Hard to believe that 15 months ago New Japan had yet to make an official full show on US soil. We’re now on NJPW’s third trip to the United States tonight as NJPW hosts Fighting Spirit Unleashed at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.
Tonight’s main event is a tag team match between the Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi) against the CHAOS duo of the Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada and the Stone Pitbull Tomohiro Ishii. The Young Bucks put their heavyweight tag titles on the line against fellow Bullet Club members, the Guerillas of Destiny’s Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa and Juice Robinson defends his IWGP US Heavyweight Championship against the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Cody.
Last year’s G1 two-day special was one of my favorite shows of the year so I have big hopes on those three main-event caliber matches.
We get a nice recap of the previous time here in the states. Our English commentary team is Kevin Kelly and “Good Old JR” Jim Ross.
Main Event: Tag – CHAOS (Okada and Ishii) vs. Golden Lovers (Omega and Ibushi)
Okada is still doing his depressed balloon thing and gives JR his balloon.
Okada and Ibushi start off the match. After some chain wrestling Okada goes for a Rainmaker that gets ducked. Ishii and Omega tag in and we get a rematch of their IWGP title match.
The two trade shoulder tackles. We don’t see it but Ishii spits on Ibushi while Kenny regroups. Ibuishi then comes into the ring and kicks Ishii as a receipt. Kenny hits a Kotaro Crusher for a two-count. Ibuishi then tags in to kick down the Stone Pitbull while Ishii replies with some stiff chops.
Okada tags in and goes to work on Ibushi. Ishii comes in and Omega and Ishii start battling. Ishii tosses Kenny into the barricade twice and then goes back to the ring where Ibushi gets double teamed by CHAOS.
Ishii starts to poke the bear by lightly kicking Ibushi in the face. Ibushi drops Ishii and tags in Kenny. The Pitbull and the Cleaner trade forearm shots. Kenny goes for a tornado DDT that doesn’t quite hit and it look like Kenny tweaked his knee in the process. Ishii hits Omega with a bomb and then tags in Okada.
Okada is knocked outside and the Golden Lovers hit a Cross Slash. Okada and Omega come back into the ring. The Lovers hit the combo You Can’t Escape Me double moonsaults but Okada kicks out of the pin attempt. Ishii comes back in and hits a suplex. He eats one from Ibushi who then eats a Shotgun dropkick by Okada.
We now have Omega and Okada face-to-face. The two trade forearm shots. Both men go for their finishers but have them countered/dodged. Both Ishii and Ibushi help their respective partners avoid finishers. This happens two more times and Ishii and Ibushi try to help their partners pull off double team moves. Okada hits a Tombstone on Omega and Ishii hits a running clothesline for good measure, but Ibushi breaks up the pinfall.
Omega counters a Rainmaker into an Uranagi and both men are on the ground. “This is awesome!” chants and Ishii tags in against Ibushi. Both men trade forearms. Ibushi kicks Ishii down and hits a standing moonsault, driving his knees into Ishii’s stomach before the pinfall. Ishii kicks out at two. Okada is tossed out and the Golden Trigger is stopped.
Okada’s dropkick is countered into a running powerbomb and then Ibushi hits a kick on Ishii. All four men are down. “New Japan” chants. Ibushi and Ishii trade face slaps, which turn into palm strikes. Ibushi hits a clothesline on Ishii. The two men continue to unload on each other.
Ishii almost gets the win when Okada double teams Ibushi, allowing Ishii to hit a high-angle powerbomb for a long two count. Omega comes in to help his partner. The two clear the house and end the match with the Golden Trigger for the pinfall.
Winners by pinfall…Golden Lovers.
The Lovers celebrate after a 23-minute match. BTE comes out to celebrate and Kenny speaks to the crowd and then translates it to Japanese. Kenny says he wants a rematch from the G1 with Ibushii next week at King of Pro Wrestling. This prompts Cody to share his mind. The TL:DR version is that Cody, Omega and Ibushi are trying to all get along and he wants Kenny and Ibushi to take part in a three-way match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. The men agree.
Match 1: Tag – ACH, Ryusuke Taguchi and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO, YOH and Rocky Romero)
It’s a good way to start out the night. Taguchi gets a lot of use out of the Funky Weapon hip attack including his version of the forever clotheslines. He then does his version of Shinksuke’s pose before doding three drop kicks. This comes back to bite him as Taguchi then eats (one after another), a triple atomic drop, double superkick into a lungblower and a double jumping knee stike but does kick out of the pin attempt. ACH hits SHO and YOH with a suicide dive on the floor and then Taguchi hits the Dodon on Rocky Romero for the pinfall win in a nine-minute match.
