Ren Narita, Ryusuke Taguchi & Shota Umino vs. Roppongi 3K - 5.5/10
Good opener, but nothing special and I was surprised by how much R3K gave to the Young Lions. Shota worked babyface in peril, Romero and Taguchi did some comedy, and in the end, SHO won with a Lungblower on Narita. Shota Umino was really over here with loud 'Shooter' chants.
BULLET CLUB (Hikuleo & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Juice Robinson & Kota Ibushi - 5/10
This got waaay too much time given how one sided the talent was, especially if you also consider how long the babyface in peril run was. This should had been a squash, but they gave Hikuleo a lot. Juice and Ibushi had some good chemistry together, and not that they should be a tag team or anything, but they worked well together. Ibushi pinned Hikuleo with Kamigoye. After the match, I think Juice was trying to hit on Ibushi.
Birds Of Prey (Robbie Eagles & Will Ospreay) vs. BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) - 9/10
This was fucking awesome, really early in the show to set such a high standard. Ospreay was extremely over here obviously, it had been so long since I heard his Ospreay OLE chants.
The match was insane from the get go, BOP had a lot of double team moves ready. Robbie played babyface in peril for a while, Ospreay had the hot tag, but once that was done, they hit second gear and all four went into Tornado speed. Finish saw BOP hit a double Spanish Fly on Ishimori for the win.
Post-match - Ospreay challenged ELP and Ishimori for a tag title shot.
BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & Jay White) (w/Gedo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) - 7/10
This did more to build the stress between Naito and White than anything else, the match itself was perfectly ok, but they worked it safe and as expected, it was a lot of Owens and SANADA, who ended up being worked on for most of the match. SANADA would end up winning with the Skull End on Owens.
Post-match - White attacked SANADA with a chair, went after Naito, but Naito dodged and hit Destino. Naito help a visible 3-count on White tokinda show that he had him down if he landed Destino.
IWGP Tag Team Title Match
Guerrillas Of Destiny (w/Jado) (c) vs. Aussie Open - 8/10
Good semi-debut for Aussie Open, it helped that the crowd knew them and were already behind them. Their performance was great and I can't see why it wouldn't get over in Japan too. GoD did their part, they were great and seemed motivated for this match.
The match was pretty much every GoD match we've seen for a while, with them cutting the ring in half perfectly. The hot tag got a good pop, but it didn't give Davis that much time to shine, it felt like the match broke down into tornado style really quick. Not a bad thing, Aussie Open shines the most when the match gets chaotic. The closest AO got to winning was them chasing the Fidget Spinner, but failed and was quickly taken down by Roa's Apeshit and a Super Powerbomb for the win on Fletcher.
That was my only complain, they never made me feel that AO was winning at all. I didn't expect it to begin with, but I hoped they'd make me wonder.
NEVER Openweight Title Match
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. KENTA - 8/10
Ok, this was really really good, but KENTA got heavily concussed early on, he straight up collapsed, and the match continued with forearms, slaps, and such, making it kinda uncomfortable. I'll give them credit for making me forget this towards the end, but it still sucks. I can't rate it higher for those reasons, but 8 is still pretty high.
This was, as expected, like watching Shibata vs Ishii, a lot of striking, fighting spirit, mind games and showcases of fearness and guts, and the usual challenge to show me what you got so I can show you how meaningless it is. KENTA won with the GTS, which I felt a bit dry, but mostly because KENTA was doing bad and working slow at this point. I hope to get a healthy rematch one day.
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Title Match
Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - 8.5/10
This was, well, another Tanahashi vs Sabre match. Sabre works your joints, Tanahashi fires up and comes back. Sabre works your joints, Tanahashi works your legs. Sabre tries to slap you, fails, and so on. Tanahashi eventually won with the High Fly Flow. I didn't feel this was as good as their G1 match, which I didn't think was as good as their previous matches. Crowd went crazy for it, so it was probably just me.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki - 9/10
I liked this match, but there was something that didn't fully did it for me. Suzuki looked more like he was playing around with Okada and doing greatest hits, and not exactly being the killer he can be sometimes. He was awesome, don't get me wrong, but I never felt Okada was in trouble. Having said that, this had awesome storytelling. Suzuki what he couldn't make up with youth, made up with his expressions and his mannerisms.
Suzuki worked over Okada's arm. Okada worked over Suzuki's head. Story saw Suzuki early on get in Okada's head when he would laugh at Okada's striking, while also delivering some heavy offense both in and outside the ring. Okada would come back and get into Suzuki's game, where they went back and forward, but Okada just can't outstrike Suzuki. They started chasing the Tombstone Piledriver and the Sleeperhold in order to follow with the Rainmaker and GSP respectively.
Last few minutes were great. Okada landed 2 Rainmakers, and suddenly Master Striker Suzuki woke up and hit an AWESOME striking combo on Okada over and over again, making the crowd go crazy. Okada would block the GSP again, follow with the Spinning Tombstone and finally land the Rainmaker to seal the deal.
Suzuki looked great. I think he lacked that killer aura he had a year ago and seemed more as someone that wanted to toy and destroy Okada. I really hope this isn't Suzuki's last chance at the title, I think he deserves a bigger stage before he can't compete at this level.
Post-match - It was simple and thus I loved it. Okada was cutting his winner promo as usual. SANADA came down and simply said in English "Hey England, next time you see me, I'll be IWGP Champion" and walked away. Okada mostly cut the promo in Japanese, so I think the fans were having trouble knowing when or how to react, so they just cheered every time Okada made a pause.
Okada vs SANADA takes place at King of Pro Wrestling. I don't think SANADA can lose again, he's lost too many, but given the time of the year, I also can't see him winning (I wouldn't be opposed to a 1-2 month long reign tho). I think they're going Broadway at KOPW.
This ended up being a great show that probably got buried in the weekend because of AEW and New Japan's audio problems, which made more news than the matches because people like to bring up the bad things more than the good things. Yes, audio sucked, but it wasn't a detriment at all, the wrestling speaks for itself.
Crowd was really good, they were excited for everything and everyone. I really missed Ospreay and Sabre's UK chants.