Jado wins Pre-Show Battle Royal – 1.5/5
This was a fun little battle royal to start things off on the pre-show. It’s bad, no doubt about it, you’ve got a few (beyond) older talent showing up like The Great Kabuki, King Haku, Hiro Saito and Yoshiaki Fujiwara and a lot of the soon to be retiring guys like Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jado and Manabu Nakanishi. But as bad as it was (including all the random eliminations by just having 5 guys pin a guy), it was entertaining. Cheeseburger from Ring of Honor being a surprise entrant was fun to watch. Jado coming in at the end with Japanese pop idol star Momoka Ariyasu and winning in pretty much a minute was a little dumb though. But it was cool to see a lot of historical names in Japanese wrestling.
Young Bucks def. Roppongi Vice, reDRagon & Matt Sydal/Ricochet to win the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championships – 3.5/5
This wasn’t nearly as crazy and entertaining as all hell as last year’s 4-way tag match was, replacing RPG Vice and Sydal/Ricochet with the Forever Hooligans and Time Splitters. But it was a very entertaining spot fest regardless. Cody Hall got a lot of work in the match for being not in it, a cool spot where he Razor’s Edged one guy (can’t remember who) out the ring onto pretty much everyone. I’m surprised Sydal/Ricochet didn’t win, I figured they’d get a quick run before going back to the indies for a while. But when the Young Bucks win, it’s hard to complain. They’re awesome. I’m 0-1 so far.
Toru Yano & The Briscoes def. Bullet Club to win the inaugural NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships – 2.5/5
I haven’t really watched a lot of ROH, so this is one of my first exposures to the Briscoes. And holy shit do I love Mark Briscoe. The sounds this guy makes over the course of a match and I do love the redneck kung-fu gimmick. Also, “I’m gonna kill you, boy!” was a lovely addition, embrace who you are and that’s what these Delaware chicken farmers do. I’m also surprised they won, I fully expected Bullet Club to win because I didn’t think the Briscoes would be making another appearance, I assumed this was a one time deal. But then again, that would mean giving Yujiro Takahashi a belt and that just won’t do. 0-2 for me.
Jay Lethal def. Micheal Elgin to retain the ROH World Championship – 3/5
Another guy I haven’t seen much of, Jay Lethal was all right in his first match I’ve seen of him. I’ve seen a lot of Elgin on the small Canadian indies, so it’s awesome seeing him in this spot. This was the closest I think you’ll get to the New Japan crowds caring about Ring of Honor as they really took to Elgin in the G1 Climax, but if it was Lethal against anyone else, they would’ve been sitting on their hands not happy. For those who don’t know, the Japanese crowd really isn’t that crazy about foreigners (or “gaijin”) in the matches as they don’t know who to cheer for when there’s no Japanese talent in them. Again I was wrong, expected Elgin to win, so I’m 0-3.
KUSHIDA def. Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship – 3.5/5
Make that 0-4. Although I bet Omega solely because he’s my favourite wrestler right now in the entire world. The match was good as always, Omega matches are almost guaranteed to be entertaining as hell. Seeing how bad KUSHIDA was working on Omega’s arm was refreshing and watching Omega use one arm for a few moves over the course of the match, something WWE needs to learn to do again, selling an injury. But Kushida managed to win via roll-up after countering the One-Winged Angel.
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma def. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships – 3/5
Hey, I got one! Make it 1-4, no goose egg tonight! It was a pretty obvious outcome, I’m starting to wonder if Gallows/Anderson are champs often just because there’s no one else to take them. But this made sense, Honma has been a favourite in New Japan for a while now and he needed a championship win. I would’ve given him the NEVER Openweight belt to signify him winning on his own, but to win the Heavyweight Tag Titles on the biggest show of the year with arguably the most popular wrestler in Japan (Makabe is on morning television, he’s very popular outside of wrestling) is still a pretty amazing moment for him.
Hirooki Goto def. Tetsuya Naito – 2.5/5
My last loss of the night, so my worst record of the night stood at 1-5. I’m shocked Naito didn’t win this match, he’s been white hot since his heel turn. When the interference from EVIL and Bushi failed, I still fully expected him to pull one out via bullshit and he nearly did with a low blow. But Goto pulled out the win in a somewhat forgettable match. I’ve never really been a fan of Goto.
Katsuyori Shibata def. Tomohiro Ishii to win the Never Openweight Championship – 4.5/5
Holy fuck this was a war! My ears hurt from this match, actually you know what? My everything hurt after this match. Kicks, chops, forearms, headbutts, over and over and over, oh my god! This was easily my favourite match of the night and with the other two matches left on the card, that’s saying something. But Shibata and Ishii just went absolutely fucking crazy the entire match, the no-sells, the knockouts, everything was so entertaining (and painful) to watch.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. AJ Styles to retain the IWGP Intercontinetal Championship – 4/5
A lot of people are calling it the Match of the Year already and while yeah it was a great match, I’m not so sure I can echo that statement. I think not having a 100% AJ Styles is a large part of that. The match was great, false finishes galore, the mockery Nakamura and Styles did to each other (the catching and eating of the bullet was fucking great from Nakamura) and watching Nakamura kick out of the Styles Clash was a huge moment, I honestly don’t know the last time that happened. With a Nakamura win and rumours circulating of both men giving their notice to go to WWE, one would expect if this is true, Nakamura might be losing at either New Beginning shows, likely in Osaka, depending on how much notice New Japan is getting with him. If this is true though, a G1 without Nakamura will be very strange.
Kazuchika Okada def. Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship – 4/5
I’m glad they finally pulled the trigger, passing the torch to Okada. I look at Tanahashi honestly as the New Japan John Cena, except he doesn’t suck, he just always wins the big one (can you imagine JBL calling him Big Match Hiro? *shudder*). There were so many times I thought Tanahashi was winning, the two High Fly Flows did it for me, I was visibly pissed when he hit them. But Okada somehow kicked out and eventually after a couple Rainmaker clotheslines, he finished off Tanahashi and finally defeated him at the Tokyo Dome. It was a great moment, clearly the fans were into it, they were loud the entire match and as many Japanese wrestling fans know, they’re usually quiet out of respect. But no, they were deep into this, they wanted to see Okada finally win the big one. And he did, what a moment it was.
My prediction score, 4-5
Overall Rating – 4/5