Tonight is a historic night in the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling as for the first time they bring their brand to the United States live and in person tonight from Long Beach, California. Kazuchika Okada defends the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against “American Nightmare” Cody plus the First Round of the IWGP US Championship Tournament!
Review by: Erik Vasquez
10 Man Tag: The Young Bucks, Marty Scrull, Yujiro Takahashi, and Bad Luck Fale vs. RPG Vice, Will Ospreay, and Briscoe Brothers
As someone who is not a fan of so many men in one match, I enjoyed this bout. The big spots didn’t convolute the match and everyone got their big spots in. The one shining spot for me is RPG Vice. It has taken me a while to come around on these guys but this match showed me how great they really are. Finish comes with Ospreay blocking a Meltzer Driver attempt from the Bucks allowing Rocky Romero to get a roll up win.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Himoru Takahashi, EVIL, BUSHI, and Sanada) vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Dragon Lee, Voladar Jr. and Titan
Another fun that added something different despite following a similar match. Liger came into a huge cheer, a little Lucha action, Hiromu/Dragon Lee exchange (a rivalry you have to check out), and LIJ just being cool. Hiromu drops Titan with the Timebomb for the win. My only gripe is we got no mist from BUSHI.
NJPW IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Tournament (1st Round Match): Hangman Page vs. Jay Lethal
Looks like Lethal is coming in at less than 100% with taped ribs on display. This would quickly become the story of the match. What was most interesting to me is how minimal the damage came from Page and much more from Lethal’s own doing. Even with botching a second Lethal Injection it was a decent showing from both men. Jay Lethal wins after hitting a Lethal Injection clean. As much as I would love Jay Lethal to win this tournament, he’s not even at least 80%. I bet with my head and not my heart.
NJPW IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Tournament (1st Round Match): Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Juice Robinson
An absolute clinic by Sabre Jr. who relentlessly worked the left arm of the southpaw Juice Robinson. Juice gained some separation catching Sabre with a left jab but got caught attempting his Facebuster finisher. Sabre transitions into an octopus hold then modifying it with a double arm capture. Juice Robinson submits. Obviously, if you’re a fan of great chain submission wrestling like myself, you enjoyed this match.
Tempura Boyz, Yoshitatsu, and Billy Gunn vs. Jay White, David Finlay, KUSHIDA, and Hiroshi Tanahashi
This was the multi-man tag match we are more accustomed to seeing. I did enjoy Billy Gunn antagonizing the crowd and his future opponent Tanahashi. The exchange between Sho Tanaka and KUSHIDA as well as the “everyone gets a spot” portions of the match were fun as well. Jay White gets the win hitting Yoshitatsu with a Flatliner.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: G.O.D. vs. War Machine
Before the match, Raymond Rowe of War Machine requested this match be contested under No Disqualification. This match was pretty much four giant tanks crashing into each other. Chase Owens magically appears to help G.O.D. find weapons to use. He gets a Basaiku Knee for his troubles. Amazing spot with Tanga Loa no selling two strikes from Rowe and dropping on the third acknowledging it was the one that did him in. War Machine hits Fallout through a table for the win. War Machine is the new IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. A little clumsy but still a good showing from four agile big men.
NJPW IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Tournament (1st Round Match): Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii
The beginning portions of this match basically play to the quickness of Naito versus the smash mouth style of Ishii narrative. Absolutely brutal striking from Ishii guaranteed to leave markings on Naito by tomorrow. Looks like Naito is bleeding from the inside of his mouth but is still able to round off a beautiful German Suplex and working the weak cranium of Ishii. Naito caps off the offensive onslaught with an avalanche frankensteiner. Naito then takes too much time aggravating Ishii who ends up killing Naito with a headbutt. High stacked powerbomb from Ishii for a two count. Both men trade strikes for near falls. It took a couple of tries but Naito finally hits hit Los patented tornado DDT and continues to strike the head of Ishii. Naito hits GLORIA for two. Man, these two are just going back and forth hitting each other with some stiff kicks. Not to mention mixing in some great near falls. Ishii hoists Naito up and drops him with a wicked brainbuster right square on the crown of his head. Tomohiro Ishii wins the match and is set to take on Zack Sabre Jr. tomorrow night in the Semifinals of the NJPW IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Tournament. Definitely my favorite match of the night so far.