Winners by pinfall…ACH, Taguchi and Liger
Match 2: Tag So-Cal Unlimited (Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels) vs. Bullet Club (Chase Owens and Adam “Hangman” Page)
Another good, but quick tag match. SCU gets some love from the SoCal crowd. Late in the match Page goes for a shooting star press but Frankie catches Hangman with his knees to take him out of the equation. A best moonsault ever and piledriver combination end the night for Owens.
Winners by pinfall…Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels
Match 3: Tag – Flip Gordon, Chris Saban and Jeff Cobb vs. Best Friends (Chuckie T and Beretta) and Hiroki Goto
An odd combo for the Ring of Honor trio, but I am a member of the Flip Army, so I won’t complain. Funny spot comes midway through the match when Chuckie tags in and claims “I’m gonna kill this dude for real!” regarding Cobb before failing to suplex Cobb. Beretta of course jumps in to help his best friend after the failed move.
The members of CHAOS end up on the losing end when Chucky T misses a moonsault on Cobb. This allows for Cobb to hit a Tour of the Island for the duke.
Winners by pinfall…Flip Gordon, Chris Saban and Jeff Cobb
Fourth match: Tag – LIJ (SANADA, EVIL and Tetsuya Naito vs. Suzuki-Gun’s Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) and Zach Sabre Jr.
This one starts out quick as LIJ is attacked before they can fully enter the ring. Smith gets things started for Suzuki-gun when he starts to focus on SANADA’s legs. It’s a good back-and-forth match but when EVIL goes for Everything is Evil, it gets blocked by ZSJ, allowing him to use his chain wrestling to turn EVIL into a pretzel and get the win for his team.
Winner by pinfall…Suzuki-gun
Match 5: Tag – CHAOS (Gedo and Jay White) vs. KUSHIDA and Hiroki Tanahashi
Now that Gedo has betrayed the Rainmaker, it seems like CHAOS is slowly shifting back into heel terrirory as a faction. The Playmaker Gedo and Switchblade Jay White have their work cut out for them against one of the best in NJPW history with Tanahashi and one of the best juniors in the Timesplitter KUSHIDA
Good match with the Ace of the Universe and he fights a few times to hit Jay White with the Slingblade. At the end, the Ace goes for a High-Fly-Flow but Gedo clocks the Ace with a pair of brass knuckles, dropping the former champion, setting him up to eat White’s Bladerunner for the CHAOS win.
Winners by pinfall…CHAOS
Following the match Jay White grabs a microphone and soaks up all the boos before challenging The Ace. He asks Tanahashi why White wasn’t given a chance at the G1 briefcase even though he’s already beaten Tanahashi and then says NJPW doesn’t want to make the match because it doesn’t want the main event of WK13 to feature two foreigners.
Now it’s time for our first singles match of the night, part of the tournament to crown the new IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion.
Match 6: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Tournament, Semifinals – Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scrull
Marty comes out with a coat that looks like Enzo Amore got some thoughts on. It still looks cool, but a little odd seeing tiger/Bengal print on his coat.
We waste no time as Will starts off going for two covers in between three high impact moves including a shooting star press and a Sasuke special in the first 15 seconds. Marty kicks at two. Marty escapes to the outside but Will catches him with a suicide dive before he looks at the camera to say “Hello there!”
Marty starts fighting back and goes to work on grounding the Aerial Assassin including using the ropes to wear down Will’s neck.
We get dueling chants and Will gets back in control. The match ends when Marty hits the graduation on Will setting up the championship match between him and KUSHIDA for next week’s King of Pro Wrestling. The match lasted 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall…Marty Scurll
Match 7: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Chmapionship – The Young Bucks (c) vs. The Guerillas of Destiny
The Bucks start off hot with a few tag team moves before Matt’s back starts to hurt, allowing the Tongans to focus on the injury. G.O.D. gets out a table early in the match and it finally pays off in the end when they hit a 3D to reclaim their belts.
Winners by pinfall…AND NEW IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG CHAMPIONS…The Guerillas of Destiny
Match 8: IWGP US Heavyweight Chmapionship – Juice Robinson (c) vs. NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Cody
I know that Juice has been wrestling for quite a while even before his time in NJPW when he was at NXT. But he has improved so much since he and Cody met back at Wrestle Kingdom 11 when Cody made his Bullet Club debut.
The match comes to an end when Juice goes for a superplex on Cody. Both men fall to the ground and Cody uses Juice’s momentum to grab his legs for a small package pin to become a double champion.
Winner…AND NEW IWGP US CHAMPION…CODY
Cody celebrates with his wife, holding up both titles and posing. Crowd still shows its love for Juice with chants as Juice heads back toward the locker room. The match took about 17 minutes.