fans cheer as the pace picks up. Suzuki runs but into a boot. Okada snapmares and runs, basement dropkick! Fans cheer as Suzuki is reeling. Okada goes after Suzuki with more forearms, and he rocks Suzuki onto the ropes. Okada siwngs again but Suzuki dodges to get Okada in a hanging armbar! Red Shoes counts and Suzuki lets go, to drag Okada outside and throw into railing! Okada is writhing while Suzuki goes looking for something! He has a steel chair! Suzuki is riled up but Red Shoes tells him to stand down. Suzuki threatens Red Shoes instead!
Okada comes around, and stifles the chair shot to throw forearms! And they go up to the ramp! Suzuki denies the gut wrench, to get a Gotch lift! Okada fights against the lift, so Suzuki just clubs him down. Suzuki goes up the ramp and uses it to get a running start. Suzuki hits a BIG Penalty Kick! And then he walks it off while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Suzuki picks up that steel chair again! Suzuki smiles at fans as he brings it to the ramp. Red Shoes reprimands Suzuki again but Suzuki plays keep away. Suzuki puts the chair in the ring, so he can have a seat. Fans cheer the arrogance of The King as he watches Okada crawl. Okada stands and hobbles his way back into the ring. Suzuki is on Okada with stomps, so Red Shoes takes the chair away. Suzuki sees that but Red Shoes puts the chair outside the ring. Suzuki goes back to Okada but Okada fires forearms back. Fans rally as Suzuki just takes the forearms and eggs Okada on. Okada fires more, and Suzuki laughs! Suzuki pats Okada on the shoulder, before giving him a BIG right forearm! Okada wobbles then falls to his knees. Fans want “One More Time!” so Suzuki goes back to Okada with stomps. Suzuki wrenches the arm to a hammerlock, then gets the other. Two hammerlocks, and then a Half Crab! Okada endures this combination of holds as fans rally up.
Okada crawls but Suzuki shifts right into an STF! Suzuki then shifts back to the legs for a Queen Angelito! Fans duel as Suzuki pulls hair to get Okada in the chinlock! It’s a Royal STF! But Okada pops out of the crossface, and scrambles to a ropebreak! Suzuki reluctantly lets Okada go, but then chuckles to himself. He encourages fans to cheer for Okada, before kicking Okada square in the back! Okada sits up to get a kick in the chest! Okada eggs Suzuki on now, so Suzuki gladly gives him another swift kick! And another! And another! But Okada stands up, only for Suzuki to give forearms. Okada gives forearms back, and they go back and forth. Suzuki hits low then whips corner to corner. Okada boots back, then runs, dodges a boot to give a back elbow! Fans cheer as both men are down, and then rally up as the two stir. Okada kips up!
Okada has Suzuki first with many forearms. Okada whips corner to corner then runs in to hit a leaping elbow. Low kick to the DDT! Cover, TWO! Suzuki rolls out of the ring for a breather, but fans rally as Okada takes aim. Okada slingshots and takes Suzuki out! Okada fires up and so do the fans! Okada puts Suzuki in the ring and dares Suzuki to get up. Suzuki snarls as he stands, and he holds off the Alabama lift to drive in big knees. Suzuki whips corner to corner to BOOT Okada! Then snapmare to a Penalty Kick! Cover, TWO! Suzuki keeps his cool as he looms over Okada. Okada swings but into a Fujiwara Armbar! Suzuki pulls back hard but Okada endures. Suzuki also pulls on the fingers and wrist, but still Okada endures! Fans rally and Okada again gets a ropebreak with his long legs. But Suzuki keeps on the arm! Red Shoes counts, so Suzuki lets go.
Suzuki angrily shouts at fans and then at Red Shoes. He goes back to Okada to kick swiftly in the chest again. And again! Okada writhes, both arm and chest stinging from the impact. Suzuki hits another kick! Suzuki wrenches the arm and kicks it, wanting to prevent the Rainmaker lariat before it even happens. Okada throws forearm shots but that proves double-edged. Suzuki wrenches and elbows the arm! Suzuki knees low again and again until Okada falls over. Then Suzuki runs for a basement BOOT! Cover, TWO!! Okada lives and Suzuki grows frustrated. But Suzuki just reels Okada in and fans rally up. Gotch hold, but Okada resists! Okada powers through to back drop Suzuki! Basement European Uppercut! Both men are down again as we go to another break.
