Matt Davis steps back into the spotlight with his review and recap of New Japan’s King Of Pro Wrestling!
Welcome to the event everyone has been waiting for since the G1 Climax ended! Annually this show is held in October, and features marquee rivalries coming to ahead as we set the stage for WrestleKingdom. Due to inclimate weather surrounding Typhoon Hagibis, several announced talent were not able to travel to Japan for this show. Due to time constraints of my own I will jumping into the action after the first couple matches with full details and summarizing the openers.
1) El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs SHO & YOH
Originally advertised as a six man tag featuring Zack Sabre Jr, this was turned into a regular tag team match and a preview for next weeks Super Jr Tag League Tournament. El Desperado made his return to NJPW after suffering a broken jaw in May. Suzuki-gun looked like they never missed a beat and picked up the opening win after a Pinche Loco at 10:55
Winners: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Thoughts: Average junior tag match between two experienced teams. There was no doubt Desperado wasn’t winning his return. Let’s see what happens next week in the Super Jr Tag. I think these guys have to be favorites after their dominant run with the Tag Titles last year.
2) Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma vs Togi Makabe & Toru Yano
“20th Anniversary Hiroshi Tanahashi NJPW Debut Match”
This was a cool match which was the fourth in a series of anniversary matches for The Ace, honoring his longevity and loyalty to the company he helped rejuvinate over a decade ago. Makabe and Toru Yano have been with him along the way in the company, and Honma is a long time tag parter of Togi Makabe, so seeing the four veterans go at it with low stakes was fun. Tanahashi picked up the win after a High Fly Flow on Yano in under 10 minutes.
Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma
Thoughts: Nothing wrong with it, nothing special about it either. I’m not a huge fan of Tanahashi at this stage of his career. Other people love him, it’s fine. He hit his spots, was a basic tag with NJPW veterans.
3) Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi vs DOUKI & Taichi
Early heel action by DOUKI and Taichi, because everyone hates Taichi. The feud with Naito and Taichi goes way back, when both were juniors. Taichi upset Naito in the G1 this year. With Takagi moving to the heavyweight division, there was a lot of story here and a proving ground for Taichi and Takagi as they tried to earn a reputation as guys that can “go”. Noshigami got a near fall at the end, but Taichi broke it up. Taichi attacked Shingo with his microphone for the rare disqualification finish in under 9 minutes.
Winners: Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi
Thoughts: So far this card has been extremely dull, and outside some excitement that we had near the end of this, there wasn’t much to it. I wished we got some more story. Disqualifications are extremely rare in New Japan, and it really sucks the finish away. No reason Naito couldn’t have gotte a pin on DOUKI and told the same story. As we head towards WK, I have to wonder if they’re building to Naito vs Taichi.
4) KISHIN Liger vs Minoru Suzuki
This is the match we’ve all been waiting for, and where I will begin reviewing the show. For those who need some background on why the title of this match says “KISHIN” and not “Jyushin”: In October 1996, The Great Muta had ripped off Liger’s mask during a match, but Liger stood up and revealed an all white painted face with red streaks, and white body paint, which was a much more aggressive version of Jushin Liger. He named this character KUSHIN Liger. He used the character again in 2006 in a feud with Bad Boy Hido, and again in 2012 against Taichi. In 2019, Minoru Suzuki assaulted Liger during his 30th anniversary, tearing at his mask, telling Liger he did not want to face Jushin, he wanted KISHIN. On September 22nd, the demonic alternative version of Thunder Liger finally returned, attacking Suzuki with a railroad spike, trainers, young lions, and even Hiroshi Tanahashi. Suzuki got his wish, and the match was made for tonight. Jyushin Thunder Liger will be retiring at WrestleKingdom in 2020, this being one of his final single matches.
Kevin Kelly tells us that this match could be considered a blood feud, dating back 17 years. Kelly tells us that Suzuki beat Liger in an MMA match in 2002, which was Liger’s only MMA match in his career. We are told that tonight Jyushin will be wrestling as Battle Liger tonight, which is a different character than either other character we’ve seen leading up to this match, only seeing it in 2012, and only two other times prior to tonight (against Tiger Mask and in 2002 and Hashimoto in 1994). We are told Liger might kill Minoru Suzuki tonight.
They circle around each other, trying to look for any advantage. Liger spits at Suzuki, and lays down on the mat, taunting Suzuki to wrestle him. Suzuki gets on the mat trying to twist him like a preztler and they square away to cheers. Liger into a drop toe hold but Suzuki blocks into a wristlock early! Suzuki is trying to break Liger’s arm, finally Liger gets to the ropes ad Minoru Suzuki is pissed. He lays flat on his mat now, but feigns out and tries to sweep Liger. Liger mounts now, as Suzuki cradles into a leglock but LIier reverses into a TRIANGLE! Suzulo frantic and backs up and gets a break. Liger refuses to break, as the referees warns him several times before breaking. Dropkick rolls Suzuki under the bottom rope. They begin to brawl outside. OW! Liger launches Suzuki chest first at full speed into the barricade. Liger smashes a chair on the cold steel as the referee stops LIger from using it, and Suzuki boots the chair into Liger now. Suzuki crashes Liger into the barricade now, cracking a chair across his back several times and then in the shoulder!
Suzuki wraps Liger’s arm and shoulder around the barricade and tries to break his arm again. Referee breaks it up, and Suzuki berates and chokes the referee. Suzuki begins tearing at the Battle Liger mask to boos. They stand face to face as Suzuki tries to rip it off again as they exchange slaps and chest strikes. On the apron, Suzuki tries to unmask Liger again, and drapes Liger’s arm across the top rope with a cross armbreaker screaming “IM GOING TO BREAK HIS ARM!” swinging back and forth on the ropes to boos. Liger rolling around in a lot of pain. Suzuki is really targeting the arm here.We are reminded that 7 years ago Suzuki wrestled one of the finest wrestling matches ever at King of Pro Wrestling against Hiroshi Tanahashi, but tonight it will be far from that. Huge headbutt drops Liger, before a hard right hand drops him again. Suzuki tells Liger to get up and stops the referee from counting him down. Liger up and open palm strikes, Suzuki with a boot and Liger collapses against the ropes. In the corner, huge boot by Suzuki, LIger blocks the PK! Running forearm chop across the nose and Suzuko shrugs it off and charges out of the corner! FIGHTING SPIRIT!!
Suzuki with elbows and is caught with a hard clothesline by Liger across the jaw to cheers! Capo Kick! Liger tries the Brainbuster into the rear naked choke! Suzuki doesn’t want it to end as he drops a limp Liger, Liger playing possum into a deep octopus double arm bar! Suzuki screaming in pain as Liger twists the shoulder and arm. He’s screaming “ASK HIM!” Suzuki somersaults out of of the hold into the ropes for a break. Liger with a hard kick on the shoulder he just twisted. Twisting armbreaker! Suzuki blocks, but Liger does it again! Suzuki in tremendous amounts of pain. Liger with a third one- NO BLOCKED INTO THE CHOKE! Liger escapes with a snapmare, and Suzuki holds onto the choke on the mat! Liger is fading… Referee lifts the limp arm twice and Liger gets to his feet. Suzuki teases a Gotch, and Liger blocks as the crowd starting to cheer. Liger back body drop! Lou Thesz Press into a pin for two and Suzuki gets out! VERTICAL DROP BRAINSBUSTERRRRRR!!!!! SUZUKI KICKS OUT!!!! ONE OF THE MOST PROTECTED MOVES IN JAPAN!!!! Suzuki kicked out! Liger signals for the end, and Suzuki with a hard dropkick!! Open palm strikes to a prone Liger who can’t protect himself as he stumbles, but roars back with his own fighting spirit! Crowd erupts! Suzuki slaps his own face! This is insane! Liger with his own chest strikes and slaps! Suzuki stares into Liger’s soul and smiles! Suzuki reponds with lightning fast strikes! Liger drops and stands again to cheers, but stumbles before he can connect with a strike. Liger with a slap! Suzuki says more! Forearm! Slap! Slap! Suzuki wants more! HARD STRIKE BY LIGER! Suzuki elbows Liger flat. Referee checking on Liger. Liger up with strikes and they yell in each others face. As hard as anyone can strike, Liger breaks sweat off Suzuki’s chest with an open palm strike, and Suzuki with a quick elbow strike into the Stalling Gotch Style Piledriver. Suzuki gets three for the win in 18 minutes.
Winner: Minoru Suzuki
Thoughts: I honestly went from super excited about this match to disappointed before the bell rang, as I thought this would be Kishin Liger against Suzuki. Battle Liger still was a good character to use, as they absolutely kicked the crap out of each other here. Big, big difference between what we saw here and Liger’s usual stuff. The crowd loved it, it was reminiscent of older New Japan stuff, and both of them knew that. I can’t believe Suzuki kicked out of the Brainbuster. It’s one of the most protected moves in Japanese wrestling. This match was different for so many reasons, but it wasn’t a epic, so I gave it three stars out of five. Great story, electric atmosphere, great strong style, but it ended a little quicker than I was expecting, and as I mentioned, slightly disappointed that it was Battle Liger and not Kishin.
