The Right to Challenge is on the line!
The Golden Star doesn’t have a briefcase, but he has a contract! However, will he still have his golden ticket after facing The King of Darkness?
- Minoru Suzuki VS Jushin Thunder Liger; Suzuki wins.
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship Right to Challenge Contract Match: Kota Ibushi VS EVIL; Ibushi wins and retains the Right to Challenge.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the scene for this second part of Sports Day!
After making New Japan his wrestling home, the Golden Star returned to the G1 Climax Finals, and finally took the coveted prize! Kota Ibushi is hoping to make it to Wrestle Kingdom 14 to take the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but he must risk that right along the way. Ibushi dodged a bullet going against KENTA, but now he might be left in the dark as EVIL comes calling. Evil was the other man to beat Ibushi during the G1, and now wants Ibushi’s ticket to the title. Will Darkness Fall on Ibushi’s road to the top? Or will he shine brighter than ever before?
But first! After pushing the limits of what he could do to the living legend, Minoru Suzuki awoke something dangerous within Jushin Thunder Liger. The road to retirement brings about one more rematch, and the Warrior Beast, Kishin Liger, has returned! This fight will not be about records but about survival! Suzuki was laughing before, but will he even be standing by the end?
Minoru Suzuki VS Jushin Thunder Liger!
The fans are thunderous for this match right away, and Liger stares Suzuki down. They circle, approach, and feel out the grapple. Liger backs off, and the two circle again. Suzuki smirks while fans rally up again. Suzuki tests a kick but Liger stays clear. They tie up and Liger wrenches. Suzuki breaks free but Liger SPITS at him! Liger wants Suzuki to bring it, and even sits down to give him a target. Suzuki rushes in and Liger keeps him away, and the two scramble about before separating. The fans love the exchange as the two go again. Liger drop toeholds but Suzuki blocks anything more. Suzuki has the arm and rolls Liger to attempt the Kimura! Suzuki even has Liger’s leg, but Liger manages to roll around. Suzuki cranks on the arm! Liger endures, and gets the ropebreak! Suzuki glares as he lets go.
Liger stands, but now Suzuki dares him to bring it by sitting down. Suzuki goes to kick from the mat but Liger stays clear. Liger gets in between the leg guard and keeps one leg down while grabbing the other. Suzuki resists, and the two tangle with leg locks. Suzuki stands and attempts something, but Liger drags him into a triangle! Suzuki kicks and turns, but Liger holds on tight! Suzuki reaches back with a foot to get the ropebreak, and Liger holds on until 4! Then he gets Suzuki again! The ref counts and Liger lets up, to then basement dropkick Suzuki out! Liger hurries after Suzuki as he staggers around. Liger whips Suzuki into barriers! Liger kicks Suzuki at the railing, and whips him back the other way! Suzuki hits hard and falls to the floor.
Liger gets a chair! He already breaks the seat off on the railing! The referee stops him, and Suzuki BOOTS Liger down! Suzuki has a chair of his own now! Suzuki leaves it where he found it, though, to whip Liger up into railing! Suzuki goes looking for more things, and finds more chairs. Suzuki SMACKS Liger on the back! And again! And again! And again! The chair shots ring out while fans boo and jeer! The ref lets this all slide, if only because there needs to be a real winner. Suzuki wraps Liger’s arm around railing and pulls! The ref counts this but Suzuki lets up, while also shoving the ref away. Suzuki has the ref by his collar, but the ref threatens disqualification this time. Suzuki lets him go so he can go back to Liger. And goes after the mask! Liger is already down to his third mask, Suzuki wants to humiliate Liger in his farewell!
The ref reprimands Suzuki but Suzuki trash talks Liger. Liger gives the trash talk back, but Suzuki plays with the mask. Liger CHOPS back! And CHOPS! Suzuki throws forearms back, then gets in the ring to keep the count from climbing too high. Liger slowly gets in but Suzuki drags him up by his mask! Suzuki still wants to rip that mask apart! The ref stops him, but Suzuki gets Liger in a triangle hold on the ropes! Suzuki lets go at 4, and lets Liger flop as we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and Suzuki eggs Liger on to stand up. The ref checks on Liger and fans rally up for the legend, but Suzuki starts kicking at him. Suzuki toys and taunts Liger as he rises. Liger gives more CHOPS, but Suzuki gives one back. Liger knees low, runs but into a boot! Suzuki grabs the mask again to stand Liger. He whips Liger corner to corner to boot him down! Then he runs, but the Penalty Kick is blocked! Liger clubs the leg, whips Suzuki now, and hits a big corner clothesline! But Suzuki just shouts at him! Suzuki fires off forearms, but runs into Liger’s SHOTEI! Suzuki stands and Liger hits a rolling kick! Liger drags Suzuki up, suplexes, but Suzuki escapes to a sleeper hold! Liger fades already, and Suzuki lets him go?! Suzuki wants to make Liger suffer, but he gets caught into a LEBELLE LOCK! Then the Rings of Saturn!!
