New Japan Pro Wrestling Royal Quest – 31/08/2019

Hello You!

As of checking today the 2019 J Cup isn’t up on New Japan World yet, but the Royal Quest show from last week in London is, so that’s what we’ll look at today. I’ve actually managed to avoid all spoilers for it, so this will be a complete surprise to me. I’m fully expecting J Cup spoilers though, mainly because this show happened after that tournament concluded, but I’ll refrain from writing them here in case you are also holding out to find out what happened (Kind of weird from New Japan actually, you’d think that they’d upload the shows in order because watching this show kind of ruins the J Cup?) If everyone else could please kindly refrain from J Cup spoilers in the comments then that would be nice as well, just in case we have some readers here who are waiting to watch it and don’t want it spoiled. Cheers!

The big match on top of course will be Kazuchika Okada Vs Everyone’s Favourite Angry Old Man Minoru Suzuki, in a match which I am mightily excited for!

So let’s quit my jibber jabbering and watch some chuffing wrestling!

The event is emanating from the Copper Box in London on the 31st of August 2019

Calling the action are Kevin Kelly and Gino Bambino

We get a nice opening video package to start, with the voice over actor doing a fantastic job. He sounds a lot like Michael McConnohie actually (Who notably did the VO work in Crackdown)

Opening Match
Rocky Romero, Sho and Yoh Vs Rysuke Taguchi, Ren Narita and Shota Umino

First off the well reported audio issues of the English feed rear their head right away, as the commentary sounds muffled and the ring announcer mic echoes something fierce. Umino isn’t wearing his Jon Moxley entrance jacket here, which I hope doesn’t mean their relationship is no longer ongoing. Yoh and Umino start us out, with Umino getting the better of things with a running dropkick as the crowd chants for him. Sho and Yoh run wild wild some tag offence in reply, but that brings Taguchi in to foil them. Rocky regains control for his team, as the crowd now chants for him along to the tune of Seven Nation Army, and that leads to Umino getting worked over in the Roppongi 3K corner.

Romero goes for a brain buster on Umino, but Umino counters it into a vertical suplex before making the tag to Taguchi, and it’s Hip Attacks For Everyone! Taguchi heads up and splats Romero right in the face with his bum, but Romero is able to kick out at two and then starts delivering a series of clotheslines in the corner before getting a hip attack of his own for the double down. Narita gets the tag and that leads to the Young Lions getting some double team attacks on Sho for two. Narita goes to a nice cloverleaf like move on Sho, but Sho makes the ropes to break the hold.

Everyone runs in with moves, as the match is sneaking towards Finisher Madness. Sho and Yoh get the 3K (Flapjack into a Complete Shot) on Taguchi, but he isn’t the legal man, so they go for it on Narita as well. Narita manages to fight that off and gets a roll up on Sho for two. Sho replies by kneeing Narita in the face and goes for a deadlift German Suplex, only for Narita to counter that into a roll up for another two. Narita slaps Sho in the face, but then runs into a big clothesline and gets promptly German Suplexed for two. Sho gets a powerbomb onto the knees next however, and Narita ain’t kicking out of that.

WINNERS: ROCKY ROMERO, SHO AND YOH
RATING: **1/2

Fun opener that warmed the crowd up whilst also giving Narita a chance to shine a little before getting pinned. No complaints from me!

Match Two
Kota Ibushi and Juice Robinson Vs Yujiro Takahashi and Hikuleo

Sadly Yujiro hasn’t brought any female company with him this time like he did last year in Altrincham. Hikuleo is a tall lad, whose a bit gangly but could possibly end up being something in time if his family heritage is anything to go off (Kelly said he was related to Guerrillas of Destiny during his entrance). Ibushi is of course massively over with the crowd, on account of being the reigning G1 Climax Tournament winner, as well as being a darn handsome man.

Hikuleo immediately starts heeling out the joint by knocking Juice off the apron and cheap shotting Ibushi. Ibushi replies with a dropkick however and that leads to him and Robinson double teaming Hikuleo inside the ring. Yujiro interrupts that however, which allows Hikuleo to cut Ibushi off with a clothesline. Ibushi gets worked over in the heel corner for a bit, but he eventually manages to evade a Yujiro attack and makes the tag to Juice, who runs wild on the heels. Juice gets a plancha onto Hikuleo and then gets a spine buster on Yujiro back inside.