After the match Minoru Suzuki gets a chair and gets in the ring as the young lions tend on Liger, Suzuki tries to destroy Liger once and for all as he raises the chair above his head, and throws it away. He kneels in front of a prone Liger, and bows down to Liger as the fans erupt with cheers! A moment that this crowd will remember forever. The ultimate form of respect. Suzuki marches away quickly as Liger gets helped to his feet. Liger takes a microphone and says “Suzuki, thank you” and throws the mic down as his music hits for one of the last times. The crowd is chanting “LIGER LIGER” as he walks away.
5) El Phantasmo vs IWGP Jr Champion Will Ospreay
IWGP JR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
El Phantasmo won the Super J Cup in August, eliminating Ospreay in the semi-finals. Phantasmo has been haunting and attacking Ospreay at every corner. After Ospreay and Robbie Eagles couldn’t beat Phantasmo and Ishimori for thr Jr Tag Titles, Ospreay said Phantasmo will never beat him for the Jr Heavyweight Title. We are told ELP was able to make it to the show as he was training in the NJPW Dojo when the typhoon hit as the Doho was flooded and the moved memorabilia upstairs all night protecting the history of New Japan. Kevin Kelly told us Bullet Club will not be at ringside during this match as Phantasmo wanted to prove he could beat Ospreay by himself and clean. Ospreay won the Best of the Super Juniors in June, and won the IWGP Jr Championship at Dominion, but if Phantasmo can win here, he would be the reigning RevPro Cruiserweight Champion, one half of the IWGP Jr Tag Champions, the Super J Cup and British J Cup winner. He could sweep all the junior accolades with a win here.
Ospreay refuses a handshake as they lock up. Against the ropes, ELP breaks and taps Ospreay on the chest. Armdrag into a headlock into a press, snapmare, both men flip around to cheers, monkeyflip, missed clothesline, hurricanrana by ELP, Ospreay misses a roundhouse kick to cheers and ELP backs up. Ospreay says he was inches away from winning. Ospreay again refuses a handshake. ELP wants a test of strength and Ospreay accepts as they clash together. ELP forces down Ospreay at first but he fights back and drives ELP down into a bridge. They exchange rolls and flips into a double pin. Both escape into mirror bridges, eyes locked. ELP with a slap in the bridge. Both men up and The Aerial Assassin with his own slap! ELP with a knife edged chop! Ospreay with his own and ELP drops! They exchange forearms and ELP stumbles. Ospreay is fighting for his life, as they come to blows. Ospreay accuses ELP of hitting him in the eye as he drops down. ELP says it was an accident and offers his hand and respectfully lifts Ospreay to his feet to cheers before driving Ospreay throat first in the corner to boos! ELP blocks a forearm, and walks the ropes launching Ospreay outside. Handspring into the ropes, backflip into the superhero pose mocking Ospreay!
Ospreay with a quick Pip Pip Cheerio! HANDSPRING BACK FLIP MOONSAULT OVER THE TOP ROPE! Ospreay drags ELP around ringside to cheers. Ospreay tosses ELP into the crowd!! WOW! He tossed him over ten feet into the commentary teams. Phantasmo with a chair shot out of no where! He says “Whoops” (hahahahah). They’re brawling in the crowd now. Commentary is limited. Phantasmo climbs into a stairwell, as Ospreay meets him on the other side. They’re standing ten feet above concrete. Both of them teetering, Ospreay flips but fights back. OSPREAY TEASES THE STORMBREAKER BUT ELP BLOCKS! Ospreay slips and falls down to the walk way below. SUICIDE CROSSBODY DIVE TO THE FLOOR BY EL PHANTASMO!!!!!! ELP drags Ospreay back to ringside and is in complete control.
Cover in the ring, and Ospreay barely kicks out. ELP sends Ospreay chest into the opposite corner and rakes his back. Ospreay put in the tree of woe. Dropkick to the face! Phantasmo fakes another one and drops a boot in the groin. As Phantasmo poses, Ospreay lifts himself up ad nails a german suplex while in the tree of woe! HARD KNIFE EDGE CHOP in the corner by Ospreay! Ospreay blocks a springboard strike with a dropkick to the chest! Twisting handspring kick to the face! Ospreay poses on the corner, misses a moonsault, misses a standing moonsault, nails a standing shooting star, and a second rope moonsault for two! Ospreay tries a Stormbreaker but ELP blocks. Ospreay signals for the Hidden Blade but ELP blocks. They dodge attacks and ELP with an enzuguiri in the corner! Phantasmo with a Frankensteiner and OSPREAY LANDS ON HIS FEET! ELP escapes the dragonsuplex, ducks the hook kick, step up enzo by ELP! Ospreay blocks a move into a cutter, ELP blocks the OsCutter into a reverse airplane spin! Both me down!
On the apron, El Phantasmo in control, Ospreay blocks the CRII as both men fight on the apron. Ospreay blocks the CRII again, and knocks ELP silly with a roundhouse kick! OS CUTTER TO THE OUTSIDE!!! Both men down as the count begins. Ospreay in at 11, ELP in at 19.98! COAST TO COAST BY OSPREAY! SHOOTING STAR PRESS! Phantasmo kicked out at two and a half! Robinson Special connects! OS CUTTERRRRR!!!! Hooks the leg and Taiji Ishimori pulls the referee out to a lot of boos! Ishimori grabs the IWGP Jr Championship, but Robbie Eagles makes the save and destroys Ishimori with a cannonball through the ropes and drags Ishimori to the back!
ELP grabs the IWGP Jr Championship now, ELP swings, Ospreay ducks, HOOK KICK! ELP is done! HIDDE BLADE MISSES! LOW BLOW BY ELP! Shot with the title to the face! He throws the title outside. ELP to the top, diving splash! Ospreay out at two! Cheeky Nando kick by ELP mocking Ospreay using his own move. Both men up top now. ELP with a spinning reverse fireman carry! Ospreay kicks out again! ELP tries the CRII. Ospreay blocks, BUT ELP NAILS THE STYLES CLASH!!!! OSPREAY KICKS OUT!! V TRIGGER BY ELP! Ospreay reverses the One Winged Angel into a cradle! Kickout! SUPERKICK BY ELP! SPANISH FLY BY Ospreay and both men down!
They’re exchanging blows in the middle of the ring as both men exhausted. They’re empting all they have. ROUNDHOUSE! Forearm! HOOK KICK! ELP is dazed! ROUNDHOUSE! ELP drops to his knees! CANADIAN DESTROYER DDT SPIKES ELP! Ospreay covers and Phantasmo kicks out! Ospreay to the top rope to cheers. Phantasmo kicks the referee into the ropes and Ospreay crumbles. Ospreay blocks the Super CRII on the top rope. Headbutt by ELP! OSPREAY BLOCKS THE SUPER FRANKENSTEINER WITH A POWERBOMB!!!!! Ospreay pulls the elbow pad down…. HIDDEN BLADE! ELP HEAD FELL OFF HIS SHOULDERS! STORMBREAKER! WIN! 28 minutes
Winner AND STILL IWGP Jr Champion: Will Ospreay
Thoughts: You ever watch a match and know you’re watching a breakout match for someone? Think Kenny Omega against KUSHIDA at Dominion 2015, you knew Omega was going to be special soon. This match was that moment for El Phantasmo. Several iconic moments, the suicide crossbody into the walkway was absolutely insane. You don’t see that too much in Japan, and haven’t in a major professional wrestling promotion in a while. They brought out tributes to multiple famous junior heavyweights through wrestling history. The Hidden Blade at the end was brutal. I really don’t like matches that get dirty, but the very minor interference and cheating didn’t affect this match in the least bit, so it’s okay. What a great match between two guys who work so well together. Ospreay’s offense is just so crisp and devestating. His striking ability is unlike anyone else in wrestling. Not KENTA, not Shibata, not Ibushi, no one can compare to how fast he can strike. The Roundhouse near the end was one of the stiffest shots I’ve ever seen, clean on the ear. Really fun stuff.
6) “CHAOS” Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI vs “Bullet Club” Jay White, KENTA, Yujiro Takahashi
This is going to be another quick review, as six man tag matches are often dull affairs, with some stories, but not much consequence. Not sure why this match wasn’t fourth on the card. If anything, a true definition of a crowd break match. Jay White defeated Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Championship at Destruction in Kobe on September 22nd, so Bullet Club has some gold around their waists here (coming up short of another in the previous match).
KENTA dominated most of the match, after beating Ishii for the NEVER Open Championship at Royal Quest, KENTA looks to prove a statement to CHAOS and future NEVER Openweight challengers, but it was Hirooki Goto who laid claim to an opportunity as he pinned Yujiro Takahashi with the GTR as KENTA and Jay White looked on in 12 minutes.
Winners: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI
Thoughts: Average six man tag between two groups of upper mid card guys. You get the usual Bullet Club/Jay White dirty stuff, and KENTA being a prick, but the fans went home happy with this one as Yujiro Takahashi ate the pin. Killed the flow of the show having this here, even if it involves some of the bigger names in the company.