Suzuki endures, shouts and screams as Liger pulls way back on the hold! Will Pancrase be reversed today?! Suzuki fights forward, flips over, and gets the ropebreak! Liger sits Suzuki up to kick away, but then wrenches to a shoulder breaker! Liger spins Suzuki around for another shoulder breaker! Suzuki falls against the ropes, clutching that arm. Liger stands Suzuki up and wants another, but Suzuki counters to a sleeper hold! Liger starts fading again, but he manages to throw Suzuki! But Suzuki holds on! Liger sits up, fans rally up, and the ref checks. Liger’s arm falls once! But then he revives! Suzuki spins him around, Gotch hold, but Liger resists the piledriver! Suzuki keeps trying, he gets Liger up, but Liger powers out to a back drop! Fans cheer as Liger Thesz Presses to a cover, TWO! Liger keeps going, suplex to BRAIN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!! Suzuki survives!
Both men are down and the fans are thunderous! Suzuki and Liger slowly rise, and Liger powers up. Liger runs, into a dropkick! Suzuki drags Liger up by his mask again, and throws furious palm strikes from all sides! Suzuki SLAPS Liger, but Liger powers up! Suzuki dares Liger to give it all back, and Liger does! Liger slaps away, but Suzuki just sticks out his tongue. Suzuki comes back with more palm strikes, and Liger staggers! But Liger powers up again! Only to wobble over and give a faint chop. Suzuki wants the fans to make noise, and they certainly make noise for Liger to stand. Liger stands and CHOPS, but Suzuki still just takes it. Liger powers up, slaps away, but Suzuki isn’t satisfied. Liger wobbles again, grits his teeth, and slaps. Suzuki comes back to ROCK Liger with a right. The ref checks on Liger on the mat, but Suzuki brings him up. Liger chops again, but Still Suzuki stays up.
Liger keeps trying, and Suzuki keeps daring Liger to try. Liger does try, but Suzuki rocks him again! And then brings Liger in, Gotch… Wait for it… PILEDRIVER! Suzuki wins!!
Winner: Minoru Suzuki, by pinfall
And there it is! One more match between these two, and the Meanest Man in the World gets one last win over Liger. And yet Suzuki doesn’t seem satisfied. He grabs a chair and uses it on the Young Lions by Liger’s side! Suzuki raises that chair high over Liger, only to toss it aside?! Fans are surprised to see Suzuki kneel and bow to Liger!! The ultimate symbol of respect, and fans show their respect to Suzuki for that.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Right to Challenge Contract Match: Kota Ibushi VS EVIL!
The G1 Climax 29 winner still had scores to settle, and he naturally put up his prize as part of it. The Golden Star got his loss back from KENTA, but now he must try again against the King of Darkness. Evil wants to be the one going to Wrestle Kingdom 14’s main event, even if it could be against Los Ingobernables de Japon amigo, Sanada. Will the WK14 card change in part tonight? Or will Ibushi solidify his road to the spotlight?
The introductions are made, the contract is presented and put in the new custom case fitting Ibushi’s specifications, and this match will begin after the break.
NJPW on AXS returns with the bell, and the fans duel as the two men stare down. Ibushi and Evil slowly start circling, but Ibushi is wary. They approach and Evil kicks low to then wrap on a headlock. Ibushi works against the hold but Evil just cranks harder. Ibushi keeps trying but Evil wrangles him back in. Evil grinds, and holds on even as Ibushi tries to push free. Ibushi tries again but Evil still holds on tight! Ibushi fights back now with elbows, and then powers Evil, only for Evil to run him over! But Ibushi kips up right away! Ibushi goes to headlock, but Evil slips out to get his headlock back on! Evil throws Ibushi with the takedown, but Ibushi keeps out of a cover. Evil grinds but Ibushi works his way up. Ibushi throws body shots and elbows, and powers out again. Things speed up and Ibushi dropkicks Evil down!