Juice goes for The Juice Box (Fireman’s carry into a gut buster) but Yujiro slips out of that and gets a big boot, followed by a running dropkick to the head and a Fisherman’s Buster for two. Yujiri goes for his own fireman’s carry, but Juice slips out and gets The Juice Box before tagging out to Ibushi. Hikuleo catches Ibushi with a powerslam before he can get motoring however. Ibushi eventually gets a combo of strikes and a standing moonsault, but Hikuleo is able to kick out of the pin at two. Ibushi goes for the Kamigoye (Knee strike to the head whilst holding the opponents wrists) but Hikuleo counters it into a modified Michinoku Driver. Juice makes the save at two and Ibushi gets a double Pele kick on the heels before getting the Bom-Ba-Ye (Shinsuke Nakamura’s running knee) on Hikuleo and following up with the Kamigoye for the winning pin.

WINNERS: KOTA IBUSHI AND JUICE ROBINSON
RATING: **

This was more of a showcase for Hikuleo, as he was given plenty of offence and a chance to trade moves with Ibushi before finally eating the pin, and he did perfectly fine in that role. It might be worth keeping an eye on him going forward, especially if he fills out a bit because WWE could very well end up being interested as he’s already got the height going for him and a full head of hair to boot.

Match Three
Will Ospreay and Robbie Eagles Vs Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo

I still find it amusing how Ishimori, a fantastic wrestler, ended up taking the mantle of Bone Soldier when the previous man to hold that name was famously one of the worst New Japan wrestlers in living memory. It’s almost as if New Japan did it out of spite. Will Ospreay’s “Elevated” entrance music is still sadly being dubbed out here. I do hope the necessary people get together to eventually get that sorted out, and if not it would probably be a good idea for New Japan to give Ospreay a new in house entrance theme so that it no longer needs to get dubbed out all the time, as you lose the crowd reaction when that happens.

Ishimori and Phantasmo jump start things during the entrance, which leads to them taking stereo rana’s from the faces, which is quickly followed by Eagles diving out on to them. Ospreay and Eagles work over Phantasmo back inside with some nice tag stuff, but eventually an Ishimori distraction allows Phantasmo to cut Eagles off. Phantasmo does the dreaded nipple twist of doom on Eagles before following with a cross body and a Quebrada for two. Ishimori and Phantasmo work Eagles over in the heel corner now, with some nice underhanded antics such as hanging Eagles in the Tree of Woe and then standing right on top of his sticky wicket.

Eagles eventually manages to fight free however and tags in Ospreay, who does an excellent hot tag segment, which sees him take out both heels with high flying movves before getting a springboard forearm smash on Phantasmo for two. Phantasmo fights fight however and a fantastic sequence of counters from both men ends up with Ospreay countering a suplex into a stunner for the double down. That was liquid wrestling! Eagles and Ishimori get the tags and trade forearm strikes, which ends up with Eagles getting a springboard dropkick to the leg. Ishimori replies with a handspring Pele kick and then gets a nice German Suplex whilst Eagles is sitting on the second rope.

Phantasmo comes back in for some double teaming on Eagles, which leads to Ishimori getting a code breaker and holding Eagles in place for a Phantasmo moonsault, which gets two when Ospreay makes the save. Eagles gets a cool look backpack slam on Ishimori and then brings in Ospreay for an assisted Slice Bread #2 on Phantasmo. What follows is a wild double Spanish Fly from the top on Ishimori, which not surprisingly brings home the beans and liver for the Anglo-Aussie Alliance!

WINNERS: WILL OSPREAY AND ROBBIE EAGLES
RATING: ***1/2

All action and a heck lot of fun to be had in this one.

Ospreay grabs a mic post-match and requests that El Phantasmo and Ishimori put their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles on the line in a rematch. Fine by me!

