New Japan was dealt a rough blow thanks to Typhoon Hagibis and had to call multiple audibles throughout the night.
We get an announcement to start the night that Jon Moxley and Zach Sabre Jr. will be unable to compete in their respective matches tonight due to Typhoon Hagibis. Because Moxley is unable to make his NJPW US Title defense, he’s been stripped of his belt and the title is now vacant.
A replacement match has been made. We find out even the New Japan Dojo was flooded due to the typhoon. Even Kevin Kelly made it to the arena about 10 minutes before the show starts.
King of Pro Wrestling comes to us from Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Main Event: IWGP Championship – Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA
We get a slight pause before Okada reveals he’s wearing his shorts, not his long pants. The bell rings and the two men start trading blows immediately including dropkicks a la Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malinko.
About 10 minutes into the match Okada knocks SANADA out of the ring with a dropkick. He hits his running cross body over the barricade and then rolls into the ring and Red Shoes starts the 20-count. Rainmaker tells the ref to stop counting at 14 so SANADA can make it in.
SANADA plays to the crowd while Okada is trapped in the Paradise Lock. Photo: NJPW.
SANADA throws a punch that has nothing on it from his knees. Okada’s arrogance costs him as the fight goes outside again, catches him and now SANADA has the advantage and locks in Paradise Lock.
SANADA plays with the crowd to buy himself some time. Rainmaker isn’t going anywhere and he kicks him to release the hold. After trading a few more times Rainmaker hits a dropkick that looks like he’s suspended in the air for a second. He goes for a diving elbow and calls for the Rainmaker. We’re at the 20-minute mark.
The Rainmaker is avoided. SANADA hits a Skull End but can’t get the pin. He then slaps on a submission to wear down Okada.Okada finally fights out and sits up but SANADA still holds on. They finally both get vertical and Okada hits a quick Rainmaker for a two-count. We’re at the 25-minute mark.
After wearing Okada down with his ground submission SANADA hits one Muta Moonsault. He goes for another but the Rainmaker puts his knees up to block the second attempt. Both are down and crawl to their feel. SANADA get vertical first and eats two defensive boots to the face.
Okada counters Skull end into a jumping tombstone piledriver. His Rainmaker is countered, but he still has wrist control. Okada avoids a sneaky pin and escapes another Skull End. We’re at 35-minutes.
Both men avoid Rainmakers. SANADA goes for his pop-up move but it’s countered. Okada hits a michinoku driver, the first time he’s ever done that according to the announcers, and his Rainmaker to retain the title.
Okada improves his record to 7-1 against SANADA and is 5-0 defending his title at King of Pro Wrestling.
The rest of the card:
Match 1: Tag – Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH) vs. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
This is El Desperado’s return match from injury after suffering a broken jaw. He comes to the ring sporting the same entrance attire complete with the dried blood from the injury on the shirt.
Of course the Suzuki-Gun guys start off with a bunch of underhanded tactics including faking a re-injury of the jaw and knocking SHO and YOH into the chairs by ringside.
This match serves as a slight preview for the upcoming IWGP Jr. Tag Tournament.
At the 10-minute mark SHO goes for the Shock Arrow on Desperado that’s blocked. With YOH incapacitated outside, SHO gets the whiskey mist sprayed into his eyes allowing El Desperado to hit the Pinche Loco for the win.
Winners by pinfall…Suzuki-Gun
And yeah, Suzuki-Gun kick 3K out of the ring after getting their hands raised.
Match 2: Tag –Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomoaki Honma vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
Interesting pairing since Honma and Togi are such good friends, but these are four of the longer tenured wrestlers in NJPW so whatever. The announce team does address this point a little.
Makabe doesn’t have a problem hitting his GBH friend and Honma doesn’t seem betrayed by the fact and the two gladly beat the stuffing out of each other.
We get a nice summersault senton by the Ace on the Unchained Gorilla but a missed Slingblade attempt. Honma saves the Ace from a low blow by the Sublime Master Thief. The duo hit a double Kokeshi on Yano but can’t get the pin.
The Ace avoids a narrow pinfall by Yano and then hits a High Fly Flow for the win. Off-screen Togi and Honma are tossed near the announce crew which allowed the Ace to get the pinfall.