Fans rally up as Ibushi catches his breath. Ibushi stands and aims a swift kick into Evil’s chest! And another! Evil falls over but rises back up, and Ibushi gives him another kick! Evil falls over again and Ibushi wants to give more. Evil sits up, blocks that kick, gives it to Red Shoes and mule kicks Ibushi back! Then clotheslines him out of the ring! Evil takes a moment to catch his breath after going out to fetch Ibushi. Evil wrenches then whips Ibushi into barriers! Evil drags Ibushi up and whips him back the other way but Ibushi reverses, only for Evil to reverse and send Ibushi into railing even harder! Ibushi writhes but Evil won’t let him rest. Evil drags him up by the ears and puts him in the ring. Fans duel as Evil looms over Ibushi. Evil stands Ibushi up, turns him around and drops him with a neckbreaker! Cover, ONE, but Evil is not upset.
Evil grabs the arms for the half surfboard, digging his knee in Ibushi’s back. Ibushi endures and fights his way to his feet. Ibushi works to turn things around, literally, but Evil cranks harder! Ibushi keeps trying, going the other way now. Evil manages to hold Ibushi back! Ibushi won’t quit, he keeps turning, and he gets Evil around! Only for Evil to keep it going all the way back around! Ibushi falls to his knees and fans rally up again. Ibushi grits his teeth and stands up, to dropkick back! But Evil dodges! Evil leaps for a senton, but Ibushi dodges him now! Both men are down, catching their breath. Evil stands first, shaking his head. Ibushi throws forearms but Evil kicks low. Evil whips, Ibushi dodges, and Ibushi hits a flying kick! Both men are down again, but Ibushi rises first.
Ibushi stands Evil up, ducks a punch to fire off a strike fest! But he runs into Evil’s boot! Evil runs out, into Ibushi’s spinning powerslam! Ibushi moonsaults immediately, hits and covers, TWO! Fans rally and duel again while both men are down. Ibushi is up first, and he fires himself up. He waistlocks Evil but Evil resists the lift. They standing switch and Evil shoves, but Ibushi dodges in the corner. Ibushi runs in, but is put on the apron. Ibushi counter punches, then springboards, but Evil gets under. Evil runs in, blocks boots and spins Ibushi around to club him on the back! Ibushi is stuck in the ropes, Evil jumps up to STOMP Ibushi down! Fans rally up again as Evil takes in the energy. Evil drums the mat and the fans follow along. Evil runs at Ibushi corner to corner, but into DOUBLE STOMPS! Both men are down again, but Ibushi stands first.
Evil is on the apron, and Ibushi climbs the ropes. Ibushi brings Evil up in and into the waistlock, but Evil fights out! Evil hotshots Ibushi down! But they’re both down and catching their breath as we go to break!
NJPW on AXS returns again as Evil starts looking for things under the ring. He of course finds several chairs, and then brings Ibushi out to join him. Evil knees low but Ibushi fires haymakers. Evil CHOPS and Ibushi sits down! Evil has the chairs but Red Shoes reprimands him. Evil puts one chair around Ibushi’s head, shoves Red Shoes aside, and has the other chair! Evil SWINGS the chair against the other! That’s a home run for Evil! Red Shoes reprimands Evil again, but Evil has no shame. Evil drags Ibushi up and into the ring, and prepares his arm. Fans rally up as Ibushi rises in the corner. Evil winds up, runs in corner to corner, for a BIG corner clothesline! Evil roars and fans fire up as Evil has Ibushi up. He hoists Ibushi to the top rope, climbs up to join him, and hits the SUPERPLEX! Cover, TWO!! Ibushi still lives and fans cheer!
The dueling continues as Evil stands over Ibushi. Evil drags Ibushi up, reels him in, but Ibushi resists the fireman’s carry! Ibushi elbows Evil in the head, but Evil CHOPS back! Evil whips, Ibushi reverses, but Evil denies the dropkick by holding ropes. Evil has his arm at the ready again, runs, but Ibushi dodges. Evil follows, but Ibushi knows about the misdirection and hits a huricanrana! Ibushi grits his teeth as fans rally again. He looms over Evil now as they end up in the corner. Ibushi hoists Evil up top now, and throws forearms before climbing up. They’re on the very top, but Evil resists! Ibushi throws big forearms on Evil, but Evil headbutts back! Ibushi sits down and Evil shoves him to the apron. Evil sits up but Ibushi springboards up for a SUPER STEINER! Cover, TWO!! Fans duel again as both men are down.