NJPW on AXS returns again, and Suzuki crawls away for space. Okada and Suzuki stand, and Okada runs out from the red corner to shotgun dropkick Suzuki to the blue corner! Okada quickly brings Suzuki up and to a fireman’s carry, Death Valley Driver! Cover, TWO! Okada grows a bit frustrated, but he drags Suzuki back up for a scoop slam! Classic Okada as he heads up top. And Okada hits the Macho Elbow! Fans fire up as Okada now hits, the Rainmaker Pose! Suzuki stands with a snarl and SLAPS Okada! Suzuki eggs Okada on as fans duel. Okada throws another forearm, but Suzuki comes back with another of his own. They go back and forth again, and then Okada taunts Suzuki. Suzuki grins before he gives Okada a HARD right! Okada wobbles but stays up, and Suzuki actually commends it! Suzuki wants Okada to come back, and Okada grins as he gives yet another forearm.
Fans hush themselves as Suzuki comes back with a HARDER forearm! But Okada still manages to stay up, though with some help from the ropes. Okada steadies himself and gives Suzuki several forearms in a row. Suzuki just shrugs those off, before giving Okada another HARD forearm! But then Suzuki and the fans applaud Okada staying on his feet! Okada stands up straight, and Suzuki taunts him by putting his arms behind his back. Suzuki has no guard as Okada gives him a forearm! Still not enough, so Okada gives another! Still not enough, so Okada gives another! That wobbles Suzuki and Okada says, “How’s that?!” Okada grins and then returns the no guard. Suzuki winds up to hit HARD once again. Okada wobbles and staggers, but he comes back, to get another! Okada fires up, only to get another! And another! Okada falls!! And Suzuki stands tall as the fans are thunderous!
Suzuki drags Okada up, positions the head, and gives a BIG forearm to the back! Okada flops over but Suzuki brings him in! Gotch hold, but Okada flails with his legs to again resist the piledriver! They go back and forth, and Okada gets Suzuki up! AIR RAID NECKBREAKER! Both men are down and fans know “This is Awesome!” But it’s also far from over as Red Shoes waits for each man to stand. Suzuki and Okada are on their knees as the rally grows stronger. Suzuki forearms, but Okada forearms back. Suzuki again, but Okada returns it. Suzuki rocks Okada but Okada rocks Suzuki. They stand and the brawl continues back and forth. Okada refuses to back down and starts giving EuroUppers. Suzuki kneels, but does not yield. Suzuki headbutts! And headbutts! And headbutts! Suzuki whips but Okada reverses to hit the dropkick!
Okada drags Suzuki back up, reels him in for a sleeper hold! Okada is using one of Suzuki’s favorites! Suzuki’s fans boo but Okada’s fans like the turnabout. But Suzuki himself goes after the fingers! Okada holds on, but Suzuki stands up and powers Okada back. Okada keeps squeezing tight, and Red Shoes checks on Suzuki. Suzuki still has life, but it is fading. So much like Suzuki would, Okada lets go of the hold, to ROCK Suzuki with another forearm. And another! And a third! Suzuki staggers and Okada runs, but Suzuki dropkicks Okada down! Fans are again fired up as Suzuki puts his sleeper hold onto Okada! Okada endures the squeeze now, reaches for ropes, but is turning purple like his trunks! But he still gets the ropebreak! Suzuki lets go only to kick the arms off the rope! And then he gets the sleeper back! BIG takedown, to a mounted sleeper!
Okada endures the squeeze and having Suzuki’s weight on him. Fans duel strong as ever as Suzuki brings Okada around. Okada is fading on his feet! Red Shoes checks by lifting and dropping the arm. The arm falls once. The arm falls twice. But Suzuki spins Okada, only for Okada to hit RAINMAKER OUTTA NOWHERE!! And Okada still has wrist control as both men hit the mat! Okada lives, and forces himself up, to then drag Suzuki around. They stand, and Okada hits another lariat! Rainmaker Pose again! Okada brings Suzuki up, has the wristlock, but Suzuki fights out with elbows! Okada spins into Suzuki’s uppercut! Suzuki shakes out the cobwebs, then thinks about that right hand of his. Suzuki brings Okada up to fire off fast strikes with both hands! He slaps away on Okada, then keeps on going! Suzuki doesn’t let Okada fall, he just keeps firing off! And then ROCKS Okada with a right! Down goes Okada!