7) Lance Archer vs Juice Robinson
IWGP UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP [vacant]
This match was supposed to be Jon Moxley against Juice Robinson but Moxley could not travel to Japan due to the typhoon. This match was made instead. Lance Archer stepped into this opportunity due to a strong showing in G1 and the Fighting Spirit Tour. Juice Robinson is a former 2 time IWGP US Champion. Lance Archer is a former 3 time IWGP Tag Team Champion, former 4 time NWA Tag Team Champion (2 with Davey Boy Smith and 2 with Kid Kash), former 2 time GHC Tag Team Champion in NOAH, but he’s never held singles gold in a major promotion. Jon Moxley has now missed AEW’s All Out and NJPW’s King of Pro Wrestling in six weeks time for various reasons.
Archer starts trying a chokeslam, Juice a low blow and with an inside cradle for two! Juice with a spear to the outside! Juice immediately grabs a chair and drives it into Archer’s ribs and back! Juice throws Archer full speed into the barricade!! He posts him! Archer down! Juice tries a cannonball but Archer with a big boot on the outside! Juice blocks a chokeslam, but Archer gets it a second time through a table in the crowd! Archer with a steel chair across the back and holds the US Championship up to cheers. Archer tears off the turnbuckle pads in all the corners as this match is about to get dangerous.
Archer gets a chair and threatens the referee as Juice is still crawling around outside. Archer takes chairs and sticks them between the turnbuckles. He assaults Juice one more time for good measure. Archer gets another table and slides it in the ring as Archer is creating his own Murder House now. EVERYBODY DIES as he assaults the Young Lions at ringside. He puts the tables in the corners that don’t have chairs. Archer throws Juice face first into one of the chairs. Juice Robinson dislocated one of his fingers as he looks to be in a bit of pain, showing the finger to the camera. Archer sends Juice into the second chair, and tries a pin but Juice kicks out. Juice’s nose is now busted open as well. Archer grabs Juice’s arm and walks the top rope half way around the entire ring. Juice finally trips him up to cheers. Juice with a headbutt. Robinson tries a superplex and drops Archer back first!! Juice tries a pin and Archer kicks out! Juice with the Dizzy Jabs! Juice tries Left Hand of God, Archer blocks, RIGHT JAB! LEFT HAND OF GOD CONNECTS! Cannonball through the table! Juice with a pin and Archer kicks out.
Juice plays the crowd, Archer reverses Pulp Friction, POUNCE THROUGH THE TABLE IN THE CORNER! Both men down and dazed. Archer rolls outside and goes under the ring looking for more destruction. Juice is outside throwing chairs in the ring on the other side. Archer is getting more chairs. Both in the ring with chairs, Archer misses a swing, Juice misses, Archer with a right hand through the chair into Juice’s face! Juice is flat out! Chokeslam reversed. EBD CLAW! NO JUICE REVERSES INTO THE JUICEBOX! Hooks the leg and Archer kicks out! Juice is stacking chairs in the middle of the ring. Juice sets Archer and tries Pulp Friction, reversed into a Chokeslam onto the pile of chairs!! Archer piles them back together and grabs Juice as he teases the Blackout off the top through the chairs… MURDER HOUSE OPEN FOR BUSINESS!! Archer pins and JUICE KICKS OUT!!!!! Archer slamming Juice’s head into the chairs. EBD CLAW! Three count in the middle of the ring and we have a new IWGP US CHAMPION in 15 minutes!! Lance Archer has done it! WOW! What a upset!
Winner AND NEW IWGP US CHAMPION: Lance Archer
Thoughts: For a impromptu brawl, this was fun. There was a lot of destruction, several tables went kaboom, several chairs were destroyed, and Juice’s finger and face also had better days. Juice wrestled with a dislocated finger most of a match against an opponent he wasn’t planning on facing. Gritty performance for Juice here. Archer gets a great moment as he has arrived in Japan as a singles star.
8) Kota Ibushi vs EVIL
TOYKO DOME CONTRACT MATCH
Kota Ibushi defeated Jay White in the finals of the G1 on August 12th, guaranteeing an opportunity to face the IWGP Champion at WrestleKingdom. He must defend that opportunity here against who many regard as the spiritual successor to big brawlers like Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan in New Japan; “The King of Darkness” EVIL.
EVIL attacks at the bell trying to gain an immediate upper hand to head to the Toyko Dome. EVIL with a strong side headlock early on, wearing down Kota. Kota tries to fight out but EVIL locks it in tighter and harder. Ibushi finally escapes, EVIL with a strong shoulder tackle, Ibushi kips up, and EVIL with another side headlock, dragging this one to the mat. Ibushi up, strikes and kicks EVIL hard. He follows up with multiple mid kicks. EVIL blocks another and drives Ibushi upside down over the top rope with a clothesline! Ibushi back first into the ringside barricade crashing in hard! EVIL with a receipt!
EVIL in control in the ring, swinging neckbreaker and Kota kicks out at one easily. EVIL with knee in the back, angling pressure betwee the shoulder blades but Ibushi powers out but EVIL with a double wrist lock and Ibushi can’t escape. Ibushi tries to leverage. He finally outpowers, and EVIL reverses again, dropping Ibushi to the mat, driving the knee in deep. Ibushi with a desperation mid kick! Martial art kick combo, powerslam, into the moonsault and EVIL kicks out! They exchange tie ups, Ibushi misses a springboard kick, and EVIL ties Ibushi in the corner and drives Ibushi into the mat with a stomp to the heart. EVIL tries a bronco buster, and Ibushi counters into his own double stomp! On the apron, EVIL counters a deadlift german ito a cutter across the top rope! EVIL down outside, Ibushi down inside. EVIL wraps a chair around Ibushi’s head and hits a homerun! Its gone! EVIL crushes Ibushi i the corner and is in complete control. Superplex by EVIL, and Ibushi kicks out at two and a half!
EVIL dodges a dropkick at the 10 minute mark, and EVIL stalks the G1 winner, tries a misdirection lariat, but Ibushi with a headscissors! Both men on the top rope, EVIL with a devestating headbutt, but Ibushi with a springboard hurricanrana off the top! Two count! EVIL blocks the Kamigoye. German suplex by EVIL but Ibushi lands on his feet! Both men try hard forearms and are blocked! LARIATTTTTTTTTTTTT BY EVIL! HOOKS THE LEG! KICK OUT!! EVIL connects with Darkness Falls, Ibushi kicks out! Ibushi reverses Everything Is Evil into a roll up, two! KOTA IBUSHI WITH A BASTARD DRIVER!!!! Ibushi can’t make the cover. LAST RIDE! EVIL kicks out at 2.9! SO CLOSE! Shinsuke Nakamura tribute, LARIAT KILLS IBUSHI DEAD ON HIS FEET TURNING HIM INSIDE OUT!! Both men down! PUMPING BOMBER CONNECTS! EVIL hooks the leg, Ibushi kicks out! IBushi blocks Everything Is Evil, wristlock, waistlock briding german! EVIL rolls through, Kamigoye blocked! Half and half suplex by EVIL! Another half and half suplex! EVIL can’t get the pin… The rug was pulled out from Ibushi as he thought he had it won. LARIAT BY KOTA IBUSHI!!! EVIL flips inside out! Kamigoye reversed into Everything Is Evil but Kota blocks, tries a standing Kamigoye, EVIL WITH A HEADBUTT! Kota with a headbutt! High kick! Jumping Knee, KAMIGOYE! EVIL KICKED OUT!!!!!! EVIL KICKED OUT!!! KAMIGOYE AGAIN! That’s it at 24 minutes.
Winner: Kota Ibushi
Thoughts: This match started so unbelievably slow, it was grueling, but the second half was worth the wait. The winner was basically undeniable, I don’t think we will ever see a G1 winner dropping the contract at King of Pro Wrestling, but if they can give us matches like this, that’s perfectly fine. EVIL dominated this match, one of his best matches of all time. His thunderous powerful offense has begun to find its spot here in New Japan and the crowd just loves him. Ibushi played the come from behind guy well, hitting several quality spots. The last three minutes is just so crisp and exciting.
9) SANADA vs IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
This is the seventh singles meeting between these two, with Okada holding a 5-1 all time record against SANADA, but that one loss is what led to this title match, with SANADA all but eliminating Okada from the G1 (after a 6-0 start) with his upset victory over The Rainmaker. The IWGP Championship has not changed hands at KIng of Pro Wrestling since 2014, when Hiroshi Tanahashi beat AJ Styles.
Okada tries to start off hot with a shotgun dropkick but SANADA side steps, both men with bombs right away. SANADA dodges the Dropkick multiple times. SANADA to the top with the Muta Moonsault but misses, Rainmaker misses, Skull End escaped, and both men miss dropkicks as they square away.
