New Japan Rumble
Katsuya Kitamura vs BUSHI vs Delirious vs Leo Tonga vs Manabu Nakanishi vs Chase Owens vs Yuji Nagata vs Taka Michinoku vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs El Desperado vs Jyushin 'Thunder' Liger vs Tiger Mask IV vs Gambino vs Henare vs YOSHI-HASHI vs David Finlay vs Yujiro Takahashi vs Cheeseburger vs Satoshi Kojima vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Masahito Kakihara - 5/10
BUSHI and Kitamura started with some strength vs speed spots. Delirious came in and realized he's too weak for Kitamura. Nothing was relevant until Chase Owens came in and eliminated Delirious. When Taka came in, everyone got eliminated except Chase Owens, so we got a small Bullet Club vs Suzuki-Gun thing going on as Owens had to fight 3-on-1 and would end eliminated, but at this point, Jyushin 'Thunder' Liger came in. He fought valiantly but the numbers were too much, but then Tiger Mask came in and the Suzuki-Gun vs masks feud continues.
When Gambino came in, Tiger and Desperado unmasked mutually, and there was a weird thing where no one knew what was going on, so again, everyone was eliminated and Gambino was left alone for Henare to come in. Henare was wearing a Samoan attire, so I'm guessing he may be skipping his excursion like Finlay, who in a REALLY surprising move, eliminated YOSHI-HASHI, just to be eliminated by Yujiro minutes later.
Yujiro was alone celebrating when stupid Cheeseburger came in. I can think of several non-political correct reasons why the NJPW crowd loves Cheeseburger, but I wish they would stop using him. Second to last was Kojima who fought off Yujiro, and as he was getting his ass kicked until Tenzan came in. Masahito Kakihara came in last, trying to revive UWFi.
Last two were Kakihara and fucking Cheeseburger. Would you fucking believe that? Kakihara pinned Cheeseburger to win the rumble. Overall the rumble was enjoyable until the fucking Cheeseburger came in, not a lot of old timers this time, so it didn't suffer that bad.
Post-match - Kakihara cut a promo saying he had beaten Cancer and was raising money for Takayama.
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match
Roppongi 3K (C) w/Rocky Romero vs The Young Bucks - 7/10
It's crazy to see the Bucks come in as the veterans and legends against newcomers who NEED to prove themselves, the Bucks have really become a household name and one of the biggest franchises in wrestling.
Very early on, the Bucks were all cocky and it cost them when RPG3K got the upper hand on them, but after a hard fall from a top con hilo from YOH, the Bucks got control of the match, working on YOH's injured back. Also early while working on YOH, Matt Jackson was sent to the outside and also hurts his back, so each team has a hurt back in their teams. SHO came in with the hot tag and looked great against both Bucks.
Towards the end of the match, there was an awesome near fall with YOH almost submitting to the Sharpshooter. There were some good spots towards the end, including one with the SOH and Nick fighting off by kicking the other's partners. Finish came with an Meltzer Driver and Sharpshooter on YOH for the submission win and the record breaking 7th reign for the Young Bucks. Good start to the show, great selling by YOH.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championship Gauntlet Match
Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi, & Takashi Iizuka) vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & Beretta) vs Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson, & Togi Makabe) vs Michael Elgin & War Machine vs Bullet Club (Guerrillas of War & Bad Luck Fale) (C) - 6.5/10
Desperado, Taka, and Kanemaru were out with Suzuki-Gun, so technically a whole other trio. First teams out are Suzuki-Gun and the Unbreakable War Machines, or as I like to call them, the "Likely not returning" team. And as the long lasting Japanese tradition of Suzuki-Gun, not only did they jump the babyfaces, but they also attacked them outside. While getting heat on Hanson, I perfectly saw a visual submission by Hanson and the ref ignored it. Rowe did his stupid samon heat spot with Sabre, except Sabre was hitting European Uppercuts, so it just looked like a no-sell. Taichi distracted the ref while Iizuka hit everyone with the claw and Sabre locked in an armbar on Rowe for the submission. Thank God Team 'not coming back' lost first, but too bad since Elgin surely knows what gets over in Japan. Even among all the Suzuki-Gun cheating, the shit in this pairing was all the War Machine offense.
Second team in was CHAOS, they were jumped on the ramp while Taichi worked on Yano in the ring. At this point, Taichi unfortunately took his pants off, so less than a minute later, as expected, Yano rolled him up.
Third team is Taguchi Japan, we got a quick run of all possible pairings between both teams, some Juice spots, some Taguchi spots, and then Yano rolled Taguchi for the elimination.