Suzuki brings Okada up once again, for another sleeper hold! Okada is again very purple, and then Suzuki spins him around. Suzuki points to his fans, puts on the Gotch, and lifts! Only for Okada to kick free yet again! Okada grabs a leg, but Suzuki SLAPS and headbutts! Only for Okada to spin him and dropkick him in the back! Suzuki goes down and fans fire up again! Okada hobbles over and brings Suzuki up. Okada whips and dropkicks Suzuki again! Okada fires himself up as fans are divided. Okada has the wristlock, reels Suzuki out but gets a boot! Suzuki spins Okada for a sleeper, then spins for the Gotch, only to get another back drop! Okada runs, but his boot is caught. Suzuki uses that to spin Okada while he runs. Suzuki runs to tilt-o-whirl, but Okada has the TOMBSTONE! But that’s not it, wristlock ripcord to RAINMAKER!! Cover, Okada wins!!
Winner: Kazuchika Okada, by pinfall; still IWGP Heavyweight Champion
And history is made! The first title defense of THE IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the UK is a successful defense for The Rainmaker! Suzuki’s challenge was not enough to end Okada’s newest reign! Is Okada going to continue on as the greatest IWGP Heavyweight Champion of all time? We’ll hear from the Rainmaker after the break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Okada is ready to speak.
“COPPER BOX~!” And in English, he asks, “How was New Japan Pro-Wrestling tonight?” Fans cheer, showing that they definitely enjoyed it. “And how was IWGP Heavyweight Championship match?” They cheer again, because they clearly loved it! “Suzuki-san! I hate you more than anyone in the world. But I’m glad I got to wrestle you in London. Thank you, Suzuki-san!” Fans cheer for that because they also respect Suzuki. And so, the payback is complete for Suzuki’s actions, but there is still someone else. Okada wonders who he should go after next. But before he says anything, out comes SANADA! The Cold Skull was the first man to beat Okada in the G1 Climax this year, and so clearly we all know this is who Okada meant. Sanada climbs into the ring to stand face to face with Okada.
“Hey, London!” Sanada says. “Next time I see you, I’ll be IWGP Heavyweight Champion.” Fans cheer because they’d love to see that! Okada shakes his head, saying it won’t be so easy. Fans duel again and both men hear it all. Sanada nods as he takes his leave, because his match card is clearly set. When and where will the Rainmaker and Cold Skull have their eighth match in history?
Okada asks if London likes the idea of him and Sanada for the title. Clearly they do! Well okay. But sorry Sanada, because when Okada comes back to the UK, he will STILL be champion! And it only rains gold when Okada is champion! And as long as he IS champion, here in London, he’ll make it rain! Will Okada keep this fifth reign going through Sanada? Or will the Golden Star be expecting a different opponent in the Tokyo Dome?
It feels like a long time since AXS only gave us one hour of NJPW, but this was still a great first part to the Royal Quest coverage. We only got and only needed the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in a match that helps bring the title itself closer to being a literal world title. Defended in Japan, defended in North America/United States and now the United Kingdom, I think it just takes one other continent but I feel like it’d have to be Australia in a future “Southern Showdown” or whatever they choose to call it. At the same time, not sure if NJPW is really concerned with that since it’s been just the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for so long.
All that stuff aside, what a great match between Okada and Suzuki, with plenty of past to build upon between these two icons. However, it was clear Okada would win, because the idea of him going through quite the amazing string of challenges to test this newest reign is a great story. Okada VS Sanada was obviously the next match, and that will be an amazing match given the G1 Climax encounter. At this point, as easy as Okada could retain to put pressure on Kota Ibushi making it to Wrestle Kingdom, things could completely switch and it’s now Sanada seeing if he can carry the baton as the top guy in NJPW. Fans are definitely going to be fine with either outcome, and NJPW could easily pull the trigger and give it a try, but also just stick to the big name that’s already gotten them this far. The intrigue is great for NJPW in a time when everyone else in the wrestling fandom is wondering what other companies are going to do booking wise in the Fall.
My Score: 9/10