Hiroshi Tanahashi & TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs. The United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay) - 6.5/10
Good opener. A lot of UE teasing TenKoji like they've had since they started feuding after Wrestle Kingdom. Kojima was the babyface in peril, Tanahashi the hot tag. At the end, it came down to Ospreay vs Tenzan, with the former winning with an Os cutter.
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tanga Loa (w/Jado) - 6.5/10
Match was a lot better than it looked on paper, just based on how little we've seen of Loa by himself, and YH's reputation of being on and off. Loa has developed into a total powerhouse type of guy, so it was a nice clash with YH who was chasing the Butterfly Lock from the start. As the match started to head to the finish, YH started going crazy with superkicks, but couldn't notch Loa down. At the end, when YH finally went to hit Karma, Tama Tonga came down and distracted YH, allowing Loa to hit Apeshit for the win.
Post-match - GoD went to hit the Magic Killer on YH, but Goto made the save and we immediately started the next match.
Hirooki Goto vs. Tama Tonga - 5.5/10
This was sadly, really short. It went about 6 minutes. Previous match went double, the next match also went double, and arguably both with lesser quality wrestlers. The match was mostly a spring, Tama Tonga tried to finish off Goto quickly, but Goto managed to recover, take out Jado, block Tama Tonga's Gun Stuns, and win with the GTR.
NJPW King Of Pro-Wrestling Trophy YTR Style Texas Strap Match
Toru Yano (c) vs. Chase Owens - 5.5/10
This was too long for what it was, but I'm guessing because of the 4 corner stipulation, they had to give it some time. This surprisingly wasn't all comedy, they had little segments that looked like serious wrestling, Chase Owens looked like he was taking this seriously. The rule was whoever removed the last corner pad would win, so the match saw Owens remove 3 of them, only for Yano to make a comeback and remove the winning one. It's a YTR stipulation, so I think we could say he had a plan all along.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jay White (w/Gedo) - 9/10
This was awesome. This was a masterclass of selling at the hands of Ishii, he was just fantastic. White worked over his ribs, and in a perfect clash of styles, it was great to see White take advantage of his size and speed to mess around with Ishii, but then see Ishii get a hold of White and just destroy him. I felt this was quite obvious that White was winning, but they still had some good tease spots towards the end with Ishii going for several Brainbusters on White. Ending sequence saw Ishii escape the Blade Runner twice, but fall to a third attempt after Ishii's Brainbuster was reversed.
Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) - 8/10
By all means, this was an EVIL match in terms of Togo interference, but I do have to say that the finishing sequence was great, it was an LIJ EVIL ending sequence that I loved a lot, so at the end, I'm cutting it some slack. Beyond that, this whole feud was the combination of the horrible Money Clip stuff that we saw during 2020, and the terrible booking of EVIL from 2020, so coming in, I was a bit down on my hopes and expectations; however, I ended up liking this.
EVIL worked over Okada's back, which may or may not be a shoot that all those tapes are holding him together. Okada worked his usual neck and head, into the Money Clip and Rainmaker later on. Story of the match was obviously Okada fighting against the odds and the numbers game, which he overcame and won with the Rainmaker in a great sequence. Between this and the Ospreay match, I've noticed that with they're using the Money Clip, as a means to re-build the Rainmaker into an stoppable move. In the last years, the Rainmaker had become a move that would get kicked out a lot, but lately, it's becoming Okada's secret weapon again, and it's putting people down in one shot, when properly executed.
Post-match - Okada straight up apologize to the fans for having to put up with Bullet Club crap and that tonight's win could make us satisficed. Okada said that it's about time that he regains the IWGP World title, but as a responsible adult, he'll follow protocol and win the New Japan Cup. He said he knew the fans were tired of the double title thing, and so once he wins, he'll take the IWGP Heavyweight title and make it rain.
Good promo. It's not like NJPW scripts promos, but interesting nonetheless that Okada is saying some of these things. I wonder if he is out there trying to get to Gedo. If anything else, if he is our babyface and we agree with him that cheating is BC crap, then we'll hate it and boo it too when it happens.
Underwhelming show, I had high hopes for some of the match tonight, and while they were not bad or anything, a lot of them felt like they could had been far better. The card felt original to begin with, and that was one of the reasons I was hoping for more. Nonetheless, Ishii vs White was great and Okada vs EVIL was one of the better EVIL matches, though it's a low bar.