Ibushi is up first and drags Evil up. Ibushi has both hands but Evil resists! But Ibushi still forces him to sit up, but Evil gets the fireman’s carry! Ibushi slips out, scoops Evil, but Evil slips out to German Suplex! Ibushi lands on his feet! And runs in to LARIAT! But Evil stays up!? Evil hits a rolling elbow and a LARIAT! Cover, TWO! Both men are down but fans are fired up even more! Evil sits up, frustrated but still focused. He goes back to Evil, has him up in the fireman’s carry, DARKNESS FALLS! Cover, TWO!! Ibushi still lives and angers Evil. Evil slashes the throat, vowing to end this! He drags Ibushi up, reels him in, spins him around, but Ibushi wheelbarrows to a victory roll! TWO, and Ibushi scoops Evil! Ibushi hooks the arms, PACKAGE TOMBSTONE! But he’s too tired to cover! Evil only survives because Ibushi can’t finish!
Ibushi drags Evil up and has a powerbomb lift, LAST RIDE! Cover, TWO!? Evil survives that one on his own merits! But Ibushi goes to a corner and calls upon the King of Strong Style with his “YAO~!” He runs at Evil, into a LARIAT! Both men are down again but the fans are still fired up! Evil gets up, runs, and LARIATS again! Cover, TWO?! Evil is seething but he is not through with Ibushi yet! He drags Ibushi up, reels him in, spins him around, but Ibushi dodges the STO to get a full nelson! Evil breaks free, but Ibushi just makes it a straitjacket German! Bridging cover but it wobbles off before a count can be made! Ibushi keeps the wrists, but Evil dodges Kamigoye to hit a HALF ‘N’ HALF! Ibushi flops around but Evil drags him right up into another Half ‘n’ Half! Fans are thunderous as both men are down! Evil fires himself up, he can feel how close he is! He throws off the elbow pad, runs in, but Ibushi LARIATS!
Ibushi roars while Evil is dazed! Ibushi sits Evil up with the wristlocks, but Evil dodges! EVERYTHING- No, Ibushi slips out, but Evil headbutts! Ibushi headbutts, but his roundhouse is blocked! Evil spins, into Ibushi’s V-TRIGGER! KAMIGOYE!! Cover, TWO!?! Evil shocks Ibushi but he won’t stop. KAMIGOYE AGAIN! Cover, now Ibushi wins!!
Winner: Kota Ibushi, by pinfall; retains the Right to Challenge contract
The Golden Star shines in the darkness and keeps his golden ticket! That also means he gets to keep his new briefcase. Will Ibushi still make it to the main event? And who will he meet there, Rainmaker or Cold Skull?
NJPW Media Backstage Interviews
Ibushi sits with his briefcase, and says “This is what I came here for today.” He was fighting to protect the briefcase. He is fulfilling not just his dream, but everyone’s dream. At this point, who could he lose? This was no surprise, but he does admit it was very close. “I still haven’t shown the best of Kota Ibushi. So you all still have a lot to look forward to.” Ibushi himself wonders who he will meet in the WK14 main event. But he can’t afford to worry about that. Ibushi will gladly face Evil again, “that was fun.” Will Ibushi and Evil meet again, but as champion and challenger?
A great and fast-moving episode for NJPW on AXS here. Suzuki VS Liger was pretty good, and seemed over so fast. It was quite an interesting finale to the history between these two. And on top of the win, it was such a great moment for Suzuki to bow and show respect to Liger one last time. Then the main event of the hour, Ibushi VS Evil was pretty great. There was a lot of story, especially at the start, and commentary made sure to plug that Evil had been on a streak against Ibushi in the tag team matches leading up to this. Ibushi was therefore worried to start, but then things got going and it was another great chapter for a growing rivalry. But in the end, it made a lot of sense for Ibushi to win. With the chance that Sanada wins the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NJPW wasn’t going to set up an LIJ VS LIJ match, certainly not at this point. Ibushi winning keeps us in suspense for Okada VS Sanada, but either possibility of Ibushi VS Okada or Ibushi VS Sanada will be amazing.
My Score: 8.7/10