Winners by pinfall… Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomoaki Honma
Nice little celebration in the ring and no shenanigans occur.
Match 3: Tag – Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and Shingo Takagi) vs. Taichi and DOUKI
Another changed match thanks to the typhoon. Originally this was supposed to b e a 6-man match with BUSHI tagging with LIJ to face Lance Archer, Taichi and Zach Sabre Jr. DOUKI moved from the original opening match to this one.
Naito doesn’t take the shirt off for this match, meaning he doesn’t think much of his opponents.
Taichi isn’t happy that he beat Naito during the G1 and since Naito lost the IWGP Intercontinental title he can’t get a title shot now. Lots of weapons used at the beginning by both Taichi and DOUKI.
LIJ regains momentum after Naito hits a spinning DDT. Shingo goes for a drop on DOUKI but Taichi hits him with his microphone in front of the ref. Forcing a DQ.
Winners by disqualification…Los Ingobonables de Japon
Taichi hits Naito and the ref with the microphone and then “pins” him with DOUKI calling the pin
Taichi tells everyone to shut up, calls Naito weak and says Naito can’t be a double champion, but he will.
Match 4: Special Singles – Jyushin Thunder Liger vs. Minoru Suzuki
Liger comes out in “Battle Mode”. The announce team says he’s come out to this in 2012 and 1994. So rare. That means no full body suit and no long hair. Guy looks furious.
Liger spits in Suzuki’s face and then gets on his back, taunting Suzuki. After trading moves Suzuki offers Liger himself on the mat and more trading of holds.
Fight spills outside and Liger and Suzuki bot go for chairs. Suzuki gets off 4 chair shots and even though it’s not a no-DQ match we think the ref is going to let this conclude regardless.
Suzuki mauls Liger back in the ring and tells the ref to NOT count him out. He wants Liger to stand up again for more punishment. Suzuki slaps on a chokehold and Liger has to fight out. While both men are on the ground you can see part of LIger’s mask is torn off.
A Gotch-style piledriver is blocked and Liger hits a brainbuster that Suzuki just kicks out of. Suzuki keeps inviting Liger to unload on him. While Liger does, there isn’t much on those hits. Liger drops from exhaustion.
Liger gets one more boost of energy but a 10-second delayed Gotch-style piledriver puts Liger out. Suzuki simply puts his hands on Liger for the pin and Liger is motionless for the three-count.
Winner by pinfall…Minoru Suzuki
Suzuki grabs a chair and hits two Young Lions with the chair. He looks to unload on Liger but has second thoughts and tosses the chair. He instead drops to his knees and bows to a prone Liger. He gets up and walks off.
Match 5: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship – Will Ospreay (c) vs. El Phantasmo
El Phantasmo hits the Styles Clash on Will Ospreay during their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title match. Photo: NJPW.
ELP has every Junior accolate accept the IWGP Jr. title. Phantasmo is true to his word and sends Bone Solider to the back. Will sends his second, Eagle back as well. Going to hopefully be one-on-one. ELP offers a handshake but Will declines.
This turns out to be about a 30-minute battle of attrition.
ELP finally plays dirty when he straight punches Ospreay in the jewels and clocks him with the belt but Will kicks out. ELP goes for a cheeky nando kick, hits it and then hits a back body drop off the second rope. Will kicks out. ELP then hits a Styles Clash but Will STILL kicks out.
A V-Trigger can’t put Will away. We’re at 25 minutes. Will hits 2 heel kicks and goes to the top rope but ELP cuts him off. The two go to the top buckle and a headbutt by ELP sets up for a frankensteiner but Will counters into a powerbomb off the move.
Ospreay hits him with a nasty hidden blade and a Stormbreaker to retain..
Winner…and STILL IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion…Will Ospreay
Match 6: 6-Man Tag – CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi)
This one is more of a cooldown match, lasting about 12 minutes. Goto avoids a Blade Runner and then powers out of Yujiro’s DDT. Goto gets the win for CHAOS after hitting Yujiro with the GTR for the win. Both Ishii and Hashi kept the other Bullet Club members held outside for the clean pinfall.
