Seven Match Trial, Sixth Match
Katsuya Kitamura vs Yuji Nagata - 7/10
Fuck yeah! Nagata. He just won a championship with Akiyama in AJPW, so I wasn't sure if he was coming soon anytime soon. Today's lesson for Kitamura is technical wrestling, string style fighting, and limb selling, as Nagata worked on Kitamura's arm and had slap battles with Nagata. In addition, Kitamura was able to apply his learning from before as he tried to submit Nagata with Nakanishi's Torture Rack, which is not that bad of an idea considering that Nagata and Nakanishi have had battles before and surely at one point Nagata submitted to it. Nagata won with a back suplex pin. Great match!
Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Roppongi 3K w/ Rocky Romero - 7.5/10
This is a non-title match, but at the end of the day, SZKG hasn't earned the match, but I'm guessing this is how we build into it. The match continued the storyline of SHO's injured back as SZKG started working on it from the first minute on, cutting the ring in half on him. YOH's hot tag on Desperado was great, but when SHO tried to make it back to the match, he couldn't even get Kanemaru up for a german, and at this point RPG3K's whole game is fucked because SHO can't execute anymore moves and YOH is too worried on SHO...kinda...kinda like that last Young Bucks match.
Finish saw Kanemaru work on SHO's back more, a chairshot to his back behind the ref's eyes, and one submission later, SHO tapped out. Great match with probably the least amount of cheating you'll see from these two.
Post-match - SZKG hit more chairshots on SHO, Rocky Romero tries to shield him but gets his ass kicked obvioysly. Desperado poses with the championships, intentions perfectly clear.
Togi Makabe, KUSHIDA, Michael Elgin, & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taka Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka, & Taichi) - 4/10
That thug Makabe jumped Suzuki during his entrance and they went on brawling while the rest of the teams fought off inside the ring, so since we were left off with the likes of Taichi, Taguchi, Iizuka, and Elgin, the match was a lot of cheating, comedy, bad, and boring wrestling, respectively. KUSHIDA and Taka were really absent during that whole run.
Suzuki and Makabe eventually made it back to the ring and had a slow decent fight, mostly I hit you, you hit me. Suzuki won this battle, but tagged in Taka. Both parties got into it, but at the end, Taka and Makabe were left alone, easy picks for Makabe to hit the King Kong Knee and win. God bless Suzuki, he was the only redeeming thing about this match.
Post-match - Makabe made the appropriate challenges for the IC title, Suzuki full of balls got in the ring with all four babyfaces and accepted the challenge in Makabe's face. Makabe hit him and just like Naito ignoring YOSHI, Suzuki wasn't faced and it was Makabe that had to be restrained by his peers.
Juice Robinson, David Finlay, & Toa Henare vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & Jay White) - 5/10
This match has the ability to go from great to annoying to great again depending on who was in the ring. White or Ishii with anyone was great, Juice with anyone sucked, except for Yano since it was all comedy and you just accept it as it is. Henare sucked too, I just don't like him. The match kinda continued the Finlay vs White thing, but by the end, I think White is making sure that Robinson will be there too for post-Finlay-beatdown. Finish saw the same ref stopping as White kills Henare with elbows.
Rey Mysterio Announcement - HOLY SHIT, REY MYSTERIO IS COMING TO NJPW! VS LIGER!! Challenge made for the US show, I really do hope he goes to Japan too. Crowd went crazy for Rey challenging Liger.
BUSHI vs Gedo - 5/10
We're not officially starting off the CHAOS vs LIJ challenges. BUSHI came out with a Venom mask with a Gedo skull at the top of the tonge and he was carrying HUGE scissors. I tried to find the last time Gedo had a single's match in a major show and after going several years, I couldn't find any.
Match started in the ramp and moved back to the ring where heel Gedo is trying to unmask BUSHI instead of fighting clean. BUSHI had no other than to try and tease cutting Gedo's beard. Gedo's whole game was fucking with the mask, at one point tying it to the ring ropes, at which point the ref straight up ordered the young boy to cut it while he held Gedo, BUSHI made a comeback after this. BUSHI won with the MX in a really underwhelming match. I didn't like that Gedo was all about the mask, it made for a lot of stalling. Given the match, the one thing I would have changed was BUSHI getting cut, it took too long and it made Gedo look stupid for doing something that the ref ended up just stopping the match for; instead, I would have made the mask switch with one of the masks that Gedo already had out there.
YOSHI-HASHI vs Tetsuya Naito - 7/10
Another super heel YOSHI-HASHI ran down duringNaito's entrance and attacked him from behind, then posed with the tranquilo pose in the ring. YOU STILL SUCK YOSHI-HASHI! And you know what happened as soon as Naito took his shirt off and got a second to breath? Yeah, he kicked YOSHI's ass.
