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New Japan: Power Struggle _ November 7, 2020
From Osaka, Japan. Our English hosts are Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero, and Chris Carlton.
King of Pro Wrestling Provisional Trophy (No Corner Pads):
Toru Yano © vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Yano insists on a gentlemen's agreement that there will be no whips into the corners. ZSJ ignores the demand. Yano goes right for a hard whip, but gets reversed, and he takes an early timeout to dramatically oversell a back injury. Yano knocks ZSJ into the rails and tries to reattach the padding. ZSJ cuts him off and considers using the padding as a weapon, but instead applies a cobra twist, despite Yano foolishly hopping around in circles. Yano escapes to hit a shoulder block, but his celebration allows ZSJ a drop toe hold. They brawl at ringside until Yano sprays water into ZSJ's face. Yano tapes some padding to the corner, which backfires when ZSJ gets driven in for a comfy landing. ZSJ repeatedly whips Yano into some exposed corners. Desperatio belly to belly suplex by Yanog buys some time. Yano softens ZSJ's back wit the exposed corner for some quick nearfalls, but ZSJ rolls into a grapevine ankle lock, and then an Achilles hold. Yano gets a hard fought rope break, but he might be finished. ZSJ drags his legs into the rails and reapplies the ankle lock. While trapped, Yano ties ZSJ's shoes to the rail and crawls back in time for a hilarious countout victory at 12:11. This was fun, **½.
Winner and still King of Pro Wrestling: Toru Yano
Sabre Jr.'s shoes have to be cut off from the barricade and he chases away a Young Lion with the scissors.
NEVER Openweight Championship:
Minoru Suzuki © vs. Shingo Takagi
Bell rings and they go straight to exchanging forearms. They get carried away trading rapid headbutts. Shingo hits a hard fought suplex, but Suzuki answers with a hanging armbar and running boot off the apron. Suzuki rams Shingo's bandaged back into the rails. Suzuki continues assaulting the back with a chair shot and half crab. Shingo throws a desperation belly to back suplex. Shingo sells the lower back damage while mounting a comeback, including a Dragon elbow drop. Shingo's disrespectful kicks to the head make Suzuki laugh, and they resume trading stiff blows. A frenzied exchange of counters results in Shingo's Death Valley Driver, but Suzuki pops up for drive by kicks, to which Shingo pops up for a quick lariat, and both guys finally collapse. The match restarts with Suzuki going after the lower back, but Shingo musters a lariat. Suzuki blocks Made in Japan, but his half crab gets an instant rope break. Suzuki applies a full crab and then really pulls back for an extra vicious half crab. Shingo gets the ropes, only for Suzuki to put him in a sleeper. Shingo blocks a piledriver and delivers a KO shoulder tackle. Crowd really gets into it as Shingo overwhelms with stiff blows. Last of the Dragon by Shingo ends it at 19:01. They told a good story about Shingo overcoming a back injury to pull off a scrappy win, which kept the match grounded in reality when at times when the constant headbutts and forearms to the face felt kind of phony, ***¼.
Winner and new NEVER Openweight Champion: Shingo Takagi
Great-O-Khan (with Will Ospreay) vs. Kazuchika Okada
O-Khan ambushes Okada from behind for an early advantage. O-Khan softens Okada's shoulder with the ring post and keeps him on defense with a big boot. Okada desperately counters with a rough flapjack. Okada rallies, hitting a DDT for 2. O-Khan slams Okada on his face, followed by a sliding dropkick into a tree of woe. Okada counters with his patented neckbreaker. O-Khan mechanically fires back with a TKO for 2 and puts him into a choke hold. O-Khan's Mongolian chops don't seem to impress the fans, and Okada surprises with a dropkick. Tombstone Piledriver by Okada, and he goes for a chinlock instead of a cover. O-Khan claws the face to escape and hits a pump kick. Delayed suplex by O-Khan, but Okada counters the Eliminator. Shotgun dropkick by Okada, but O-Khan blocks Rainmaker with another claw. Okada escapes and hits a Rainmaker and goes for the Money Clip for the submission at 13:09. This had no flow, energy, or any sense of drama. O-Khan's Genghis Khan gimmick needs some serious retooling. *½.
Winner: Kazuchika Okada
Will Ospreay's new look is like if Orange Cassidy decided to get a corporate management job. He mockingly congratulates Okada for passing his test, and admits that he used him to get himself over. Now, Ospreay can afford all the suits and champagne he wants. Okada is sick of all the talking and challenges Ospreay to a match at Wrestle Kingdom in the Tokyo Dome.