Finally, CHAOS vs Bullet Club. BC look legit tonight, game face on. As soon as they came in, Roa took out Beretta with a Magic Crusher on the apron. Ishii came in and fought off all three guys awesomely, he was on fire, and started teasing the brainbuster on Fale. After fighting for a bit, Ishii hits the brainbuster, but it's not enough to take out Fale who takes him and Beretta out. GoD worked on Beretta for a while, and when everything seemed lost, Beretta hit the Dudebuster on Tama Tonga to win the titles for his trio.
I don't like the decision to to the titles on a random team, especially because I felt that Fale and GoD could really use something to keep them busy and relevant in their own thing and most importantly, keep GoD away from the tag titles. I've seen 3 of these gauntlets, and this was the most decent one, the crap teams were eliminated quickly and left the decent two have a slightly short match. Unfortunate that we got a short participation of Sabre, not often, but sometimes I wish he was a Jr heavyweight to get more matches.
Cody w/Brandi Rhodes vs Kota Ibushi - 8.5/10
Cody is dressed as some sort of Bullet Club Robin Hood. Straight up, the first move in the match was Ibushi establishing that he was faster, stronger, and more agile than Cody, and so Cody is gonna have to cheat his way to the W, and with the help of Brandi, he does that with a perfectly executed spot and gets the upper hand early.
Cody worked on Ibushi for a while, who made a comeback soon after, and while everything seemed to start to get balanced out, Cody hit a sick looking Crossrhodes from the apron to the floor, and so Cody continued working Ibushi's neck. Ibushi can't even stay on his feet, but he still keeps kicking out, and in a desperation move, darts Cody into the corner to balance things out again. After battling a bit, a Rainmaker from Cody (not sure if it will be relevant), Ibushi finally hits Kamigoye and the Phoenix Splash for the win. Great match, loved Cody in this match.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Killer Elite Squad (C) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) - 9/10
EVIL came out with a slightly improved attire and SANADA came out, once again, not giving a shit about anything. KES started the match by dropping EVIL with the tandem powerbomb, so from the get go, EVIL was knocked out. Meanwhile, inside the ring, KES had an incredibly dominant heat run over SANADA while EVIL was dead outside.
After a superb babyface in peril run by SANADA, EVIL came in with an equally big hot tag. KES hit LIJ with everything they had, but no matter what, they kept kicking out. After a while, LIJ finally get a chance to hit the Magic Killer on Davey Boy and a quick Moonsault from SANADA to seal the deal. I really liked the first ten minutes or so, making the rest of the match, a feel good story to see LIJ come back.
At one point, Archer went for a Spanish Fly on EVIL, but I think he had second thoughts mid air and just dropped on his back instead of risking the flip, it looked like a weird superplex, but better that than a dead Archer.
Never Openweight Championship, Hair vs Hair Match
Hirooki Goto vs Minoru Suzuki (C) - 9/10
Very early in the match, Suzuki locked in the sleeper on Goto in the corner, to the point where he straight up lifted Goto by the neck and he lost consciousness. Doctors tried to check on him and ref tried to keep Suzuki away, but Suzuki just grabbed him, tossed him outside and ended up waking him instead. I'm pretty sure he could had just pinned him right there for the win, but Suzuki likes to punish. I'd also argue that there was no ref stoppage because Suzuki kept interrupting the ref and doctor.
Once woken up, Goto started getting a bit more offense, but would always get cut off by Suzuki again, and this went one for a while, Goto slowly getting more and more offense until the match was mostly back and forward. Thanks to the early choke out, the sleeper was someone more of a serious threat later in the match. The end of the match was Suzuki trying to choke out Goto with a guillotine in the top rope, but Goto slowly reversing it into a top rope GTR, but Suzuki kicked out.
After slugging each other out a bit, Goto hit two GTRs to finally pin, capture the title, and Suzuki's hair. This match exceeded my expectations, it wasn't the usual NEVER slug fests of Ishii, nor the boring generic matches of Goto, so I was happy with it
There was a cool part when all the Suzuki-Gun-Jrs tried to interfere, and finally a small pay off to all the mistreatment, we saw the Young Lions stop them.
Post-match - Suzuki-Gun-Jr tried to sneak Suzuki away so he wouldn't get shaved, but Suzuki himself returned to the ring and accepted his faith and shaved himself. Honorable motherfucker he is. Crowd went crazy for Minoru.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship 4-Way Match
"The Villain" Marty Scurll (C) vs Hiromu Takahashi vs KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay - 9/10
Takahashi made a Rey Mysterio entrance and Daryll is wearing a mask, I'm calling it, Takahashi vs Mysterio is happening soon. Scurll came in with wings, I will NOT be calling for Scurll vs Koko B. Ware, it's too early for that.