NJPW IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Tournament (1st Round Match): Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega
New Match of the Night right here. What a contest. Michael Elgin has one of the most versatile move sets in pro wrestling’s big men territory. Kevin Omega is the best all around performer in wrestling today with a masterful combination of speed, agility, striking, with a dash of power. Combine all of this and what you get is magic. These two men brought the house down. Elgin hit Omega with some of the most violent lariats I have ever seen. In the end, it was some seven knee strikes from Omega that spelled the end for Elgin. Omega caps off the heavy strike offense with One Winged Angel on Elgin for the win. Kenny Omega will take on Jay Lethal in the Semifinals of the NJPW IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Tournament.
Main Event for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) (w/ Gedo) vs. “American Nightmare” Cody (w/ Brandi Rhodes)
Lots of mind games from Cody to start the match, stopping and stalling any potential offense. Okada attempts The Rainmaker early but Cody ducks. Okada using his long lanky legs to hit a basement dropkick, sending the action outside. Cody hops over the railing and Okada follows him with a crossbody over the rail. Back in the ring, Cody takes over on offense keeping the offense on the ground. Cody hits a beautiful Springboard Dropkick landing on the button. Cody may be in control of the match but he continuously takes his eye off the game, spitting at Red Shoes the referee and flipping off the fans. Okada finally gets the upper hand hitting Cody with vicious strikes ending a DDT. Back and forth to gain offense from both men and in the corner, Okada catches Cody with a standing corner dropkick. The action goes back outside, Cody with a shoutout to Legacy, attempting a Hangman DDT ala Randy Orton, however, Okada reversed it into a DDT of his own. In the ring, Okada heads to the top. Cody leaps and pulls him with an arm drag from the top. Cody hits a Disaster Kick and when he goes for a second one Okada reverses it into a Flapjack. Reverse neck breaker from Okada followed up by a Diving Elbow. Cody ducks the Rainmaker and locks Okada in a reverse Calf Slicer submission. Okada finally makes it to the ropes. Cody is the first to his feet and begins to disrespectfully slap Okada. The slaps seem to wake Okada up and his begins to stomp the proverbial mudhole in Cody. Picture perfect Okada Dropkick followed up by a Tombstone Piledriver. Okada goes for the Rainmaker and Cody somewhat pauses things with a vile gross spit to the face. Okada returns with two vicious Rainmakers. Suddenly Kenny Omega comes down to the ring, white towel in hand similar to Cody’s actions at Dominion. Omega gets into a shouting fit with Brandi on the outside. In the ring both men trade attempts for finishers ending with Okada hitting Cody with another dropkick. Okada misses a Rainmaker and Cody hits a Rainmaker of his own! 1..2..kick out! Cody almost won the title with Okada’s own move! Omega attempts to throw the towel in on behalf of Cody. Cody catches the towel, wipes his behind, and throws it in the face of Omega! Okada hits Cody with his own move Cross Rhodes for a two count! Back and forth exchange leads to Okada dropping Cody with uppercuts. Cody went for a One-Winged Angel, Kenny Omega’s One Winged Angel! Okada slips out and lands a nice high angle German Suplex. Okada holds on to the waist of Cody and attempts a Rainmaker. Cody ducks and looks to hit Cross Rhodes. Okada fights out and somehow is able to reverse the exchange into a jumping Tombstone Piledriver. Okada hits a Rainmaker and wins! Okada wins! He retains the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in an amazing main event.
Overall this was a great show and was a perfect advertisement on why New Japan World is a great investment. Do as I’m going to do and sign up here: https://njpwworld.com/signup
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