Okada tries a waistlock but SANADA controls and gets up. SANADA with a slow pace, trying to gain any advatage. Okada reverses into a wristlock and SANADA reverses into a backlock, headlock by SANADA, both men against the ropes. Okada teases a strike and taps SANADA’s chest. Hard shoulderblock by Okada knocking SANADA off his feet. Slow neckbreaker by Okada, pins, and SANADA kicks out. Okada with a chinlock and SANADA gets to the ropes, dropkick to the ear knocks the challenger outside, and Okada follows. They exchange blows outside the ring. SANADA back first ito the barricade ad boots SANADA into the crowd! Draping DDT and SANADA reverses, twisting suplex off the barricade face first into the floor! SANADA with a fireman carry dropping Okada rib first on the barricade. Okada rolls in at 17. SANADA pins and gets two. Hard crushing back elbow in the corner by SANADA, snapmare into a pin press and gets two. Headlock by SANADA trying to weaken and drain the life from the champion. Okada blocks a splash with a boot, both men exchange maneuvers, SANADA misses the standing moonsault and Okada with an uppercut and both men down…
Okada kips up first, running forearm, forearm, ducks clotheslines, and drops SANADA with a hooking clothesline of his own! Thumping collison in the corner, SPIKING DDT by Okada, into the cover and SANADA kicks out at two. SANADA Flair flops to the apron, but Okada dropkicks him off the apron to the floor into the barricade. SANADA again into the barricade and again with a boot into the crowd. Okada HIGH SPEED DIVING CROSSBODY OVER THE BARRICADE SENDING SANADA INTO THE CROWD!!! Referee starts to count SANADA out… Okada stops the referee from counting SANADA out at 17 as SANADA stumbles into the ring and collapses at Okada’s feet. A hard right forearm drops SANADA. SANADA to his feet trying to fight back but OKada is just too much dropping SANADA again, followed by a powerslam. Okada to the top rope, SANADA up and leapfrogs Okada into a Dropkick! Springboard suicide splash to the floor byh SANADA as the crowd chanting and cheering for the challenger. SANADA plays up the crowd walking around the ring..
SANADA rolls Okada under the bottom rope and gets Okada in the Paradise Lock to cheers! SANADA plays up the crowd who loves is, SANADA sets and dropkicks the quad, freeing Okada, into the pin for two. Both men exchange counters, SANADA misses the moonsault prelude to Skull End, Shotgun Dropkick sends SANADA into the corner! Okada climbs to the top rope.. MISSILE SHOTGUN DROPKICK FROM THE TOP! Powerslam and Okada back to the top rope. Diving elbowsmash! RAINMAKKKKKKEERRRRRRR POSE!!!!!!!! SANADA ducks the Rainmaker into Skull End, Okada escapes, back into Skull End, cradle for two by Okada, SANADA tries a TKO, Okada escapes, Skull End! Okada reverses into a tombstone attempt but SANADA reverses and drops the champion with a spiking tombstone! TKO! Lateral press pin and two and a half! SANADA locks in the Bodyscissor Skull End in the middle of the ring. Okada trying to flail but SANADA trying to drain the life from Okada. Okada slowly fading… Okada slips out but SANADA locks it back in!! Okada is worse for wear, Okada going limp. Okada slips out again, trying to get to the ropes, but SANADA LOCKS IT IN A FULL BODYSCISSORS! NOT TODAY! SANADA YANKS BACK! This match should be over! Okadas’ eyes are fading. Referee checking on Okada. One hand up and down. Two hands up… Okada fights out into a roll up! Two! SANADA continues the ground mount, maintaining arm control. Okada blocks Skull End. OKada trying for leverage, SANADA trying for SKull End, flips and RAINMAKER!!!!!!! Okada took a few extra moments before trying a pin and SANADA kicked out!
Both men on their knees giving each other their all as we approach the 30 minute mark.. SANADA with hard forearms. Okada with an elbow. SANADA with a strike, Both men up. Okada with a hard forearm to the chin. Forearm by SANADA! Back and forth! Faster and harder! Uppercut by Okada! SANADA with an uppercut of his own. Okada with an uppercut. SANADA stumbles Okada with a uppercut! Okada with another! SANADA responds! Okada drops to the mat! Okada ducks a rolling elbow, SANADA ducks Rainmaker, Okada reverses Skull End into his own! Dropkick to back of the head! DROPKICK OFF THE ROPES! SANADA ducks Rainmaker, cutter out of the corner into the SKULL END! Okada fading! His arm dropping limp. SANADA spins the champion and drops in the hooks! Okada looks out! His eyes are grey! SANADA rolls Okada away from the ropes! Referee checking on Okada….. is he out? Okada eyes are closed. Referee asking Okada if he’s still with us. Referee checks the hand… Okada waving a fourth of a inch in a circle. SANADA tries a cover and OKADA KICKS OUT! MUTO MOONSAULT!!!!!! TRIES ANOTHER AND OKADA GETS THE KNEES UP! Both me down! SANADA could have gone to WrestleKingdom right there but he wanted to send a message and paid the price! Okada is out, stumbling around, barely able to grab the ropes, dazed. SANADA first to his feet as the crowd erupts. Okada with a defensive desperation boot, Moonsault into Skull End! Okada reverses into his own Skull End, TOMBSTONE! RAINMAKER BLOCKED WITH A BOOT! Rainmaker ducked! O’connor roll and the crowd is going crazy! TWO! ONLY TWO! RAINMAKER DUCKED! Tombstone reversed into Skull END! SANNADA SPINS THE CHAMPION AROUND, Okada armdrags out! Dropkick at the 35 minute mark! Rainmaker ducked, Okada ducks SANADA’s Rainmaker, popup dropkick! ROLLING ELBOW BY SANADA! OKada blocks the twisting cutter into the tombstone but SANADA tries to choke him, Michinoku Driver by OKada RAINMAKERRRRRRRRRRR GETS THREE! And still IWGP CHAMPION AT 37 MINUTES KAZUCHIKA OKADA!
Winner AND STILL IWGP Champion: Kazuchika Okada
Thoughts: They were testing the waters here, this was a fantastic match that told an awesome story. For all intents ad purposes if we were grading points, SANADA would be our new champion after this, after countering everything Okada had at every step of the way, completely draining him not once but twice with Skull End. But it wasn’t enough, and the Rainmaker finally connected for the successful defense as we look forward to Kazuchika Okada vs Kota Ibushi. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to that and I don’t think Ibushi will win. I would really love to see these two at it. I loved their New Japan Cup match, I loved their G1 match, and I loved this match. SANADA is often criticized for sandbagging matches, but Okada brings the best out of him. I think we saw the dawning of SANADA here and I think he will win G1 in 2020. Okada is still our champ, SANADA won our hearts and minds.
Overall Show Grade: 6/10
Overall Show Thoughts: King of Pro Wrestling is often regarded as a premier event, citing Minoru Suzuki/Tanahashi in 2012, and Tanahashi/Okada in 2013 as examples of some of the best matches in the modern era, in wrestling period both taking place at this event. Tonight had some amazing matches, but it also had it’s fair share of clunkers. All the tags were less than special, really not moving the meter much.
Top 5 Stars:
2) Minoru Suzuki/Jyushin Liger
3) El Phantasmo
4) Will Ospreay
5) Kazuchika Okada
Mitchell’s NJPW New Year Dash Results & Report! (1/6/21)
Happy New Year Dash!!
NJPW keeps things rolling even after WrestleKingdom 15!
Nothing slows down in NJPW! WrestleKingdom 15’s fallout is felt here on New Year Dash 2021!! Will Sanada build momentum against Kota Ibushi tonight?
NOTE: NJPW no longer wants to feed AXS TV now that it is with Anthem and Impact Wrestling. But never fear, I will cover NJPW in the spirit of AXS in providing the most important matches of the show.
- Six Man Tag: The Empire VS Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yota Tsuji; The Empire wins.
- 8 Man Tag: Suzuki-Gun VS Bullet Club; Bullet Club wins.
- 10 Man Tag: Chaos VS Bullet Club; Chaos wins.
- 10 Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS Master Wato, Sho, Rocky Romero & Golden Aces; LIJ wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
Six Man Tag: The Empire VS Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yota Tsuji!
Rather shockingly, Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb all LOST at WrestleKingdom 15! But can they all rebound and redeem themselves together?
The Empire doesn’t give Tenzan’s team time to sort out, they attack the moment all six are in the ring! Khan clubs Tenzan, Ospreay throws Kojima out and Cobb is after young lion Yota Tsuji! The bell rings to put this on record and Ospreay continues after Kojima while Cobb throws Tsuji out. Khan clubs Tenzan more while Cobb headbutts Tsuji and Ospreay throws Kojima into the apron. Khan CHOPS Tenzan, pushes him against ropes and CHOPS him again! Khan clubs Tenzan, taunts him, but Tenzan headbutts low and kicks. Khan stops Tenzan from using the Mongolian Chops, and he puts some stank on his hands. Tenzan kicks Khan before Khan can Mongolian Chop!
Tenzan headbutts Khan to a corner, kicks and CHOPS him, then CHOPS again. Fans fire up as Tenzan headbutts more! Tenzan clubs Khan, whips him corner to corner and runs in to clothesline! Tenzan fires up and suplexes Khan up and over! Cover, TWO! Fans rally up and Tenzan pulls Khan’s hair. The ref reprimands, Tenzan stomps Khan and throws more headbutts. Khan blocks the Mongolian to give the Mongolian CHOPS! And more Mongolian CHOPS! But Tenzan headbutts and Mongolian CHOPS! Fans fire up as Tenzan chokes Khan! The ref counts, Tenzan stops, but Tenzan tells the ref to back off as he stomps Khan.