Match Four
Tetsuya Naito and SANADA Vs Jay White and Chase Owens w/ Gedo

I do have to say, the GTA London inspired Union Jack New Japan logo is pretty great. They should have gone for World Cup Willie over the standard New Japan lion if they wanted to go all the way with it though. Owens is a guy I’ve always liked and you’d think that The Elite leaving to form AEW would open up a spot for him to get more of a push, but it hasn’t really transpired as of yet. Naito is of course wildly over with the London crowd and they do the cool thing of chanting his name with the same cadence a Japanese audience would do. I remember doing that with Misawa and Kobashi back in 2008 in Coventry and it was a lot of fun.

Naito takes his time removing his entrance attire as usual, which the crowd eats up; whilst White and Owens sell that they are impatient. Eventually Ibushi and White start us out, which leads to Ibushi evading White a few times, which leads to White tagging out to Owens. Owens demands that SANADA get tagged in, as he has a long running issue with him, and Naito obliges. SANADA and Owens do some nice chain wrestling, which leads to a stand-off whilst Gedo complains about hair pulling outside. Owens offers a handshake following the stand-off, but SANADA sees his treachery coming and catches a kick before going to The Paradise Lock. Owens fights SANADA off and goes for it himself, but he doesn’t get it right and SANADA is able to easily get out of it.

Eventually White can no longer sanction such buffoonery and attacks SANADA, which leads to all four men fighting outside. White and Owens get the better of that and end up cutting SANADA off in their corner. White is drawing heel heat just by breathing here and its great fun. Eventually SANADA manages to catch Owens with a dropkick from the second rope, but White stops him before he can make the tag and mocks Naito. SANADA fends White off however and makes the tag to Naito, who runs wild on the heels, sending White outside with a dropkick before posing in the ring.  Naito gets a swinging neck breaker back inside, but White is able to kick out at two. Naito goes for Gloria (Pumphandle into a modified Powerbomb) next, but White fights him off and then gets a snap suplex into the corner before knocking SANADA off the apron.

Blade Buster (Twisting vertical suplex) comes next from White, but Naito is able to kick out at two. White goes for a sleeper suplex, but Naito fights that off and gets a nice Tornado DDT for a double down. Tags are made to SANADA and Owens respectively, which leads to SANADA finally putting Owens into The Paradise Lock (You’re best off Googling it to be honest, I couldn’t really do it justice) and then dropkicking him square in the bum. Owens hot shots SANADA in response and then gets a nice snapmare slam off the top rope for two. White comes in for double teaming, which sets up a Shining Wizard from Owens, but Naito comes in to break the count at two. SANADA goes for Skull End (Dragon Sleeper) but Owens counters into an inside cradle for two. Owens goes for the Package Piledriver, but SANADA fights it off and then locks in Skull End whilst Naito holds White at bay. With nowhere to go and no help incoming, Owens is forced to tap out.

WINNERS: TETSUYA NAITO AND SANADA
RATING: ***

Good tag action there, which did a good job teasing an eventual White Vs Naito match, possibly over Naito’s IWGP Intercontinental Title. SANADA looked fine here and probably had to win considering you’d think he’d be getting a shot at the winner of the main event down the line at some stage, whilst Owens played his part well. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind Owens getting worked into the US Title picture with Jon Moxley and Juice Robinson, and I think that would be a good direction for him going forward. He’s clearly talented and has a good heel persona that makes you want to lamp him one in the gob whenever he smirks, so there’s potential to do something with him there if New Japan wants to.

Following the match, White attacks both Naito and SANADA with a chair, which will certainly mean that this feud must continue. Before he can get the killing blow on Naito however, the IC Champ lays him out with The Destino (Satellite Reverse DDT) and then covers him for a visual pin fall before posing on the chair.

Match Five
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Champs: Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) w/ Jado Vs Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis

Aussie Open are a team who have worked both Rev Pro and Progress on the UK scene and I quite like them. If doing well here means they start regularly getting booked over in Japan then good luck to them, as I wouldn’t mind that in the slightest. I do miss The Guerrillas old “Guerrilla Tactics” entrance music if I’m being honest, but there’s no doubt that their current entrance music has a higher tempo to it. Kelly points out that Aussie Open weren’t even originally a tag team when they both came to England, but they ended up finding each other and could now potentially win the IWGP Tag Titles, which is another example of why he’s such a great commentator as I never knew that fact and it’s actually a nice thing to know that adds to the Cinderella Story of the team challenging here.