IWGP United States Championship #1 Contenders Match:
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA
KENTA is defending his briefcase for a shot at Jon Moxley's U.S. title. Bell rings, Tanahashi would like to lock up, but KENTA keeps grabbing his hair. Tanahashi hits a high crossbody, but KENTA disrupts his air guitar jam with a boot to head. Tanahashi saves face with a dive. KENTA smashes his briefcase into Tanahashi's head to take control. KENTA serves a properly vicious and methodical beatdown for several minutes. Tanahashi masterfully sells fatigue while hitting a desperation dragon screw and rallying for a flying senton for 2. KENTA comes back with a tornado DDT onto the top rope! Flying clothesline by KENTA gets 2, as does a wild power slam. DDT by KENTA, but Tanahashi kicks out with enough force to bump out the referee. Tanahashi blocks a briefcase shot, and the ref intervenes, which results in KENTA taking a shot. Both guys collide in mid-air for a breather. Match resumes with an obligatory forearm slugfest. Draping DDT by KENTA and a running dropkick into the corner. KENTA's flying double stomp gets a good nearfall, due to the ugliness of his landing on Tanahashi's midsection. Running knee by KENTA gets a less dramatic 2 count. Tanahashi counters into a sequence of spinning neckbreakers. Tanahashi counters G2S into a pair of Sling Blades for only 2. High Fly Flow is good, and Tanahashi applies a cloverleaf. KENTA struggles but breaks free for the Game Over (Crossface) for the submission win at 19:58. This had some cool moments, but never quite managed to break out from second gear, **¾.
IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Championship #1 Contenders Match:
Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White (with Gedo)
Ibushi is defending his Wrestle Kingdom title shots. White stalls at the opening bell. White throws the briefcase at Ibushi to gain the upper hand. Gedo trips Ibushi on the apron, allowing White to remain in control with a front slam onto the ring frame. Ibushi takes a beating before whipping Gedo and White into the barricade. White drives Ibushi gut-first into the rail, but Ibushi meets him in the ring with a dropkick. Ibushi's plancha is good, and he follows with a standing moonsault for 2. White comes back with a gutbuster for 2. Jay delivers another front suplex and then the Blade Buster for another routine kickout. They turn up the intensity and Ibushi scores a hard German suplex. White answers with his own German, and Ibushi take a hideous landing on his head. White pummels a helpless Ibushi in the corner in a sleeper position. Ibushi counters into a Bastard Driver but is too worn out for a quick cover. Ibushi rallies in desperate fashion, and overcomes White's blows to his midsection to hit a running knee. Sitout powerbomb by Ibushi, but White kicks out! Ibushi blocks a suplex and kicks the head, but stops to kick Gedo off the apron. Ibushi hits a leaping knee, but White counters into a rope-assisted backslide pin to steal the win at 18:51! Rock solid match with a shocking result, ***.
Winner: Jay White
White gloats with the Wrestle Kingdom briefcase while Ibushi looks stunned (to be fair, he's probably concussed).
IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Championship:
Tetsuya Naito © vs. EVIL (with Dick Togo)
They trade holds like two guys who don't despise each other, and Naito unleashes a flurry and applies a head scissors. Togo's distraction allows EVIL to ram Naito into the railing. Evil follows with a snap suplex at ringside and goes to work on Naito's back. Naito takes a bunch of punishment (including a blind chair shot from Togo) but stops EVIL with an urgent neckbreaker. Naito takes out Togo with a baseball slide dropkick and sets EVIL up for his slingshot dropkick. Naito applies a modified head scissors but foolishly breaks to take a swing at Togo. EVIL gets away with wrapping Naito's head in a chair and connecting with a home run chair shot. EVIL takes too much time hitting a Fisherman Buster and Naito kicks out. Naito responds with a tornado DDT. The chair assault to his neck doesn't seem to have had any impact in the story of the match. It's EVIL's turn and hits a backbreaker to give them a breather. EVIL hits a tackle into exposed turnbuckles, followed by a superplex. Scorpion Deathlock by EVIL, followed by a spinebuster for 2. Naito counters into a German suplex and then a cool spinebuster to buy some time. Super Rana by Naito and Gloria, but EVIL kicks out! Crowd liked that false finish. EVIL blocks Destino and hits a German. Naito rallies and hits a pair of Destinos. Togo pulls the ref out to deny Naito's certain victory. Togo chokes Naito with a wire while Yujiro Takahashi runs in for a kendo stick attack. SANADA runs in to clear out the Bullet Club. The match restarts with an exhausted slugfest. EVIL throws Naito's boot into referee Red Shoes' groin! Naito takes advantage with a pop-up low blow! Jay White waltzes in, teases an attack on stablemate, EVIL, but then puts Naito down with a suplex. Kota Ibushi runs in to kick EVIL in the head and chases White to the back. The match resumes with Naito throwing hammers, but EVIL hits a low blow and decapitation lariat for a great nearfall when Red Shoes wakes up. Crowd gets loud as Naito slaps the taste from EVIL's mouth and hits Destino one more time to win at 33:10! This was all over the place from a narrative standpoint, with the first half feeling like time filler, then a barrage of interference that did set up a hot third act, ***¼.
Winner and still IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Champion: Tetsuya Naito
Jay White returns to congratulate Naito but also remind him that he's got the Wrestle Kingdom briefcase. Jay announces that he won't wrestle on Night 1 at Wrestle Kingdom and will take his shot at Naito on Night 2. Kota Ibushi marches in and menaces White out of the building. Naito thanks the fans and calls it a night.
Final Thoughts: I wasn't really feeling this show and spent a disproportionate amount of time staring at my stopwatch. Power Struggle was a minor misfire and an event you can fast forward through.
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