Tenzan brings Khan up, Khan slips out of the slam to get the arm! Ospreay BLASTS the corner, and clubs Kojima down! Tenzan crawls and gets the ropebreak! Khan cranks the Fujiwara armbar harder until the ref counts 4. Khan stomps Tenzan, drags him up and wrenches the arm to wrap on the ropes! The ref counts, Tenzan lets off to Mongolian CHOP that arm! Khan drags Tenzan up, bumps him off buckles and clubs him! Khan sits on Tenzan in the corner! Fans rally as Khan taunts Tenzan’s team! The ref counts and Khan hops off at 3. Khan clubs Tenzan, tags Cobb, then sucker punches Tsuji and Kojima!
Cobb headbutts and clubs Tenzan, stalks him as he crawls, then knocks Kojima off the apron. Tenzan throws body shots but Cobb CLUBS him down! Cobb drags Tenzan up, hauls him up, and rams him into the Empire’s corner! Ospreay tags in, Khan claws Tenzan’s face and Ospreay throws hands! Ospreay CHOPS Tenzan, throws forearms, then boots Tenzan down! Ospreay stands on Tenzan’s throat but the ref counts. Ospreay stops at 4 and fans rally up. Ospreay clamps onto Tenzan’s arm but Tenzan fights free. Ospreay runs but Tenzan WINDMILL KICKS! Fans fire up and Tenzan crawls to his corner, hot tag to Kojima!
Kojima hits Khan and Cobb and fans fire up with him as he MACHINE GUN CHOPS Ospreay! Kojima whips and runs in to forearm Ospreay, then pushes him down! Ospreay is right up to ROCK Kojima! Ospreay rolls Kojima, goes to the apron and springboards in but Kojima dodges Pip Pip Cheerio! Kojima kicks low and hits a DDT! Fans fire up as Kojima brings Ospreay up. Kojima fires off forearms, spins, but Ospreay blocks to forearm back! Ospreay body shots with an elbow, then reels Kojima in. Kojima fights the waistlock, cravats but Ospreay powers out to ROLLING ELBOW! And a suplex! Ospreay grits his teeth, tags Cobb in, and Cobb drags Kojima up.
Kojima throws forearms, whips but Cobb reverses to get the ATHLETIC PLEX! Cover, TWO! Fans fire up but Cobb drags Kojima up to scoop. Kojima slips off and swats Cobb’s punch away to COZY CUTTER! Fans fire up as Kojima hot tags Tsuji! The young lion BLASTS the Empire corner, fires off on Cobb, then whips! Cobb reverses, they collide but neither falls! They ram each other again and again and Cobb actually staggers! Tsuji runs in for a leaping forearm! Tsuji runs Cobb over! LEAPING SPLASH! Cover, TWO! Tsuji has the veterans hit the Empire down, and then Tsuji suplexes! Cobb blocks, fans rally, and Tsuji fires off forearms! But it’s Cobb who suplexes Tsuji!
Tsuji slips out, waistlocks, but Cobb switches to shove! Tsuji leaps, into Cobb’s arms! Cobb RAMS Tsuji into buckles, then hits an OKLAHOMA STAMPEDE! Cover, but Kojima breaks it! Tenzan and Kojima stomp Cobb, have him on ropes, and then double whip. Cobb fights off the combo move, Ospreay DECKS Kojima! Khan BOOTS Tenzan! The Empire coordinates, drags Tsuji up, and Ospreay goes to the corner while Khan and Cobb lift Tsuji up! IMPERIAL OSCUTTER!! Cover, The Empire wins!
Winners: The Empire, by pinfall
They have redeemed themselves, but they’re not done! Ospreay rains down furious fists on Tsuji and Khan adds his kicks. Tenzan gets in to go after the Empire, but Khan Mongolian CHOPS over and over! Khan drags Tenzan back up, scoops and TENZAN TOMBSTONE DRIVERS!! The Empire stomps away on Tenzan but Kojima shields him, so he gets beat up, too! Ospreay even shoves the ref out of the ring! Cobb sits Kojima up for Ospreay’s HIDDEN BLADE!
Ospreay gets the mic and he says, “Do you think we’re weak?” Ospreay is weak? Cobb is weak? Khan is weak? They don’t look weak now, do they? They look pretty strong! “You think I was angry before WrestleKingdom, now I’m pissed off!” They will not be defined by what happened at WK15! The Empire will be united, and 2021 will be the year they take over! Khan says it in Japanese that Ospreay, Priestly, Cobb and himself are the UNITED Empire!!
After Ospreay leads his team away, medics check on Tenzan. That brutal TTD did some serious damage, and a backboard is needed. Kojima stays by his friend’s side as a neck brace is put on, as well. Fans clap for Tenzan, will he be able to return to the ring? Or will another have to avenge him against The United Empire?
8 Man Tag: Suzuki-Gun VS Bullet Club!
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru are still IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, but the Dangerous Tekkers lost the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships to the Guerrillas of Destiny! Will Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa help Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasma get a leg up on the Rogue Luchador and Heel Master so that Bullet Club can have even more gold?
Douki and Jado are threatening each other with their respective sticks as the teams sort out. Things are tense, and then just explode into a brawl! Taichi chokes Tama, Loa throws ZSJ out, Kanemaru is after ELP and Desperado stomps Ishimori! The ref has the bell ring just to get it on record as Loa saves Tama from Taichi, only for Taichi to choke Loa! Ishimori attacks Taichi and then calls ELP in. They double whip Taichi but Taichi holds ropes to then choke them both! Fans fire up but Jado gets on the apron. Taichi chokes Jado! Tama runs in but is sent into Jado!
Taichi chokes Tama to a corner, ZSJ adds on, and the ref counts at the Tekkers! The Tekkers finally stop at 4 and Taichi tells the ref to shut up. Suzuki-Gun all dig their boots into Tama but stop as the ref counts. ZSJ tags in, Taichi stomps Tama on the way out and ZSJ snapmares Tama for a NECK CRANK! ZSJ drags Tama up by his ears, puts him back in the corner and Kanemaru tags in. Kanemaru grabs the leg to trip Tama, and he KNEES Tama down! Kanemaru stomps and clubs Tama, tags in Desperado, and they stomp Tama down. Desperado taunts Bullet Club then stomps Tama more. Taichi gets his shots in but Desperado brings Tama up, only for Tama to suplex!
Desperado fights free to stomp Tama’s foot! Desperado runs but Tama plays up the foot pain to distract him, and Jado kendo stick SMACKS Desperado! Bullet Club rushes out, Tama clobbers Desperado while the others hit Suzuki-Gun! ELP and Loa mug ZSJ, Jado SMACKS Douki and then Bullet Club focuses on Desperado. Loa hits Taichi as he gets in while ELP drags Desperado to the corner. Tama chokes Desperado but the ref counts. Tama lets go, ELP and Ishimori choke Desperado now! Tama comes back to tag Loa and they bring Desperado up. Loa headbutts Desperado down, Jado gets in Desperado’s face and Loa chokes Desperado on the ropes.
The ref counts, Loa lets off but Jado uses the kendo stick to choke Desperado! Suzuki-Gun protests but Loa drags Desperado up. Taichi storms in anyway but Loa ROCKS him! Loa throws Taichi out at his team, Ishimori and Jado go after Desperado with chokes! Loa stands on Desperado at the ropes, Douki goes after Jado but gets another SMACK! ELP talks smack on Douki and then tags in. ELP climbs up, Loa holds Desperado, jumping CLAWS to the back! ELP drags Desperado up, tags Ishimori in, and Ishimori also jumping CLAWS Desperado! Fans rally as Ishimori wraps Desperado up. Desperado throws elbows to get free but Ishimori elbows him down.
Ishimori taunts Suzuki-Gun, drags Desperado up but Desperado throws hands. Ishimori snapmare and neck CRANKS! ZSJ gets in but the ref backs him down. Ishimori pushes Desperado to the corner and tags in Loa. The ref is busy with Suzuki-Gun and Loa stands on Desperado’s neck! Desperado flails and ELP gives Desperado PURPLE NURPLES! The ref finally gets Suzuki-Gun to calm down and Loa stalks Desperado. Fans rally, Loa back suplexes but Desperado rakes eyes to get free! Desperado crawls, Loa brings him up, and Loa blocks the straight right! But Desperado pokes him in the eyes! And ROCKS Loa!
Tag to ZSJ and ZSJ runs to EuroUpper Loa into a corner! And again! And again! Loa fires up, ZSJ throws more EuroUppers, but Loa DECKS ZSJ with a forearm! ZSJ fires up and fires off more EuroUppers! Loa ROCKS ZSJ, runs, but ZSJ dodges and leaps to GUILLOTINE FACELOCK! Fans cheer but Loa stays standing, to RAM ZSJ into a corner! But ZSJ holds on tight! Loa powers up again to RAM ZSJ into another corner! ZSJ still holds on tight! Fans fire up but Loa throws body shots. Loa powers out to suplex but ZSJ just drags Loa down to a TRIANGLE HOLD! Tama and Taichi get in, DRAGON SLEEPER!