The fans are quite split here, with Tonga and Loa having their fair share of fans in the house. Tonga and Loa jump Aussie Open right from the opening bell, with Tonga actually stomping away in time with the crowds chants in a nice bit of snide heel behaviour. Aussie Open fight back however, and are eventually able to control Loa in their corner as, the crowd appear to remain split. Eventually Jado catches Fletcher with a shot from his Singapore cane whilst Tonga distracts the referee, which allows The Champs to cut Fletcher off and start working him over. Fletcher tries making a comeback with some forearm strikes, but Loa puts a stop to that with a spear and then follows up with a nice hanging Jackhammer for two.

Fletcher tries making the tag a few times, but The Champs are always able to stop him before he can get there. Eventually Fletcher manages to back body drop Tonga and makes the tag to Davis, who cartwheels out of a double Irish Whip before getting a double clothesline. The Champs bail, which allows Fletcher to hit them with a dive and throw Tonga back inside for The Midnight Hour for two when Loa saves. A nice double team spine buster follows on Tonga, but he manages to kick out at two. The Guerrillas fan base loudly boos all of this of course, which only adds to the atmosphere. Jado tries the old cane trick again, this time on Davis, but Davis no sells it and then stalks Jado outside. This allows Loa to attack him however, which distracts Fletcher and allows The Guerrillas to lay him out with stereo attacks from the top rope for two.

The Guerrillas go for the Super Bomb, but Fletcher fights that off, which brings in Davis for the rescue. Davis knocks Jado off the apron and then gets a sliding forearm in the corner to Tona, whilst Fletcher dives out onto Loa to take him out. Aussie Open goes for their main double team move on Tonga, but he counters it into a Gun Stun (Diamond Cutter) in mid-air, which leaves Fletcher out. Davis is of course distracted by this, which allows Loa to come in and German Suplex him. Davis no sells this however, so Loa gets a big Rikishi Driver on him instead, which leaves Fletcher all alone for the Super Bomb, which is enough for The Champs to retain.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY
RATING: ***

They teased some mild jeopardy for The Champs there, but it ended up being a rather straight forward defence for them in the end. The action was good though and the crowd were invested, so I enjoyed it.

Match Six
NEVER Openweight Title
Champ: Tomohiro Ishii Vs KENTA

KENTA joined Bullet Club on the last night of the G1 Climax Tournament, which was a great heel turn from him and a really strong angle. You’d think that they’ll have KENTA win here seeing as it’s his first big singles match since his turn and losing would harm his momentum somewhat. It’s probably time for Ishii to move on to the IC or IWGP Title scene at this stage anyway to be honest, so a KENTA win here kind of suits everybody, especially if Katsuyori Shibata is going to get clearance to return to wrestling, as he can then chase KENTA for the Title going in to Wrestle Kingdom in January.

KENTA is clearly very happy playing the heel here, and seems to revel in the boos from the crowd. Ishii gets some pyro for his entrance and gets treated as a star by the crowd, who are totally into the idea of these two throwing down with one another. KENTA wastes no time slapping Ishii, but then bails outside before Ishii can get him back. KENTA stalls outside for a bit and then jumps Ishii when he throws him back inside, but Ishii shrugs that off and the two men start trading attacks, which ends with Ishii knocking KENTA down with a running shoulder block. KENTA fights back by DDT’ing Ishii over the top rope and then following with a clothesline from the top rope.

KENTA throws some stiff kicks to Ishii and then taunts the crowd before getting a back elbow for two. The crowd lets KENTA know how they feel about him, as he continues to work over Ishii. KENTA gets cocky however, which allows Ishii a chance to get back up to his feet and get a nice powerslam to turn the tide. Ishii throws some chops and forearms in the corner, which causes KENTA to sink down, so Ishii pulls him up and does it again in a great spot. KENTA replies with some slaps, but Ishii shrugs those off and demands more, which leads to both men trading forearm strikes. KENTA looks to be winning that battle, but Ishii fights back with some more shots of his own, only to then run into a big lariat for the double down.

