Jon Moxley vs Shota Umino - 6.5/10
As good as it was going to be for four minutes or so. Moxley sold a lot for Shota that started hot with a dive and got as much offense as he could before Moxley came back and beat him enough and won with the Deathrider.
Post-match - Moxley announced that he wants in on the G1 Climax. Crowd popped. Something that came up during his match with Juice is that Moxley is not accustomed to the level of competition in NJPW, and back then, it showed with him sweating and breathing heavily early on while Juice looked ok. Here, Moxley was somewhat more composed, but also broke out a sweat against a Young Lion in a 4 minute match. If he is to enter the G1, this is going to be a HELL of a test of endurance for him, and it could really really expose him once he gets in there with guys like Sabre, SANADA, or Ibushi, who are not your quintessential brawlers.
Shingo Takagi vs Satoshi Kojima - 6.5/10
This was a good match, a lot of striking and lariats, a lot more drama than I thought was warranted for such a short match. Shingo sold a lot for Kojima, more than he did for a lot of his big matches in the BOSJ, which I guess you need to keep Kojima alive if he is entering the G1, but at the same time, I thought that this wasn't that decisive win for Shingo to make an impression in the heavyweight division from the get go. Kojima did kick out from a "Made in Japan" before falling to the Last Dragon.
Post-match - Shingo also announces that he wants to show what he's got at the G1 Climax.
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr) vs YOSHI-HASHI & Jyushin 'Thunder' Liger - 7/10
This was mostly to set up Sabre vs YOSHI for the British Undisputed title at one of the Kizuna Road shows, but the real good stuff was the stuff between Suzuki and Liger, which I don't know when we'll get the match, but I can't wait for it. YOSHI unfortunately had to win to set up his match, so he pinned Sabre with a pin that looked out of Sabre's playbook, which I guess it's to build that Sabre wasn't able to escape a wacky pin like he usually does, and maybe YOSHI has his number.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Juice Robinson vs Bullet Club (Jay White, Taiji Ishimori, & Chase Owens) - 5/10
Ishimori didn't do much, clearly hurting. Tanahashi was slow and botchy, clearly hurting. Juice Robinson was serious and great, clearly kayfabe hurting, both phisycally and emotionally.
The stuff that we saw White and Robinson do was great, Chase and Taguchi were good too. Tanahashi sold a lot and had great drama, but the dude couldn't pull off a single Slingblade at all, even ending with a standstill Slingblade that looked more like a botched Final Cut, holding Owens backwards. This makes me hope that Tanahashi misses the G1, especially given the closing angle.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Taichi (C) w/Miho Abe vs Tomohiro Ishii - 7.5/10
This was arguably the third best match of the show depending who you ask, to me it was, fight me. Having said that, it wasn't a good as their previous one and I have one reason I thought that. To start off, the other was a main event and got main event time, that helped stretch out Taichi's resolution to fight, but also, the previous match's story was that it was Taichi that decided he was going to kick Ishii's ass bare handed and no shenanigans and it was him that decided he wouldn't use weapons. Here, it was Ishii that told him he didn't need weapons and then they just had a hard hitting match.
The match was a lot of kicks vs chops, lots of Ax Bombers vs Lariats, and at the end, it was Ishii winning with a brainbuster. I like the story between these two, with Ishii wanting to bring out the fighting spirit out of Taichi, and Ishii being the only person that Taichi seems to respect outside of SZKG. I can see them clashing again soon to set up for a 4th match later on.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Guerrillas of Destiny (C) w/Jado vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) - 7/10
This was a perfectly fine match that falls in between match 67 and match 84 of their rivalry. That's it, I've seen this match a ton of times and there wasn't anything new here other than Jado getting involved and BUSHI laying him out. If it's true that Tama Tonga is taking off the G1 this year, then why not have EVIL and SANADA pick up a win against some other team since they do need to look strong going into the tournament? I take it they didn't want the titles to go undefended for long, but well, there's always Kizuna Road.
Katsuyori Shibata Announcement - Shibata came out to the surprise of everyone, and pointed at the screen for way too long. But then, out walked...KENTA! Shibata introduced his long time friend. KENTA said that he is back in Japan, he is here to show what his wrestling is really about, he has a chip on his shoulder, and he is entering the G1 Climax!
KENTA vs Okada, KENTA vs Ibushi, KENTA vs Suzuki, KENTA vs Ishii, KENTA vs Shingo! Give them to me all!
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match
Dragon Lee (C) vs Will Ospreay - 9/10
Match of the night, this was a pair up I had been waiting to see in a long time, especially in a big stage like this. Ospreay worked the flippy style again for this match, but it was all pretty safe. They surely did Reversranas and such, but nothing that made me jump (more about that later). There was a really awesome but crazy spot were Lee set up Ospreay sitting on the guardrail right in front of the announce table and then Lee proceeded to hit one of this great bullet-like Tope Suicidas, but as you can expect, they ended up taking out half of the announce setup, Milano Collection taking the worst of it.