Kanemaru DECKS ELP then gets Ishimori in a HALF CRAB! Suzuki-Gun has triple submissions! Taichi and Kanemaru let Tama and Ishimori go as ZSJ drags Loa around into a deeper triangle! Loa endures, fights up, dead lifts, but ZSJ wrenches to PELE the arm! ZSJ boots the clothesline then BOOTS Loa! ZSJ runs into Loa’s SPEAR! Fans rally up as both men are down! ZSJ crawls but so does Loa, hot tags to Kanemaru and ELP! ELP dodges Kanemaru, knees low but Kanemaru reverses the whip. ELP elbows Kanemaru away but Kanemaru uses the ref as shield!
Kanemaru dropkicks the legs out, Desperado DECKS Ishimori, then the Junior Heavyweight Tag champs coordinate, dropkick back suplex! Kanemaru scoops ELP to a dragon sleeper, BRITISH FALL! Cover, TWO! Fans fire up as Kanemaru climbs up the corner. ELP rises, Kanemaru leaps but ELP ducks under! Ishimori seated sentons Kanemaru, but runs into Desperado’s SPINEBUSTER! Tama gives Desperado a TONGAN TWIST! Taichi AX BOMBERS Tama! Loa ENZIGURIS Taichi! ZSJ PENALTY KICKS Loa! ELP Superkicks but into an ANKLE LOCK! ELP rolls and throws ZSJ out, Kanemaru returns but the whiskey shot misses!
ELP rolls Kanemaru, TWO! Kanemaru rolls ELP, TWO! ELP rakes eyes! ELP runs, Kanemaru uses the ref as a shield but ELP gives him back! Kanemaru dodges the superkick to ENZIGURI! Kanemaru brings ELP in, suplexes, but ELP slips out to shove. Ishimori gets a cheap shot in but Kanemaru DECKS him! ELP SUPERKICKS! Cover, Bullet Club wins!!
Winners: Bullet Club, by pinfall
It seems GoD did help ELP and Ishimori get a pin on the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions! ELP grabs the Junior Tag titles as if they’re his and Ishimori’s already but Desperado gets in! But Ishimori sneaks up on him, tilt-o-whirls and drives Desperado down! Douki and the Tekkers run Bullet Club off, but will 2021 be just… too… SWEEEEET~?
10 Man Tag: Chaos VS Bullet Club!
Toru Yano is the provisional Mr. KOPW 2021, the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championships still belong to Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi, and The Rainmaker is still The Rainmaker! But will Jay White redeem himself alongside his faction?
The factions sort out, after Yano plugs all his stuff, and Owens gets impatient. The Crown Jewel wants to take on Mr. KOPW 2021, so Bullet Club lets him start. Bullet Club gives a Low Sweet, and Owens calls Yano out. Yano accepts the challenge, and fans rally behind Yano already. Yano and Owens circle, Yano stays back to ropes but then sees Gedo is up to something. Red Shoes looks at Gedo but Owens knees Yano low! Owens whips but Yano holds ropes. Owens kicks low, whips again but Yano reverses. Owens holds ropes, bails out and goes after the KOPW trophy! Yano keeps Owens from tossing the trophy, kicks Owens, but Fale attacks Yano!
Fale puts Yano in, Owens pursues but Yano gets away to tag in Goto! Owens backs away to tag Tokyo Pimp. Goto and Yujiro circle, Yujiro kicks low. Yujiro headlocks, Goto powers out and the two collide. Neither falls, Yujiro runs again and they collide again, but still no one falls. Yujiro runs but Goto runs him over! Goto drags Yujiro up, headlocks, grinds, but Yujiro BITES the hand! No one ever learns! Hashi gets in to kick Yujiro but Yujiro forearms. Hashi CHOPS, whips, Yujiro reverses but Hashi dropkicks Yujiro’s legs out! Fans fire up with the Headhunter as he brings Yujiro up. Yujiro bites Hashi’s hand, too! Yujiro throws Hashi out, runs at Goto and BOOTS him in the corner!
Yujiro rolls Goto to run but Goto dodges and Hashi basement dropkicks! Owens gets in, Hashi kicks, he and Goto double whip. Hip toss senton! Fale runs in but they dodge and Ishii rocks him! Double shoulder tackle! Evil runs in but the Six Man Tag Champs all hammer away! Dick Togo gets up but they drag Dick in! Okada and Yano join in, and all five hammer away! Fans fire up for Chaos as Dick crawls away. Tag to Okada, Okada clubs Yujiro then drags him up for a forearm. Okada whips, Yujiro reverses but Okada dodges, only for Evil to trip him! Evil tags in and works with Yujiro to double whip. Okada kicks Yujiro, pushes Evil into him, then kicks Evil for the DDT! Cover, TWO!
Okada clap-clap-clap-stomps and fans follow. But Dick takes a swipe! Okada glares at Dick but Evil clotheslines him out! Bullet Club blasts Chaos off the corner! Evil goes out to stomp Okada down, then he finds chairs from under the ring! Evil whips Okada into railing, Evil puts a chair around Okada’s head, and then hits the HOME RUN! Bullet Club regroups as Evil stands on Okada’s head. White talks trash, Evil drags Okada up as the ring count passes 10 of 20 to put him in at 14. Cover, but Red Shoes refuses because of all the shenanigans. White protests but Red Shoes doesn’t care. Evil stands on Okada’s head, then stomps Okada down.
Tag to White, he drags Okada up for a neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! White tags Owens and they mug Okada. Owens brings Okada up, whips him to a corner and hits a forearm smash to clothesline! Cover, TWO! Owens drags Okada over, tags Fale in, and they stand on Okada! Yujiro adds onto the “massage!” Red Shoes is busy with Chaos as they protest, and Bullet Club gets away with it all. Fale covers, TWO! Fans cheer and rally up for Okada but White tags back in. White puts Okada in the corner, rams his shoulder in over and over, then pushes Okada down. White slaps Okada around, then mockingly pats him on his head. Okada stares White down so White rakes his eyes!
White EuroUppers Okada but Okada hits back. Yujiro and Evil rake Okada’s eyes and White digs his boots in! Ishii attacks and fights Bullet Club off! Evil hotshots Ishii down and Owens anchors Okada’s feet! Owens and White drag Okada out to throw him into barriers! Evil mule kicks Okada then claws at Okada’s face! Evil puts Okada back in for White to cover, TWO! Fans rally up but White tags Evil. Fale and the others hit Chaos while White and Evil double whip Okada. Bullet Club starts a string of attacks! Owens forearms, Yujiro boots, Evil clotheslines, Fale splashes, and then Evil mule kicks to FISHERMAN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!!
Okada survives but Bullet Club attacks Chaos on the outside! Fans rally up, Evil and White mock their clapping, and Evil drags Okada up. Evil fireman’s carries, Okada fights free and gets the MONEY CLIP! Evil powers Okada to buckles and breaks free, but runs into boots! Okada pops Evil up to the Alabama, REVERSE NECKBREAKER! Okada and Evil are down but fans rally up! Evil and Okada crawl, hot tags to White and Ishii! The Stone Pitbull swings on White but White dodges. Ishii dodges back, they switch waistlocks, Ishii spins White but White fights off the suplex! White wrenches but Ishii fights the urenage, only for White to suplex.
White forearms, Ishii roars and forearms back! Ishii whips, White reverses, Ishii bounces off buckles but White ROCKS him! White runs but Ishii hits the POWERSLAM! Chaos hits Bullet Club back! Goto and Hashi whip White and then Goto whips Hashi, Hashi CHOPS White! Goto clotheslines White, they feed White to Yano’s atomic drop, and Ishii’s GERMAN SUPLEX! Cover, TWO!! Ishii keeps his focus as Chaos and Bullet Club brawl outside. Ishii drags White up, reels him in, but Gedo distracts! Ishii storms over to Gedo but White boots, only for Ishii to block! Ishii ROCKS White, runs in but White dodges to kick and DDT! Both men are down and fans fire up.
White hobbles, Ishii goes to a corner but White runs in to EuroUpper! White suplexes for BLADE BUSTER! Cover, TWO!! White grits his teeth as fans rally up. White drags Ishii up, reels him in, but Ishii fights the urenage. White gets a leg for a DRAGON SCREW! Yano gets in and throws White down by his hair! Owens knees Yano, whips but Yano throws him down by his hair! Fale runs in but Yano dumps him out! Yujiro reverse DDT’s Yano, Hashi SUPERKICKS Yujiro! White knees Hashi, but runs into Goto’s fireman’s carry! SUPERKICK USHIGOROSHI! SLIDING LARIAT!! Cover, Evil breaks it!
Okada throws Evil out and tells Ishii to finish it! Ishii fires up, fans fire up with him, and Gedo panics! Ishii watches White rise, runs, but White blocks the clothesline! Ishii fights out of the sleeper, then out of Blade Runner, only to run into SNAP SLEEPER SUPLEX! White drags Ishii up, but Ishii spins through to BRAIN BUSTER!! Cover, Ishii and Chaos win!!
Winners: Chaos, by pinfall
If the Switchblade didn’t want to quit before, he might now! Chaos stands tall together, will they stand atop NJPW even now?
10 Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS Master Wato, Sho, Rocky Romero & Golden Aces!
