KOPW Trophy No Corner Pads Match
Toru Yano (C) vs Zack Sabre Jr - 7/10
This ended up being great, there were barely any shenanigans. Story was that Yano miscalculated his stipulation and it ended up working against him, as Sabre was better at countering Yano into the corners, and so Yano decided to become anti-Yano and put the pads back on, which is the one and only smart way to plan a match like this for Yano.
The rest of the match was Yano surviving Sabre's submissions and trying to find a way to get the win one way or another, which kinda led to the only thing that I wasn't a fan of, it being the finish where Sabre lost by count out when Yano tied his shoes together around the guardrail. I felt the whole match had been well wrestled and that a pin reversal would had been better, but I do think that the finish they did made Yano look more desperate to win.
I was kinda hoping Sabre would win to have him challenge people to submission matches, but I don't have a problem with Yano keeping the trophy.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Minoru Suzuki (C) vs Shingo Takagi - 9/10
BRUTALITY! This was a fucking war all and all. They beat each other up with everything they had, to the point that I started to feel uncomfortable about the 50 year old man taking such a beating, but Suzuki is a beast. Not much of a story other than Shingo having his lower back injured and Suzuki went after it, and so Shingo had to fight through it and win at the end with the Last of the Dragons.
I did think that it went a big longer than it should, but they did manage to pick it up at the end again.
Kazuchika Okada vs Great-O-Khan w/Will Ospreay - 6/10
Ospreay came out wearing a beautiful 3-piece suit, drinking champagne, just a dapper looking gentleman.
Unfortunately for GOK, this was not that good and everyone will now say that GOK is shit and all that. Truth is, GOK needs to work on his strikes, they just look incredibly weak, and not that Okada's look great, but GOK mostly looks like he's pushing Okada around.
Anyway, the match was just GOK getting the better of Okada for a bit, then Okada making a comeback and winning with the Moneyclip. It's what it was supposed to be, but the execution was just boring.
Post-match - Okada called in Ospreay to the ring. Ospreay cut a promo showing off his expensive stuff, saying that he won't care about this stuff once he retires Okada, because he'll be the biggest name in the business and he'll be able to buy tons more of everything. He challenged Okada to a match at WK.
Okada's response was perfect, he said that his English is somewhat poor, but that he understood four words. Tokyo Dome, Wrestle Kingdom, Okada, and Ospreay, and thus, he accepts.
BOSJ/Super J-Cup Announcements - They made the card announcements for the BOSJ and bracketing for the Super J-Cup. The latter being the important thing, the opening matches are Clark Connors vs Chris Bey, TJP vs ACH, Blake Christian vs Rey Horus, and El Phantasmo vs Lio Rush.
IWGP US Championship Title Shot Match
KENTA (C) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi - 8/10
I can already hear all the people that are gonna start complaining that Tanahashi not only lost his chance to challenge for the US title, but that he verbally gave up to KENTA.
Match was just great Tanahashi wrestling, a lot of pacing. KENTA started the match with a lot of tactics trying to get in Tanah's head, which led to him having some early advantage, but then Tana made his comeback. They had a nice little striking exchange towards the end before they started chasing their finishers. They countered each other and at the end, KENTA got Tana in the GAME OVER and submitted him. There wasn't anything crazy, just straight up good wrestling.
There was one spot where KENTA, Tana, and the referee all wrestled for possession of the briefcase, that ended KENTA getting taken out and Tana blamed the referee with the most stoic face I've ever seen in him. Referee bought it.
Jan 4th IWGP World Championship Contract Match
Kota Ibushi (C) vs Jay White w/Gedo - 9/10
Wow. I'm speechless, haven't had this level of surprise since Lesnar beat Taker for the streak. We're still two months away from Wrestle Kingdom and it IS a 2 night event, so there's still a chance that Ibushi can either regain the briefcase, or win the titles before White can cash in the contract. I believe that Gedo has a plan like he always does.
The match was just a fantastic back and forward match. White did White stuff, and Ibushi did Ibushi stuff, and they merged nicely together. They worked each other's necks. The story as the match went on was that Ibushi kept edging White, even countering Gedo, but at the end, when Ibushi seemed to be everything in his hands, out of nowhere, White reversed a Kamigoye into a backslide, got his feet on the ropes, and for the surprise of surprises, he got the 3 count.
Ibushi didn't even know how to react.
IWGP World Heavyweight & IWGP IC Championship Match
Tetsuya Naito (C) vs EVIL with Dick Togo - 9/10
This match had all the interference in the world and everyone will complain about it, but I thought they were all awesome, especially White and Ibushi. First we had the usual Togo stuff, but Yujiro joined in to hit Pimp Juice on Naito, but it was SANADA who came out and took them both out and literally took them out by carrying them to the back. Later, when both men were down, White came down and teased turning on EVIL, but instead attacked Naito, only for Ibushi to run down and chase him away.
The match aside from that, it was all about Naito surviving EVIL's tactics, from chair shots, to interference, to low blows, to straight up surviving EVIL's power. The first 20 minutes or so were well wrestled, but kinda slow, felt like nothing was happening, but once the shenanigans started and things stacked against Naito, it got more exciting. We had already seen a big change between White and Ibushi, and I wondered if EVIL had a chance at winning and setting up things for the two day story at WK.
At the end, once everyone was gone, EVIL and Naito exchanged some strikes and conuters, but at the end, Naito hit a slap from heaven, hit Valentia, and Destino for the win.
Post-match - White and Gedo came down after Naito celebrated for a bit. White told Naito that it was Naito and him now that Ibushi and EVIL had both failed. White said that at Jan 4th, he's taking the night off, but that on the 5th, he is challenging for the World Championship.
Kota Ibushi came down and chased White to the back.
White is such a villain that he wants to break the Jan 4th tradition.
After everyone was gone, Naito cut his winner's promo and closed the show.
Awesome show by NJPW, every match delivered and some a lot better than I expected. Yes, Okada vs GOK wasn't that great, but it was still nonetheless 'ok' . Big storyline developments as we're heading into the end of the year and the road to Wrestle Kingdom.
From here on, we start the BOSJ and Tag League, so it's gonna get somewhat slow, but this surely felt like the peak of the season.