KENTA gets a nice springboard dropkick and then follows with another running dropkick in the corner to mock Shibata. Ishii dodges a double stomp from the top rope, but KENTA keeps coming and stomps away on him whilst he lies on the apron. KENTA DDT’s Ishii back into the ring from the second rope and then throws some more kicks. Ishii won’t stay down however and no sells a German Suplex before getting one of his own. KENTA tries to reply with a powerslam, but Ishii isn’t ready for it and just head butts away at him instead. Ishii gets a big lariat and tries to follow up, but KENTA is a bit of a step behind the pace. KENTA gets a lariat and then heads up with a double stomp for two.

KENTA tries the Go To Sleep (Fireman’s carry into a knee strike) but Ishii fights that off and goes to a brain buster, but he kind of loses KENTA and they both collapse on the mat. I’m not sure what happened there, but there’s been a few instances in this one where both men haven’t been on the same page. Eventually both men just sit down and start trading slaps, which is a clever move as it gets the crowd immediately back into things and also gives them a chance to discuss what they’re going to do next. KENTA goes to a sleeper and then tries a PK, but Ishii blocks it and then takes KENTA down with an elbow smash. Ishii follows with a lariat, but KENTA only just manages to kick out and I’m not sure if he actually did or not.

Okay, something is clearly up here. Either one or both of the wrestlers have been knocked loopy or they’ve forgotten where they are in the match as the last 5 minutes have had at least 4-5 moments where something just hasn’t felt right at all. Guerrillas of Destiny join us next, which makes me think they missed their cue earlier, and Ishii fends them off before getting a brain buster, which should be the three count but The Guerrillas drag out the referee before he can finish the count. The Guerrillas lay out Ishii, as I wonder where the rest of Ishii’s colleagues in CHAOS are, and then get what looks like a botched Magic Killer before draping KENTA on top. The referee gets rolled in, but Ishii just manages to kick out for a big pop. KENTA goes back to the sleeper, but Ishii powers out, only to end up on the wrong side of a series of KENTA slaps. Ishii fights back however, only to walk into a stiff punch from KENTA for two. Go To Sleep comes next, and that’s enough to give KENTA the Title.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: KENTA
RATING: **

This was going okay for the first ten minutes or so but it pretty much fell apart after that. I have no idea what went wrong, but something just didn’t feel right about it at all. One or both of the wrestlers might have gotten hurt or it could just be that they don’t have much chemistry as opponents. (Since writing this a trip to Google has revealed that KENTA ended up his hospital following this, so clearly something went wrong somewhere)

KENTA can’t even climb the turnbuckles to celebrate with his Title at the bouts conclusion, which makes me think he either got his bell rung at some point during that one, or he just completely gassed out. Either way, it wasn’t the best beginning to his Title reign.

Match Seven
Rev Pro British Title
Champ: Zack Sabre Jr Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

Zack beat Tanahashi during WrestleMania weekend at Madison Square Garden and injured him in the process, but Tanahashi defeated him in a great match during the G1 Tournament, so tonight we get the rubber match. I do like how they’ve got the English subtitles during the video packages here; they should probably do that all the time actually. Andy Boy Simmonz joins the commentary desk for this one, being that he’s a regular on the desk for Rev Pro. Tanahashi gets a good reception, but I’m not sure if he’ll be able to sustain that against the hometown lad.

We not surprisingly get some good chain wrestling to start from both men, with neither gaining a clear advantage. Tana tries going after Zack’s legs, going to a nice bridging Indian deathlock, only for Zack to go to a bridge of his own to ease the pressure. Tana gets a body slam and then heads up to the second rope for a somersault senton splash, but Zack manages to dodge it and then goes after Tana’s arm. Tana tries fighting back, but Zack goes back to the arm to stop that. Tana eventually manages to dropkick Zack in the leg and then starts kicking away at it, as both men’s game plans seem to be clear.