Tetsuya Naito is no longer IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Double Champion, but Sanada is looking to bring those belts back to LIJ! Kota Ibushi rejoins Hiroshi Tanahashi and some other friends to take on the ungovernables, but will he be rolling into his rematch with the Cold Skull?
The teams sort out, and after a photo op for Ibushi’s team, High Voltage steps up. LIJ has the group fist bump, and the Timebomb starts. Fans cheer as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion goes forehead to forehead with Sho. Sho shoves and forearms, Hiromu forearms back, and we’re already fast and furious! Fans rally as the two keep going back and forth, and Hiromu likes it! He and Sho keep throwing forearms, Sho staggers first but he comes back for more! Sho rocks Hiromu now and eggs him on! Hiromu grins as he throws more forearms, and Sho gives them back! Hiromu eggs Sho on and Sho throws more, but Hiromu gives them back!
Sho ROCKS Hiromu, runs, but they ram shoulders and neither falls. Things speed up as Sho dodges and ducks to run Hiromu over! Sho throws more forearms and puts Hiromu in the corner. Hiromu fires up but Sho knocks him down and digs his boots in! Red Shoes counts, Rocky tags in and he has Sho cool off. Fans rally, Rocky goes to Hiromu but Hiromu throws a forearm! Rocky forearms back over and over, then ROCKS Hiromu with a right! Hiromu ends up in a corner, fans fire up with Rocky and he starts up the Forever Lariats! Hiromu boots back, then elbows Rocky away. Wato gets in but Hiromu puts him on the apron.
Hiromu ROCKS Wato, but Rocky grabs Hiromu for Wato’s springboard dropkick! Cover, TWO! Rocky looms over Hiromu and brings him up to CHOP! Fans fire up as Rocky eggs Hiromu on, and Hiromu CHOPS back! Rocky CHOPS, eggs Hiromu on more, but Hiromu CHOPS again! Hiromu eggs Rocky on and Rocky kicks low. Rocky whips, Naito trips Rocky and Hiromu dropkicks Rocky out while LIJ goes after the team! Hiromu goes out after Rocky to whip him into railing! Sanada, Takagi and Bushi club Wato and the Golden Aces as well as Sho. Bushi headlocks Wato while Naito joins in to go after Sho. Hiromu digs his boots into Rocky, then tags in Bushi.
LIJ mugs Rocky, Bushi CHOPS and clubs Rocky down. Bushi snapmares and chinlocks Rocky, then claws his face! Red Shoes counts, Bushi stops at 3, then tags in Takagi. Takagi facelocks and elbows Rocky down then hits the corner! Takagi lets Tanahashi get off easy and he goes back to Rocky. Takagi cravats Rocky, snapmares and runs to then hit Tanahashi after all! Fans cheer as Takagi steps on Rocky then drops a big elbow! And another! And then the back senton! Rocky flounders, Takagi storms over and sits him up to elbow over and over and over! Cover, TWO! Rocky is still in this and fans cheer, but Takagi tags to Naito.
Naito brings Rocky up as fans rally and Naito ROCKS Rocky with forearms! Naito throws more forearms, whips Rocky corner to corner then runs in, rocket kick! COMBINACION CABRON! Fans cheer as Naito poses. Naito scuffs Rocky while fans rally up. Rocky gets up as Naito gives more toying kicks. Rocky throws forearms but Naito eggs him on! Naito fakes Rocky out to then rake the eyes! Red Shoes reprimands, but Naito turns Rocky, only for Rocky to fight out of the neckbreaker! Rocky kicks but Naito blocks and Naito toys with Rocky as he stays out of reach. Bushi clubs Rocky on the back! Red Shoes reprimands but Naito stomps Rocky to ropes.
Naito and Bushi double whip, Rocky ducks under and DOUBLE RANAS! Fans fire up as Rocky crawls to his corner. Naito also crawls, hot tag to Sanada, and he DECKS Ibushi before the tag! Sanada whips Rocky but Rocky RANAS Sanada! Now Rocky and Sanada are both down, Rocky hot tags Ibushi! Ibushi hits LIJ’s corner then goes after his challenger! Ibushi forearms and whips but Sanada reverses, only for Ibushi to FLYING KICK! Fans rally with “I-BU-SHI!” as Ibushi drags Sanada up. Sanada throws forearms but Ibushi ducks to KICK him down! Sanada ducks the Penalty Kick but the standing moonsault hits! Cover, TWO! Ibushi keeps his cool and he drags Sanada up.
Ibushi waistlocks, Sanada backs him down to a corner! Sanada runs in but blocks a boot to reel Ibushi in. Ibushi kicks Sanada away before Paradise, then sunset flips! Sanada rolls through to get Ibushi into Paradise! Fans fire up and Sanada encourages them to get louder! Sanada is satisfied with the volume and he dropkicks Ibushi out of Paradise! Cover, TWO! Fans rally with “SA-NA-DA!” now as he fireman’s carries Ibushi. Ibushi fights out, shoves and runs in at the corner but Sanada elbows! Sanada Quebrada but Ibushi gets under, only to run into the fireman’s carry! Ibushi slips off to dragon sleeper, but Sanada spins that around for his own!
Ibushi fights free, Sanada ducks a kick to give a kick. Sanada whips, Ibushi reverses but Sanada tumbles out to springboard back in! Both men are down and fans fire up! Sanada and Ibushi crawl, hot tags to Takagi and Tanahashi! The Ace dodges the Dragon but they brawl with forearms all the same! Fans rally as Takagi ROCKS Tanahashi, whips, but Tanahashi forearms back! Tanahashi hits LIJ’s corner then runs at Takagi, but he blocks a boot! Tanahashi DRAGON SCREWS the Dragon! Fans fire up with Tanahashi as he runs, but Takagi follows to clothesline! Takagi runs, Tanahashi gets around, TWIST ‘N’ SHOUT! Takagi steals Twist ‘n’ Shout?!
Fans fire up with “OI! OI! OI!” and Tanahashi goes to a corner. Takagi runs in to clothesline! Tanahashi fires off a strike fest then runs, but into the elbow! JAB! But Tanahashi SHOTEIS, only for Takagi to DISCUS! Fans fire up as both men are down! Takagi tags Bushi and Bushi climbs up the corner. Bushi aims at Tanahashi, missile dropkick! Bushirooni! Bushi drags Tanahashi up, fisherman but no screw, just TWIST ‘N’ SHOUT! Both men are down, Tanahashi crawls and tags in Wato! Wato fires off kicks and KICKS Bushi down! Wato drags Bushi up, whips to ropes and hurdles to back elbow, back hand and SOBAT!
Bushi staggers to a corner, Wato runs in but is put on the apron. Wato kicks Bushi away, springboards in, FLYING UPPERCUT! Cover, TWO! Fans fire up, Wato drags Bushi up and KICKS away from both sides! Bushi writhes and Wato aims again, but Bushi ducks the buzzsaw to shove! Naito kicks, Bushi sunset flips to send Wato into Naito’s basement dropkick! LIJ hits the corner, Bushi drags Wato up and FISHERMAN SCREWS! Bushi goes to the corner and climbs up. Wato rises, Bushi leaps, M- No, Wato gets under! Rocky gets in to JUMPING KNEE Bushi! Naito dropkicks Rocky’s legs out! Sho LARIATS Naito, Hiromu and Sho collide but Hiromu ranas!
Sho blocks to lift, but Hiromu slips out of the bomb to SUPERKICK! Wato LEG LARIATS Hiromu! Wato dodges Bushi, DREAMCAST KICK! Fans fire up as Wato drags Bushi up. Wato wrenches, reels Bushi in, but no Mouse Trap! Bushi slips out, Wato BACK HANDS him down! Wato whips Bushi corner to corner, runs in but Bushi dodges! Takagi corner clotheslines Wato, feeds to Sanada’s kick, calm ‘n’ fury combo! Bushi BACKSTABBERS! Cover, the Golden Aces break it! Sanada throws Ibushi out, Takagi throws Tanahashi out, and Bushi wrenches Wato to hook him up, INVERTED PAGE TURNER?! Cover, TWO!?! Wato survives but Bushi doesn’t lose focus. Bushi goes up, takes aim at Wato, M X!! Cover, LIJ wins!
Winners: Los Ingobernables de Japon, by pinfall
The Death Mask downs the Grandmaster and wins for the team! But even so, Tanahashi stares down Takagi and Sho stares down Hiromu. Do they have the NEVER Openweight and IWGP Junior Heavyweight titles in their sights? Of course, the same goes for Sanada wanting both of Ibushi’s belts. As Ibushi’s team takes its leave, Bushi gets the mic. “Too bad for you, Kawato, but I beat you tonight. Coming out of WrestleKingdom, it’s me and Naito with our hands in our pockets.” Naito seems a bit surprised to hear that.
Takagi has the NEVER title, Hiromu has the Junior title, and Sanada has lined up a title match. What about the rest of them? Bushi wants after Kawato! Try as he might, Wato will never beat Bushi, because Bushi won’t allow it. “In 2021, this ring will belong to us. EN SERIO! MA-JI-DE!” Hiromu sets his BOSJ 27 trophy and title belt up front as he and LIJ pose together. Will 2021 truly be El Ano del Ingobernables?