The match was great, but it really didn't do anything for YOSHI. They went back and forward, but even then, it always felt like this was Naito's day off while YOSHI was fighting for his life. Biggest spot of the match I would say was the submission that YOSHI had on Naito that Naito teased fading out, but then just extended his foot and got the rope. YOSHI probably would have fallen to one single Destino, but Good Guy Naito gave him two so that he wouldn't look like the geek he is.
Post-match - While walking up the ramp, Naito reaches the door and suddenly out of nowhere (well, the ramp), Taichi comes out, takes him out with the mic stand and drags him down the stairs to the back. Interesting.
Takahashi vs Ospreay Build Up Video - It had cats, that's all you need to know. They're lucky I like cats.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match
"Timebomb" Hiromu Takahashi vs "Aerial Assassin" Will Ospreay (C) - 9/10
Man, Ospreay really needs to talk with a professional about his entrance attires, he's wearing a tight hoodie with spikes, sounds cool, but it looked terrible.
Match was fast paced, back and forward, from the first second until the last. There was a spot designed to concuss Hiromu, but they botched it and potentially saved Hiromu's wrestling career, biggest near fall came after that as Ospreay hit the Essex Destroyed and Imploding 450 for a 2-count. At this point the match did slow down a bit, but mostly because Ospreay kept hitting Hiromu with everything he had and he just couldn't put him down until he finally manages to hit the Os Cutter (3rd intent) for the pin. Great match, these guys dropped each other on their heads all match.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Hirooki Goto (C) vs "King of Darkness" EVIL - 8/10
This was the usual Goto match, a hard hitting fight, slow and methodic that feels really intense, but it actually doesn't pick up until later in the match. This particular aforementioned spot I'd say was when EVIL tried to take out Goto using his meditation mala (is that what it's called?) and Goto made a great looking comeback. From there on they started trading finishers, Goto bleeding from the mouth. Finishing sequence was slow, but it was nice, with both men just countering to hit their finisher for the kill. Goto gets the GTR first. Not my favorite match of the night, but overall a great fight.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match
Kazuchika Okada (C) vs SANADA - 9.75/10
Call me crazy, but the build up to this match, SANADA finally talking, showing SANADA with a suit and tie, all that really makes me feel that SANADA actually had a chance tonight. If only for this match in the middle of the big winter season, the build of SANADA was great. No Gedo either, maybe an indication that he won't be the one cutting promos post-match?
Right from the get go, fans are 50/50 on both men. Match saw SANADA work on Okada's neck from early on, he dropped him with a piledriver in the ramp, he dropped him with a piledriver in the ring, among other stuff. Once Okada makes a comeback, he also starts targeting SANADA's head/neck including some douchy kicks to the head that made people turn on Okada and woke up SANADA, just to be put down again. Trigger Rainmaker pose. Worth noting that later on, SANADA did the same douchy kicks and wasn't booed.
As Okada starts going for the Rainmaker, SANADA makes a huge comeback, and we got a perfect exhibition of a wrestler having scouted his/her opponent, SANADA had counters for everything Okada was throwing at him, at least the signature moves, and in several of those counters, SANADA was able to lock in his Skull End submission, one of them a great near fall. The match went on and in some great near falls, SANADA hit the Rainmaker on Okada. Another with a Rainmaker reverse into a Skull End by SANADA, Okada passes out and SANADA goes for the finishing moonsault, but we get another kick out. Okada stands up grabbing SANADA's hand and hits the Rainmaker, a few piledrivers and a Rainmaker more and Okada continues his now 600+ World Championship Reign. Amazing match. Build + match should confirm to everyone that SANADA could easily be in the top, but Okada is a fucking legend and to be honest, no one can touch him.
There was an awesome call by the Japanese commentary when SANADA preps Okada in the Dragon position, but he hesitates. Commentary really just said 'Dragon?...OH! TIGER!". It really sounds like nothing, but the way they sold the severity of going from Dragon to Tiger made that spot feel important.
Post-match - Usual three point promo by Okada. He put SANADA over, but the main thing was that he said he wants to fight Will Ospreay, which is important not just for the Jr division, but it will be CHAOS vs CHAOS. If my Japanese was correct, this would be at the finals of the New Japan Cup.
Okada Press-Conference - I think Ishii doesn't drink, he got handed a beer, toasted with it without even opening it. Ospreay accepted Okada's challenge.
This show was a roller-coaster, it had a really bad IMO slump around the middle, but different from other shows, the two good matches around it were pretty fucking good. The only detriment that I see is that this whole show was really predictable, perfect Pick Em's if we had played. Storyline wise we'll see where that Naito/Taichi thing goes, but overall it feels like most stories were closed tonight.