KOPW Qualifying New Japan Rumble
Chase Owens vs Tomohiro Ishii vs Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata vs Toa Henare vs Togi Makabe vs BUSHI vs SHO vs Bad Luck Fale vs Rocky Romero vs Tomoaki Honma vs Hirooki Goto vs YOSHI-HASHI vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Yujiro Takahashi vs DOUKI vs Gabriel Kidd vs Yuya Uemura vs Yota Tsuji vs Toru Yano - 4/10
Granted this is happening at a time where New Japan is not gonna overload their card for the sake of doing so, but with such a packed roster, these New Japan Rumbles now feel more like 'get everyone in' rather than yearly surprises. If not for the KOPW stipulation, this would feel far more irrelevant.
This was pretty weak, a lot of people came in for nothing, guys like YOSHI-HASHI, Tenzan, or Takahashi just kinda came in, and while I blinked, they were gone. Then we had the best wrestlers get eliminated one after the other, making me care less about the match as it went on, at first you're thinking that Suzuki and Ishii and Makabe and Goto and SHO are likely going until the end, for the drama, but they would all get eliminated and at the end we had guys like Owens and a lot of Young Lions in there and it's just hard to get excited.
The only semblance of a story here was BUSHI's plan to not allow the YL to enter the ring, hoping that everyone would eliminate themselves first and he'd only have to deal with YL tomorrow, instead, he got his ass kicked by them, they got in the ring and got their asses eliminated by Fale and Owens, so by the time that Yano was barely making his self to the ring, we got down to the final 4 and Yano qualified without even wrestling.
It's Toru Yano vs Bad Luck Fale vs BUSHI vs Chase Owens tomorrow for the KOPW 2021 Trophy. Yay!?
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Jan 5th Title Shot on the line.
EL Phantasmo vs Hiromu Takahashi - 8.5/10
ELP is sporting new entrance gear, while he disrespects the Super J Cup bomber jacket. Hiromu too is close to becoming a walking muppet.
The match was great, lots of great action, both men looked great, the story was simple, but efficient. This was for the most part an ELP match, with him getting overly cocky as soon as he got some advantage, and then that cockiness costing him the momentum as Hiromu could cut him off. As the match went on, Hiromu got more and more offense leading to ELP going for the dick punch, I guess a throwback to how he won himself the Super J Cup to begin with, but Hiromu came back and ended up winning with a roll up, which was kindaa underwhelming to be honest.
Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori tomorrow for the IWGH Jr. Heavyweight title. ELP worked over Hiromu's hand all match, so it will likely come into play versus Ishimori.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Guerrillas of Destiny (w/Jado) vs Dangerous Tekkers (C) (w/DOUKI) - 9/10
This was about to be a 9.5, but then the finish sucked. The action was awesome here, everyone had their working shoes on, Sabre especially, I thought he was the MVP of the match, just all over the place, countering and locking in submissions.
Taichi worked babyface in peril and Sabre the hot tag, but it was at this point that the match really stepped up a notch into greatness. Both teams started hitting each other with everything, there was a great spot with Sabre countering the super powerbomb by locking in a Guillotine on Roa, that then led to Taichi aiding Sabre with a super brainbuster from the top rope. The finish that I've said I thought sucked saw Taichi counter Jado, who tried to interfere with the kendo stick, but due to the distraction, Tama Tonga got ahold of the iron claw and smack Taichi for the win. It was expected that GoD would win the titles, but I hoped it be a straight up Magic Killer.
I think there will be something here that GoD not only stole the titles, but Iizuka's claw from Taichi.
Jon Moxley Promo - Moxley cut a promo from some New Japan ring, he said that whoever walks out with the contract, he's coming for them. Yeah, sure, Mox defending the title? lol.
IWGP US Championship Title Shot Contract
KENTA (C) vs Satoshi Kojima (with Hiroyoshi Tenzan) - 8.5/10
This in itself is a really interesting match, two guys that where on top back in the 2000's on their own promotions, but that for obvious reasons didn't get to properly work together, but now, at this point in both men's careers, they get to go one-on-one for the first time. Worth reminding that this match was booked days before as a result of Juice Robinson getting injured in the Road To Tokyo Dome tour.