Early in the match, Scurll left the ring and Takahashi was taken out, so most of the first part of the match was focused on KUSHIDA vs Ospreay, with Scurll just coming in for quick pin breaks. Soon after tho, everyone made it in and in real fashion of a fatal four way, they all mixed it up inside the ring. They did a million spots, slowly escalating the level of the moves until they started hitting each other with their finishers. When nothing was working, Scurll tied up Takahashi to the guardrail and broke his fingers, but when he tried the same with the rest, got his ass kicked and his fingers were broken instead.
Scurll started cheating and KUSHIDA and Ospreay were really close to winning with several near falls, at this point Takahashi came in, full of fire and started killing everyone, but in a small LDRS2000 reunion, Ospreay and Scurll started working together to kill off the Japanese. Scurll kept cheating and Takahashi kept coming close, but at the end, it was Ospreay pinning Scurll to capture the title.
Match was great, but I wasn't a fan of all the cheating by Scurll, I was ok with the powder since we still had a while to go, but the umbrella stuff later on was unnecessary. I'm also not super stoked about Ospreay winning again, This should had been Hiromu's night.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (C) vs "Switchblade" Jay White - 8/10
Tanahashi is totally wearing hair extensions. Match started with Tanahashi dominating, but as soon as he tried jumping outside the ring like he normally would, his injured knee from these pasts weeks buckled under him and started hurting again. At this point, White put his focus on the knee and maintained control, working the Tanahashi's knee.
Tanahashi made a slow comeback, one that kept getting cut off by White, but when Tanahashi started working White's leg, it finally started to matter and make a difference, and thus started Tanahashi's work to slowly cut down White. Match went back and forward from that point on, with White coming close to winning, but never really close enough, meanwhile Tanahashi was starting to his his greatest hits, eventually hitting one final High Fly Flow for the win, making sure White doesn't get elevated.
IWGP United States Championship No DQ Match
Chris Jericho vs Kenny Omega (C) - 8.5/10
Ugh, Jericho is dressed with his crappy WWE look. Can someone already tell him that he looks better in tights? Omega came out dressed as Tron Anubis, it's a cool helmet, but why? Makes him look stupid and less serious in a No DQ blood feud match. Jericho is also most definitely not in Wrestlemania form.
Match started and looked like it was gonna be a brawl inside the ring, but once they went outside and fought outside, it really started to get derailed with Jericho pushing red shows, locking in the Liontamer on a young lion, doing table spots, everything looking really improvised.
This was a match that had elements from both NJPW and WWE, and every time that they tried to do those WWE things like their brawls with chairs and tables and monitors and what not, the match sucked, but once inside the ring, where the wrestling was pure and straight to the point, the match was improve by miles. This match did NOT need to be No DQs, it was probably just Jericho's cheap idea to add unnecessary WWE gimmicks to a NJPW match.
There really was no story to the match, it was all Jericho using weapons and hurting Kenny, and Kenny not giving up even when bleeding. Jericho getting cocky and confident until Kenny dropped him onto a table outside (which Jericho made look like shit). Finish came after Kenny hit a bunch of V-Triggers, two One Winged Angel (second onto a chair), and pin. I will say the match got better as it went on since they stopped using gimmicks, there was a really great counter from the OWA into the Walls of Jericho and a latter near fall that made the crowd go crazy.
People will be marking out for this match like fanboys, but this was wasted potential that could had been better than it was, still, this was Jericho's best match since he fought Punk or even HBK.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match
Kazuchika Okada (C) w/Gedo vs Tetsuya Naito - 9.5/10
The crowd is going ape shit for Naito. Okada is wrestling with pants tonight!? DA FUCK IS THIS!?
Both men worked each other's necks and heads pretty much from the start and to the half of the match, at which point the Cobra Clutch started to make it's way into the match with Okada locking it and countering mostly everything Naito had into the clutch over and over, and lastly, they started racing to hit their finishers, and like a playing a fighting video game with cheat codes, spam Rainmakers and Destinos as much as possible to finally get the pin. Finish saw Okada reverse a Destino into a spinning tombstone piledriver, follow with a Rainmaker for the pin.
I'm really surprised that Okada retained, my whole plan just got a wrench thrown into it, but this makes for an interesting start of the year. Don't be surprised to see Okada take on challenges from CHAOS soon since he has already run over the rest of the stables in NJPW. I really hope it doesn't bite back on NJPW's ass not capitalizing on tonight's crowd being 98% behind Naito, it really felt it was his night, and while all the lower titles changed, since Jericho and Tanahashi retained, it did feel this was up in the air.
An amazing show, but I just don't feel it was better or at the level of WK11 and Dominion 2017. Tanahashi vs White and Jericho vs Omega felt really underwhelming, and Naito vs Okada, while amazing, wasn't this ground breaking thing like last year. I think at the end of the year, we'll end up blaming it all on Okada's pants.