Zack goes to the Cobra Twist, but Tana counters it into pinning hold for two. Both men trade roll up attempts, with neither getting the win, and Zack ends up twisting Tana’s neck with his ankles. Zack tries a PK, but Tana catches the leg and gets a Dragon Screw before attempting the cloverleaf. Zack fights that off however and then tries to transition to a cross arm breaker, but Tana powers out of that. Zack counters the cloverleaf again, this time into an inside cradle, but Tana is able to kick out. Another series of counters sees Zack go to an Octopus Hold, but Tana almost luckily ends up in the ropes after collapsing.

Zack gets a PK next, but doesn’t make a cover and instead goes for the Zack Driver (Michinoku Driver) but Tana counters that into a twisting neck breaker and then gets a Slingblade for two. Tana heads up top for the High-Fly-Flow frogsplash, but Zack catches him on the way down and transitions into a triangle choke. Tana fights that, so Zack easily transitions into a different submission hold, this one going after Tana’s arms. Tana rolls out of that and gets an inverted Dragon Screw, only to get caught in Zack’s European Clutch pinning hold for two.

Both men trade strikes next, with Tana eventually getting another Slingblade and then following up with a Dragon Suplex for two. Zack is still down from that though, which means Tana can head up again for the High-Fly-Flow, which he manages to deliver successfully this time and that’s enough for the pin and the Title.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: HIROSHI TANAHASHI
RATING: ***1/4

Big pop from the crowd for that. This wasn’t as good as Zack’s match with Okada in England last year, but it was still a well worked match that gave the crowd a finish they really weren’t expecting. It felt like there was another gear they could have kicked in to, which stopped it getting any higher rating wise, but I enjoyed it overall and it’ll be interesting to see where they go with Tanahashi now that he’s the Champion.

Main Event
IWGP Heavyweight Title
Champ: Kazuchika Okada Vs Minoru Suzuki

Suzuki laid a whupping on Okada on the last night of the G1 Climax tour and demanded a Title shot as consequence, which has led us here. Suzuki enjoys a big following in the UK, so there’s every chance that the crowd will be strongly behind him here. Kevin Kelly does a good job on commentary getting across the fact that the IWGP Heavyweight Title is the one major Title that Suzuki has never been able to win and, what with him now in his 50’s, this might be his last chance to do it.

Things are cagey in the early going, with neither man taking any big risks and instead focusing on applying holds and using them to gain an advantage. Suzuki almost locks in a triangle choke, but Okada is close enough to grab the ropes and break the hold. Both men trade forearm strikes, which leads to Okada snapmareing Suzuki down and following with a running dropkick. Suzuki manages to catch Okada in arm bar over the ropes however and then drags him outside, where he introduces The Champ to the railings around ringside. Suzuki tries attacking with a chair as well, but Referee Uno stops him from doing that, which allows Okada to drag Suzuki down the entrance way.

Suzuki tries to piledrive Okada on the ramp, but Okada blocks that so Suzuki decides to charge down the ramp with a big PK instead. Suzuki grabs the chair again, but Uno once again stops him from using it, so Suzuki just sets it up in thew middle in the ring and chills like a boss whilst Okada drags himself back in. Okada tries fighting back, but Suzuki just laughs it off and then drills Okada with a vicious forearm. Seriously, if they ever make another Virtua Fighter game then New Japan should cut a deal with them so Suzuki can be in it. Heck, dress someone up as Wolf Hawkfield like All Japan did once if it means getting the deal over the line, I need to be able to select Minoru Suzuki in a fighting game gosh darn it!

Suzuki continues to work over Okada until The Champ finally starts firing up, getting a running back elbow for a double down. Okada manages to get a DDT next, but Suzuki is able to kick out at two and then rolls outside so he can’t be pinned again. Okada won’t be deterred though and dives out on to Suzuki outside the ring before putting him back inside for a neck breaker. Suzuki fights the move off however and gets a big boot in the corner before following with a PK for two. Suzuki goes to a Fujiwara Arm Bar next, which Okada sells big, but Okada is able to get to the ropes to break the hold. Suzuki gets some stiff kicks to Okada’s right arm, which Kelly points out is the arm Okada uses for his Rainmaker spin out clothesline finishing move. It’s the same technique he used against Kenta Kobashi in a GHC Title match many moons ago actually.

