Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, & Takashi Iizuka) vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jyushin 'Thunder' Liger, Satoshi Kojima - 4/10
First the bad, this is building the Iizuka retirement and the story with Tenzan trying to talk sense into him to team again, and so Iizuka played a big part of the match and we had a Tenzan vs Iizuka sequence. The good however, is that we also had Suzuki torture Liger and Kojima in two separate long parts of the match, so I have no complains there. Finish saw Suzuki go for a chairshot on Tenzan, but Iizuka stopped him, but only because he was the one that wanted to take out Tenzan, so he did and Suzuki-Gun got DQd. After the match they kept attacking Tenzan.
EVIL & SANADA vs Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino - 5.5/10
Good action. Half of the match was EVIL and SANADA working over Umino with a lot of tags, Don Callis even brought up that SANADA's mind wasn't even in the match and was making EVIL do all the work. Yoshida came in and him and Umino did a lot of illegal double teams, Yoshida kept getting in there without being tagged. SANADA had a good match up with Umino towards the end of the match. LIJ won with the Magic Killer on Umino.
Los Ingobernables de Japon vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & El Desperado) - 6.5/10
This was a good match, especially during the juniors action, but I just completely zoned out for most of it. I saw the action and it looked good, but I just didn't get excited about it. I'm done with Taichi vs Naito at this point, I want to see both men to something different now. LIJ killed Kanemaru at the end and Naito pinned him after Destino.
Post-match - While walking up the ramp, SHO and YOH confronted Shingo and BUSHI, and in a totally heel move, they stole the titles and walked down to the ring. YOH cut a promo saying they want to be the next in line for a shot at the titles, and Shingo accepted. Shingo oozed charisma.
Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) w/Pieter vs Tomoaki Honma & YOSHI-HASHI - 4/10
It was a match, Honma is a great babyface in peril, but he can never get into second gear, so it's mostly just going through the story of working over Honma, YH for the save, Kokeshi Makes You Happy, finish. Owens pinned Honma with a Package Piledriver, which I guess is a big heel move. Prior to the match, Owens promised a BC clean sweep tonight. 1-0 so far.
Kota Ibushi Promo - Awesome promo. Ibushi came back after his concussion to a huge ovation and surprise. He said that he is staying with NJPW and that next month, he is entering the New Japan Cup. People were crying after announcing that he was staying. Tanahashi maybe, but I don't think that anyone is as over in their country as Ibushi is in Japan right now.
Guerrillas of Destiny w/Jado vs Toru Yano & Togi Makabe - 6/10
Kevin Kelly mentioned that this was like an unofficial No. 1 contendership match for SANADA and EVIL's titles, but he usually makes up his own storylines, so while it may be true, I'll take his lightly.
Match was ok, GoD attacked both men during their entrance, then worked over Yano, Makabe ran wild, then Tama Tonga and Yano did stuff with paddings. At one point Jado got involved hitting Makabe with the kendo stick to give Tama Tonga an opening for a Gun Stun. There was a ref bump that Yano used to low blow Roa, but Yano was hit with a Gun Stun too and lost.
Post-match - Tama Tonga went crazy attacking everyone with the kendo stick, at first it was as usual with the Young Lions, but then he attacked the announcers and the photographers, and even pushed a camera guy off the ramp. It looked bad cuz these people didn't sell and it looked unsafe.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Match
"Bone Soldier" Taiji Ishimori (C) vs Ryusuke Taguchi - 8.5/10
Really liked this match. It started slow with Taguchi trying to piss off Ishimori with comedy, but Ishimori turned the comedy around on Taguchi instead. Soon after, Taguchi put his serious boots on and the match was great. Taguchi worked over Taiji's leg, always chasing the ankle lock submission, he kept finding ways to hurt Taiji, who throughtout the match, went for big impact moves, chasing the DVD and the Bloody Cross, which he hit to retain the title. Really good back and forward action, lots of near falls towards the end.
Post-match - Taiji challenged Liger who was at commentary. Liger told Taiji that he would regret calling him out and that he accepts, any time, any place. I'm guessing they keep this one until Madison Square Garden.
Bad Luck Fale w/Chase Owens and Yujior Takahashi vs Kazuchika Okada - 8/10
I liked this a lot too, Fale worked the big beast role perfectly, but mostly because Okada wrestled a great match around Fale. Story of the match was that Okada, being the small guy, was trying to catch Fale off guard and chip him down slowly, but Fale's offense was devastating, really hurting Okada's lower back. Furthermore, Okada had to fend off Owens and Yujiro who kept interfering.
There some spots in the match that I liked, mainly the super scary backdrop, the strike off were Fale's forearms looked like being hit by a gorilla, and pretty much all of the finish sequence that came after ref bump. That ref bump had to be one of the weakest ones i've ever seen. Okada won with the Rainmaker after a superplex and the weaker Discus Rainmaker.
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (C) vs "Switchblade" Jay White - 9/10
In February 12, 2012, a young cocky Kazuchika Okada, backed up by Gedo, shocked the world when he, out of nowhere in the match, defeated Tanahashi to win his first IWGP world title. Seven years later, a new young cocky Gedo project did virtually the same, except for the shocking the world thing, as everyone kinda saw this one coming.
The match was actually really similar to the 2012 match in the sense that the whole match made White looked like a credible competitor, but suffering at Tanahashi's offense, to the point that he looked to be heading for a loss, but then, out of nowhere, arguably without working over Tanahashi enough, White hit his Blade Runner and won clean in the middle of the ring, no kick outs or anything. Both men worked over each other's legs, really great selling all match.
Back in 2012 when Okada had his win, it was a shock because Tanahashi had been champ for over 400 days and Okada was a lot fresher than White who already held gold since his return. I think this was shocking in the sense that Tahanashi's big comeback pretty much ended at Wrestle Kingdom, but realistically, he already succeeded in winning the G1, defeating Okada, main eventing WK, and showing that his style of wrestling is superior to Omega's and that he still has it, so there is no need to have this long ass reign, there is nothing else to prove for him. White on the other hand, surely has wins over Omega, Okada, and Tanahashi, and is the ace of the Bullet Club, but in the eyes of many fans, he still has a lot to show, so now the spotlight is on him and he either swims or sinks. At this point I'm really really interested in a Naito vs White feud, I want to see Naito chase a champion White, but I don't think it's the right time either. Unpopular opinion, but I think Naito should stay feuding with Suzuki-Gun, this time against Zack Sabre Jr. As of this show, seems like LIJ's direction could either go against CHAOS or Bullet Club given the tag divisions.
According to Meltzer, Tanahashi was never supposed to win at Wrestle Kingdom, but Omega's departure changed plans, with Jay White taking over Omega's plans going forward, but I think this story as it happened just works best as White gets his hands wet with the title like Okada, Naito, and Omega all did during their first runs. I completely expect White to lose the title to Okada at Madison Square Garden at this point.
Post-match - Jay White cut a promo saying that no one believed he could do it, but now they'll listen when he says he's gonna beat our heroes. He said that everyone hated the idea of him as the champion, and welcomed us all to the Cutthroat Era of the Switchblade.
This was a fun easy show, it went by fast. The three top matches were great, but I wouldn't blame anyone that skips over the first half of the show. I think the title change will go down in history as White's first reign, but it will be like Naito's forgettable first win, and not like Okada or Omega's historical first wins.