Another great spot was Dragon Lee's over the ropes Jumping Rana to the floor, but with Ospreay landing on his feet, which I guess landing on his feet is becoming his new signature move. Talk about the simple things. Last minutes was a race between Stormbreaker and Desnucadora, with Ospreay going super saiyan at the end, hitting his Hidden Blade and Stormbreaker combo for the win.
No, Hiromu didn't come out and at this point, he may as well wait for King of Pro Wrestling since we're going into G1 season and he'd have nothing to do. Given that, I was happy that there was no mention of him, no moves honoring him, and while it's unfortunate that Lee couldn't hold the title until his return, I also like it that they're not as predictable in that sense. Lee had shown his desire to do so, but stories don't always have happy endings just because the babyface promises.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match
Kota Ibushi (C) vs Tetsuya Naito - 9/10
So this is the one that made me jump and say FUCK really loud. There's a spot where Ibushi took a release German on the apron, I don't know if he intended to land on the apron, or go all the way to the floor, but Ibushi's head landed on the apron while the rest of his body landed on the floor. The replay looked terrifying, but sure as hell, my eyes were glued to every single motion that came afterwards. The match itself was great, they started pretty safe with a lot of teases and big spots, but once that german took place, the drama kicked in and it was just intense seeing everything that came afterwards.
I really like Naito here. This being Osaka, we know he ain't the most popular, so he went full Ingobernable, full heel, cocky, disrespecting, and it was awesome. For years, Naito hasn't been able to win the big one at WK and the story was always that he would flirt with the fans and that Stardust Genius would come out and he would fail, so maybe this time his focus is full on, he's Ingobernable an will stop at nothing until he captures both championships.
Another good thing I thought was that with Naito winning the title here, it opens up my personal pick for the G1 -- Ibushi. He could win the whole thing and not have to lose the IC before Wrestle Kingdom. Now, the second option is Naito, and you would say "But what about Naito's chances now!?", well, since he said he plans to be the first IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental double champion, then this also plays out nicely, he only needs to retain the IC, win the G1, win the heavyweight, and profit in glory.
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match
"Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada (C) vs "Painmaker" Chris Jericho - 7/10
This may have been the worst Okada match I've seen in a LONG time, and the worst big NJPW main event too. Anyone who says that this was a Jericho brawl is full of shit, and for that matter, anyone who says this was an Okada match is also full of this. This was Jericho trying to have a serious main event drama match, except he is old and exposed when trying to do a wrestling match. His matches with Omega and Naito were great because it was an all out brawl, dirty, slow, and stiff. This was Jericho pretending to wrestle, which ain't his forte anymore. You don't see L.A. Park doing lucha matches with Mistico for a reason.
The match itself was also just Jericho beating up Okada for 15+ minutes, Okada making a comeback, trade some big moves and tease, let me repeat that TEASE finishers, and then, out of nowhere, Okada rolled up Jericho for the win. Not a single finisher was delivered in this match, and no, I don't think it was to save them for a second match, i'm 99.999% it was because AEW Jericho can't be beaten strongly by the New Japan champion.
Furthermore, this match we know had no story other than Jericho calling himself the 'Painmaker'. I don't mind build a match out of that and it being a 'dream' match, but at least show what makes you the Painmaker. Fucking Walls of Jericho in 2019 is not really that painful looking anymore. Neither are codebreakers.
Post-match - Jericho attacked Okada, he teased putting him through a table, until the Tanahashi, in the most non-nonchalant way, made the save. It was like Tanahashi is seeing the beat up, he saw terrible things, and then he just stands up, 'jumps' the rail and hits Jericho with a couple of forearms. Terrible angle and made the show feel like it lacked an ending.
I don't need to see Tanahashi in the G1 if he's hurting and has a imminent match with Jericho coming, nor I need to see Jericho anymore, straight up. I think it's time for another Fozzy tour. A note for Jericho: Be more L.A. Park and less Y2J.
I think that last match made it seemed like I hated the show, but I didn't. I thought overall, as it's own thing, it was a great show, except we're talking NJPW and Dominion here, and the standards of both have been set at a really high bar in the last years and this one failed to deliver to that standard.
I REALLY liked the aspect of the show, making it the show where men would have strong wins and proclaim their interest in the G1 Climax. Kevin Kelly in his interview with Wrestling Observer mentioned that with the amount of talent all over the world and the level of prestige that the G1 Climax has achieved over, literally any other trophy in the world, that there should be more of a competition to get into the G1. and NO, i'm not saying qualifiers, that be boring and stupid to showcase some of the surprise talent like KENTA, but Shingo having to show he can defeat a heavyweight to get in is perfect.