Suzuki goes for the Gotch Styled Piledriver (Jumping Cradle Piledriver) but Okada fights that off and gets a running uppercut followed by a front dropkick. Modified Death Valley Driver comes next from Okada, but Suzuki is able to kick out. Okada slams Suzuki down and heads up top for a flying elbow which leads to THE RAINMAKER POSE!!! This merely angers Suzuki though and he stands up before throwing a big slap to Okada, as the crowd is very much torn. The crowd actually goes quiet so that they can hear the two men hitting each other, which is a bit morbid in all honesty. Both men trade strikes, with Suzuki’s being much louder, as I ponder whether this is truly the best strategy that Okada could employ? I mean, call me old fashioned if you will, but if I were fighting a vicious psychotic old man who had the power to hit me harder than any other human on Earth, I don’t think “standing there and letting him hit me” would be high on my priorities list. Just saying.

Anyway, Suzuki offers himself up for some forearms from Okada and he refuses to go down, so Okada actually offers himself up next, which leads to him surviving a couple but by the fourth one he’s on the mat and seeing stars. I have no sympathy for him in all honesty, though I respect him for his lunacy if nothing else. Suzuki goes for The Gotch next, but Okada fights it for all his worth and is eventually able to counter it into a neck breaker for another double down. The crowd thinks this is awesome, and I must say that I agree! Both men crawl over to one another on their knees and continue throwing strikes, until they are eventually on their feet trading again. Suzuki actually starts throwing Gran Hamada like head butts, only to then run into a dropkick from Okada. Okada goes to a sleeper on Suzuki next, but then lets go once Suzuki is weakened so he can throw more forearms.

Suzuki is wobbly legged following that, but is able to deliver his own dropkick out of nowhere before applying his own sleeper. Okada just about manages to get to the ropes, but Suzuki merely kicks his hands away and locks it back in before taking Okada down to the mat with it. Okada is practically going purple and his limbs are limp as well, but he somehow manages to slip out of the hold just enough to take Suzuki down with a Rainmaker, whilst also holding on to Suzuki’s wrist. Okada gets another Rainmaker, but doesn’t make the cover and instead picks up Suzuki for another one, which allows Suzuki to spin out and catch Okada with a slap. Suzuki follows with a flurry of slaps next, which Okada has no answer for, and the crowd are going nuts. Suzuki goes back to the sleeper and seemingly has it won, but he lets go because he wants The Gotch, which proves to be his undoing as Okada fights that off and gets a dropkick to the back of Suzuki’s head before following with another dropkick to the front. Rainmaker seems to be incoming, but Suzuki blocks that with a kick and goes back to The Gotch, but Okada back body drops out and then plants Suzuki with a Tombstone before hitting The Rainmaker in the middle of the ring for the win.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: KAZUCHIKA OKADA
RATING: *****

This was utterly fantastic stuff, as not only did it have a hot crowd but the story the match told was also brilliant, with Okada doing things Suzuki’s way because he wanted to prove to himself that he could, whilst Suzuki essentially threw the match away because he just had to win with The Gotch even though he had the sleeper locked in and Okada had no way of escaping. Just a wonderful match that I think everyone needs to go out of their way to see.

Okada seemingly wants another match with Suzuki down the line, which I think proves that he has straight up lost his mind. Okada grabs a mic for the usual post-match victory speech, although he does some of it in English for the British crowd, which is very polite of him. Okada thanks Suzuki for the match, at which point we are joined by SANADA, who seems to have watched a couple of Bond films before dressing himself this evening. SANADA says in English that he will be the IWGP Champion, as we seemingly have our next Title match set. Okada says he’ll still be IWGP Champ next time he comes back to London and we’re out.

In Conclusion

This was a very easy show to watch and the main event was a genuine MOTYC by my watch, so that makes it an easy recommendation for me. I can’t see SANADA taking the Title from Okada, but I’m sure the match will be a lot of fun. I’ll eventually get round to doing J Cup once it gets uploaded, but until then keep a look out for my ECW Hardcore TV reviews, which usually go up every Wednesday.