This match suffered a bit from knowing that there was no way in hell that Kojima was winning, but nonetheless, they had a good match with barely any shenanigans, the only time we saw KENTA go for the briefcase, Kojima clotheslined it away. Kojima mostly worked his style, with lariats and chops, KENTA worked the head, towards the GTS that he hit to win. Nice to see Kojima do well in a singles match at the Tokyo Dome, with someone like him, this may as well be the last time.
Strong Spirit Commercial - We got a video of Naito berating Kidani about the mobile app that Kidani had promised Naito 3 years ago, well it's finally coming out and it's called Stong Spirit. Naito told Kidani that he expects LIJ to be heavily featured.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Great-O-Khan - 8/10
Oka is back with the Mongolian style pants, which to me makes him seem less dangerous.
The story between these two is that GOK has been going after Tanahashi's leg for most of December, attack after attack with a chair on the leg, and so now, Tanahashi comes in fighting not only the injuries, but the humiliation and the weight of having a terrible year with Ibushi, with Henare, in the G1 Climax, and with COVID.
The match wasn't the action pack movie people want, but it was a good story of Tanahashi overcoming the odds and being true to himself. The climax of the match even saw Tanahashi find himself with a chair in hand and a downed GOK, open for Tanahashi to just unleash and let out all the frustration from last year, but instead, Tanahashi, being a true babyface, lawful good, decided to throw away the chair and win the match via two High Fly Flows.
This wasn't out of the charts and I expect people to shit on GOK for it, but it was still one of the better matches you're gonna watch this week all promotions included.
Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay (w/Bea Priestly) - 9.5/10
Awesome match. A young up and comer, hungry to make it to the top, betrayed his mentor and now has to go all out to back all those words. Ospreay had been talking a lot, so now he had to prove that he could also walk the line.
Right from the start, as cocky as Ospreay is, the match portrayed an Ospreay that had to fight from underneath and go all out, pull no stops. Really early in the match, Ospreay was already trying to piledrive Okada on the exposed floor. Going with everything worked a times for Ospreay, he landed some brutal attacks that really hurt Okada, but no matter what, Okada kept coming back again and again, not even the Os Cutter or an Ospreay Rainmaker worked, and it was just a matter of Okada finding his footing, and he'd stop Ospreay with one single, proper Rainmaker. In Ospreay's credit, he survived the Moneyclip and lesser Rainmakers, and at the end, Ospreay never got to hit the Stormbreaker.
This win (and match overall) leaves me wondering on what will be next for both men. Okada is simple for me in a sense, I think he goes and wins the New Japan Cup and challenges Ibushi at Dominion, or stall, win the G1 and challenge next year. Ospreay at this point has to bounce back from this loss, he couldn't beat the man he betrayed. He'd be a perfect challenger for Ibushi, say for a Sakura Genesis type of show, but he'll need to get some wins before going for that.
IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship Match
Tetsuya Naito (C) vs Kota Ibushi - 9.5/10
This lived up to the hype and cemented itself as my favorite match between the two. They worked each others heads obviously, but it wasn't the blatant dropping on top of the head spots from before, this one felt more under control and with a better story. Match saw a totally focused and under control Naito, that dominated for the early half of the match, and the Ibushi slowly started to make a comeback leading to both men chasing their finishers, yet neither was able to put down the other.
Ibushi kicked out of two Destinos and one Valentina, Naito kicked out of several Kamigoyes, but at the end, when Naito was going for a third Destino, Ibushi blocked it and hit a jumping knee and one final Kamigoye and got the win. Just great selling by both men, great action, just the perfect coronation of Ibushi.
Kota Ibushi is finally the world champion!!
Post-match - Maybe Ibushi was selling, maybe he was knocked out, but he hadn't realized that the had won and out of nowhere he dragged himself over Naito to pin him again. Naito gave the titles to Ibushi himself, put him over, and left.
Jay White walked out and told Ibushi that he's not the real champion because his reign will only last one day. Ibushi wants to be a god, and tomorrow White cuts his dreams and becomes a god instead. White left and Ibushi cut his winner's promo saying that he'll become a god.
Great show and great way to start the year. The only bad thing was the Rumble and even so, it was a dark match and it wasn't insulting. The rest was bell to bell great, the quality that we've come to expect from Jan 4th. If anything, the lack of crowd brought down a notch.