CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs. BULLET CLUB (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) (w/Dick Togo) - 4.5/10
This was a nothing match, good wrestling, but we got the cocky, multi-person match Okada that does a bit of comedy and undermines his opponents. With many other wrestlers I'd say that it was disrespectful, but it's pretty spot on with Okada's personality.
The match was a lot of chaos, no pun intended, with a lot of Yano stuff and Okada jumping in and out, and obviously, a lot of Togo interfering. With only about 7 minutes and so much stuff going on, we really couldn't get to see any greatness from an Okada vs EVIL pair up, the small amount of time they did, it was full of interference and outside the ring brawling. Yano pinned Yujiro at the end after a lowblow behind the referee's sight.
Kota Ibushi, Master Wato, SHO & Tomoaki Honma vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) - 6.5/10
This was arguably good, well wrestled by all, even Honma, but with so many people involved and so little time given to them, we didn't really get to see much of momentum building or anything, especially because this match is building three future single matches. Having said that, all pair ups did get featured if even for 2 minutes on their own, plus a Honma babyface in peril run. Finish saw SHO pin BUSHI.
Post-match - Backstage, Hiromu seemed to be trying to do something with SHO, but Ibushi interrupted them, likely by coincidence. Hiromu didn't continue with whatever he wanted to do, but he did antagonize Ibushi, who SHOULD by all means, be his opponent at the Anniversary show.
Loser Must Stop Using The Mongolian Chop
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Great-O-Khan - 6/10
I'm sure I'm not the only one that came in to this match with the least amount of expectations. Tenzan hasn't been able to move for a while now, and O-Khan is still not at the level of someone that can carry another to a match. Once they announced the Mongolian Chop stipulation later in the build up, the match did become for me something that was more than just the in-ring wrestling, but the story and outcome, and that ended up being the key of what I liked about this match.
O-Khan is less than a year in as a proper roster member, he has started using the Mongolian Chop and it could be damaging to take it away from him so early on; yet, he's not established enough that tweeks on his moveset would kill him. On the other corner, Tenzan is in the twilight of his 30 year career, and he has been tied to the Mongolian Chop so much, that taking it away from him feels like a luchador's unmasking. There are many arguments for either man to win and keep the Chop.
So the match itself wasn't a masterclass in workrate, but given the stipulation, it generated tons of drama. It was obviously all built around hitting Mongolian Chops, climaxing with a couple of great near falls for both men, right before GOK hit the claw chokeslam for the win. Tenzan was great, he really sold it and made me care for him getting the win.
This feels like the start of the Tenzan retirement tour. Not necessarily in the next show or month, I could see TenCozy having a run against UE or Guerrillas of Destiny, but taking away his big signature move, it all feels like the (new) beginning of the end.
No Disqualification Match
Satoshi Kojima vs. Will Ospreay - 7.5/10
Not usual we get a No DQs match in NJPW, and because it of, it felt both out of place and unique at the same time. Kojima was fantastic and Ospreay took crazy bumps and shots for him. They had trashcans, tables, one ladder, chairs, and a guitar. Arguably the two best bumps where Ospreay going from the top turnbuckle to a ladder bridge on the floor, and Ospreay powerbombing Kojima through a table in the corner. At the end, Kojima was dropped with the Stormbreaker for the win and the 2-0 night for UE.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - 9/10
This was just great. I wouldn't go as far as calling it a clash of styles, but there was definitely a clash how both men work their matches, and that was in a sense, both the strength and weakness of the match. Tanahashi is now more of a methodical slow wrestler that strengthens his matches with selling and limb work; in contrast, Shingo is a fast paced stiff looking striking machine. Shingo's explosiveness and stiffness, mixed with Tanahashi's pacing and psychology, and both men's perfect selling was all a recipe for success.
When I say that this clash also kinda hurt the match, I mean that Shingo's natural human movement is way faster than Tanahashi's current reaction and movement speed, and so on a constant basis, I kept seeing Shingo have to wait for Tanahashi to either catch up, or execute a move, and I kept noticing it. It wasn't a big detriment to the match, just made some stuff look less smooth at times.
Tanahashi focused on Shingo's leg throughout the match. Shingo kinda switched between going upper body damage with the usual move set, but also went for a couple of attacks on the leg of Tanahashi. There was one particular move that was quite scary when Shingo hit the Made in Japan and straight up dropped Tana on top of his head, he didn't fully rotate him into his back and so Tana had a bad landing. At the end, Tanahashi won with the couple of High Fly Flow.
It was somewhat surprising that Tanahashi would win this title, but when we think about it, he IC title is stuck with Ibushi right now, and with no international travel, there is no point in giving him the US title. Even knowing who his first challenger will be, I quite hopeful this could trigger a couple of rivalries we rarely get like Tana vs Ishii or Tana vs Goto, or even Tana vs Cobb.
Post-match - Tanahashi and Shingo had a small moment together where Shingo acknowledged he lost, but also that he wasn't going to let this loss be the last time. Tanahashi celebrated his win doing air guitar, and just when we all felt we were done, Great O-Khan jumped Tanahashi from behind, made his intensions clear that he is coming for the NEVER title.
Good show, but a lot of it just kinda went by without notice. 3-out-of-2 matches were worth checking out, with one potentially making a lot of top 10 matches of the year once we close off 2021.