Winners by pinfall…CHAOS
Match 7: IWGP US Championship for now-vacant title – Juice Robinson vs. Lance Archer
Lance Archer puts Juice Robinson through a table for their No-DQ US Title match. Archer was an emergency replacement for Jon Moxley who could not travel to the hurricane. Photo: NJPW.
We have Rocky Romero on commentary for this one. The simple explanation of Moxley being stripped of the title is that is the new NJPW policy. Fair enough. The belt is in the ring so maybe Moxley left it while he was in AEW. Not sure. Anyway, Lance Archer has a chance for his first singles title in NJPW.
Lance grabs the mic and says this is still a no-DQ match and that Juice will die tonight. Juice says he’s fine with that rule and we’re off.
Juice isn’t playing around with a spear to knock Archer off the ring and then unloads with a few chair shots. Archer fights back and chokeslams Juice onto the announce table. Lance undoes a turnbuckle pad, make that two, nope he’s removing ALL FOUR. THis is going to get ugly.
The announcer has to warn the crowd to stay back. Lance wedges a chair in between the ropes. Nope, just like with the pads he does this will 2 corners and gets two tables. So we have diagonal chairs and tables on the four ringsides. He drives Juice through one chair and then the other one. Juice kicks out.
Lance then decides to go Old School, but walking around two corners to show his agility. Mistake as Juice pushes Lance off the ropes. Juice hits a superplex, but Archer kicks out. We’re old Juice has a dislocated finger in his hand.
Juice hits a cannonball through a table on Lance but Archer kicks out. Lance then drives Juice through the other table and both men are down. Archer goes back under the ring for more toys. Juice gets the same idea. Both men toss multiple chairs into the ring.
Archer punches the chair into Juice’s face and the chair flies off into the crowd. Juice counters an EDB claw into a Juice Box but Lance kicks out. Juice then starts stacking chairs in the center of the ring. He goes for Pulp Friction but loses his balance, slipping on a chair allowing Lance to drop him. Lance redoes the stack of chairs. He drops Juice with a Black Out on the chairs but Juice kicks out.
Lance then drives Juices head into the chairs multiple times and latches on the EBD Claw for the win and the title.
Winner and NEW US Heavyweight Champion…Lance Archer
Lance goes for the EBD Claw again and David Finlay comes out for the save. He counters a chokeslam into a stunner and a turnbuckle assisted stunner to boot. Lance gets the mic afterwards and declares himself a REAL US Champion. He names Finlay so maybe that’s the next challenger.
Juice and Finlay embrace and it looks like FinJuice is back.
Match 8: IWGP Heavyweight title opportunity at WrestleKingdom 14 – Kota Ibushi (briefcase holder) vs. EVIL
Will this be the last time Kota has to defend that briefcase or if he succeeds will another challenger appear?
About 10 minutes into the match EVIL goes for a Bronco Buster but Ibushi leaps and double stomps him. The fight goes outside and when EVIL is on the top turnbuckle Ibushi hits a hurricanrana for a two count.
Ibushi loads up for his finisher but both men counter several strikes.EVIL shrugs off a few hits and clotheslines Ibushi. On the third attempt of Darkness Falls EVIL hits the move but Kota kicks out.
EVERYTHING IS EVIL is countered into a rolling pinfall attempt and that’s turned into a Bastard Driver for Ibushi, but he’s expended too much energy for the pinfall attempt. He follows with a last ride powerbomb but EVIL kicks out. We’re at 20 minutes.
A monstrous clothesline by EVIL and then a running Larioto only gets a two-count. EVIL hits two suplexes but can’t go for the cover. Another Larioto by EVIL is countered into a clothesline. Kota locks in both wrists and we get two more counters. A running knee and a Kamigoye gets just a two-count. Kota hits another Kamigoye and retains his briefcase.
Winner by pinfall…Kota Ibushi
Waiting to see if there’s another challenger for the briefcase. Nobody shows up as he walks back so it looks like he’s heading to WrestleKingdom 14 officially now. The announcers agree since he beat both men who beat him in the G1 Tournament now.
Matthew Asher is the sports reporter in Carlsbad, NM. Email Matthew your thoughts or suggestions and follow him on Twitter @Caveman_Masher.