This was a pretty fun New Year Dash. Yes I skipped some things, but Yuji Nagata was of course going to beat a Young Lion, and Tiger Mask was teamed with a Young Lion so his team was losing. The Empire didn’t get to have any of their moments at WK15 but they seem to be using that to justify having their moment today, and then making the rest of 2021 their year. If they are not the United Empire, perhaps they will go after the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championships. If they can’t beat Okada, they can at least take their frustrations out on the rest of Chaos.
Chaos stands tall over the part of Bullet Club they fought, so it’d be a good story for 2021 that the apparent top faction has to fight the newest one. The other part of Bullet Club wins the 8 Man Tag to set up a Junior Heavyweight tag title match, which I’m sure is going to be really good stuff. LIJ VS Ibushi and friends was a lot of fun, but with everything being set up between the respective wrestlers, LIJ wins to go strong into the rest of the year. It is clear we’re getting Takagi VS Tanahashi, Hiromu VS Sho and Ibushi VS Sanada, and I suppose Bushi VS Wato will make for a good story. Perhaps bring Naito and Taguchi into it since Taguchi teams with Wato, and because Naito needs something to do.
My Score: 8.2/10
Andrew’s NJPW New Year Dash Results & Match Ratings 1.6.21
Not the flashiest NJPW event, but it sets the ground work for 2021 stories! Check out NJPW New Year Dash!!
Some of the fun here is the fact that the cards are announced day of, and they’re supposed to kick off the new stories.
We will of course get some solid action, but it will be tied up in multi-man tags and story driven finishes. So many people may not care, and I can’t fault anyone for that. But for anyone interested, here’s the direction that New Japan is going in 2021.
- Yuji Nagata vs Gabriel Kidd: Nagata wins via Nagata Lock 2 @7:59 – ** ¼
- Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI vs Tiger Mask IV & Yuya Uemura: Suzuki wins via Gotch Style Piledriver @10:45 – *** ¼
- The United Empire (Will Ospreay w/Bea Priestley, Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Yota Tsuji: Empire wins via Assisted Oscutter @9:44 – ***
- Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, ZSJ & El Deperado vs Guerrillas of Destiny, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo: ELP wins via Super Kick @11:35 – ** ½
- Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Jay White w/Gedo, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL w/Dick Togo vs Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI: Ishii wins via Vertical Drop Brainbuster @13:47 – ** ¾
- BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Shingo Takagi vs Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, SHO, Master Wato & Rocky Romero: BUSHI wins via MX @17:23 – *** ¼
Yuji Nagata vs Gabriel Kidd
So we’re back to the tried and true formula of Young Lion cutting his teeth against the old guard. Gabe mostly stood up with Yuji, caught him with a few Dropkicks and had moments of advantage when he locked on a Half Crab; but generally we knew the outcome before it happened.
It was decent enough, but this wasn’t one of the impressive Young Lion matches, just a mostly basic one.
Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI vs Tiger Mask IV & Yuya Uemura
Tiger Mask made his NJPW return from diverticulitis at the Ranbo, but this is his first normal match since his surgery. The feel good aspect is overshadowed by Uemura’s death wish, going after Suzuki and wanting to prove himself.
Suzuki dismissed the Young Lion early by giving him DOUKI, but the Young Lion took a few potshots, and Suzuki doesn’t appreciate that. So this really turned into Suzuki beating the hell out of Uemura, but Uemura fighting back. English commentary recounted the story of a young Minoru Suzuki being disciplined for disrespecting Antonio Inoki. So there’s an interesting thread there.
Tiger Mask had a short time in the ring and showed that he wasn’t all the way back when he flubbed the Tiger Driver. Uemura came back in, kept on Suzuki and they slugged it out. Suzuki eventually had to hit the GSP to win the match, which proves something since the last time they met Suzuki said Uemura didn’t deserve the Gotch. So Uemura might be moving up on Suzuki’s respect list and it was a fiery and fun match.
The United Empire (Will Ospreay w/Bea Priestley, Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Yota Tsuji
So before this match begins we all know The Empire get a win back since the veterans have a Young Lion.
Early on we get a Mongolian Chop dual between Tenzan and O-Khan. Then this turns into a Tenzan beatdown. Cobb, Ospreay and Khan take turns beating the hell out of Tenzan. Tenzan manages some space to get Kojima in the ring, and he starts off a little quick against Ospreay, but it starts to turn against the veteran squad.
So when Yota comes in, you know the match it really over. Yota does some decent work, actually beats Cobb in a few power spots, but it’s all done, except for the crying. TenCozy Cutter gets countered, Yota gets hoisted up for an Oscutter and then the real damage happens.
Khan hits the TTD (Tenzan Tombstone Driver) on Tenzan and they just beat him motionless. Kojima tries to shield his veteran partner, but the beatings continue. Ospreay then announces they are the United Empire while Tenzan is stretchered out, so he’s written out for a while.
Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, ZSJ & El Deperado vs Guerrillas of Destiny, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo
Well it looks like we have direction for the two tag team divisions. Taichi is still incensed at the usage and now location of the stolen Iron Fingers. Taichi continued usage of the throat chokes but that was out of frustration more so then a weird heel tactic trade off.
Tama took a few early bumps, but then Despy became the punching bag. This worked to set things up for the Dangerous Tekkers obviously wanting a rematch, and the ELP and Taiji feeling a little screwed out of their rightful match. Since ELP and Taiji lost the belts to Roppongi 3k at Wrestle Kingdom 14, they were never really allowed to get a rematch because of quarantine.
Also with the finish being what appears to be a Super Kick from a loaded boot, now we’ve got a big conversation revolving around ELP’s boots and his tactics.
Solid enough match to make sense of the set pieces, but nothing necessary to watch.
Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Jay White w/Gedo, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL w/Dick Togo vs Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
So Chase and Fale kept trying to take the KOPW trophy, that was early antics, but quickly we got to see a lot of Jay’s perspective. Chaos pulls off tandem moves, and its fine, Bullet Club tries gang tactics and Red Shoes refuses to count the pinfall.
When Jay finally got in the match, there was a light applause from the crowd, almost like they wanted to show him appreciation in case it was his last match for whatever reason. Jay never clicked into the match though. He still seemed to be in broken Jamie mode, and the Switchblade was nowhere to be seen. At the point that Chaos hit him with the locomotion tandem spots, it felt to be rubbing things in a bit.
Coming off the promo yesterday and his attitude today, it was very easy to feel for the heel. Jay really has mastered his art, and the fact that he ate the pin to Ishii, the last person to beat him before the Ibushi match, it’s almost poetic. I doubt Jay is gone, this is just well worded and acted work, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was interested/concerned for the Switchblade.
BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Shingo Takagi vs Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, SHO, Master Wato & Rocky Romero
These multi-man tags are always weird to surmise, since the moves don’t completely matter. The importance of most of these matches, this one especially, is figuring out future plans. Shingo made it his job to go after Tanahashi, and as much as Tanahashi’s matches have this weird vibe of similarity lately, Shingo is such a different animal, I’m excited for that pairing. This could also be big for Shingo if he wins the title.
Rocky made a small bid against Hiromu that he shouldn’t be taken lightly, but this was not his story. Hiromu wants to avenge his BOSJ loss against SHO, so he issued the challenge and tried to beat it home today that he wants a match. SANADA and Ibushi had a few sparks of interaction to whet the appetite but nothing crazy. Naito didn’t really have anything going on, so his involvement was equal to his stories at the moment, just there.
BUSHI got a decent enough mini angle with being the new road block/gatekeeper against Master Wato. Wato really needs to work out the big match jitters, because the Baseball Stadium and Tokyo Dome weren’t good showings from him. He’s athletic with some solid potential, but he needs to just show it off during matches that matter.
BUSHI winning was just a formality since the stories were solidified during the match. Fun Dash main event, but not necessary viewing for wrestling reasons.
Overall Score: 7/10
So for what this show always is, it did a decent enough job at setting things in motion, and the fact that Shingo is hunting for Tanahashi, that’s well worth some buzz. Also writing off Tenzan for the foreseeable future was unexpected and different.
Jamie remaining shattered also added to the weird atmosphere of the show. English commentary really overdid the Jay White angle, which I feel hurt things a little, trying to equate him to Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, etc…people who retire while in their peak.The crowd wanted to thank him, you could tell from the pensive applause and murmuring, but this could be the Devil’s greatest trick.
Also Suzuki-Gun generally being babyface over the Bullet Club is interesting. Taichi is upset that the Tongans took the metal glove from Takashi Iizuka, ZSJ tries to help his buddy and Despy is the bump guy. I’ve always been a fan of the Holy Emperor, if not a little facetiously, but he’s finally been doing great work and now people seem to care a bit about his situation.
So 2021 has potential, let’s look at some of the things set in motion:
- G.o.D. vs Dangerous Tekkers 2
- Taiji Ishimori & ELP vs Despy & Kanemaru
- BUSHI vs Master Wato
- SHO vs Hiromu Takahashi
- Chase & Bad Luck Fale vs Toru Yano
- Tanahashi vs Shingo
- SANADA vs Ibushi
- The United Empire vs Everyone
- Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii? (or retirement)
- Tetsuya Naito vs The Typical Naito Vibe
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