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New Japan Dominion
July 12, 2020
From Osaka-Jo Hall in Osaka, Japan. The venue is filled 30% to capacity, with fans spread out all over the arena. Our English commentary hosts are Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero.
Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Yuji Nagata vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, and Gabriel Kidd
Kidd holds his own trading holds with Taguchi to start. Honma and Kojima tag in and rough each other up for old time's sake. Honma looks to be in great pain after missing a falling headbutt, and is easy pickings for a while. Honma comes back with some chops, but Kojima obliterates his chest in return. Honma finally hits a falling headbutt and gets a hot tag to Makabe. Nagata cuts him off with an exploder suplex. Kidd returns and briefly runs wild before Nagata puts him in an armbar. The match breaks down with Nagata getting triple teamed. Kidd puts Nagata into the Young Lion Specialty (Boston Crab) but it's broken up. I get the sense that Kidd relishes being in the ring with Nagata, but he eats a knee lift and exploder anyway. Kidd taps to the Nagata Lock at 9:25. Good opener, Kidd's development is fun to watch, ***.
Winners: Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojia, and Ryusuke Taguchi
Los Ingobernables de Japon (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada, and BUSHI) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) and Yota Tsuji
Yano is his usual jovial self and gets spun around the ring by Sanada, who is still stewing after getting taken to the shed by his former partner, EVIL. Tsuji tags in and catches Sanada with a shoulder block. Sanada viciously dropkicks the knee of Tsuji while Takahashi sends Ishii into the rails. He finds time to tie Yano and Tsuji into Paradise Locks and dropkicks them into one another. Tsuji's back is compromised as LIJ pick him apart. Ishii gets a hot tag and serves Sanada up for Yano's catapult into the buckles. LIJ clear out Yano and BUSHI counters Ishii with a neckbreaker. Takahashi tags in and knocks Ishii down with a shotgun dropkick. Yano trips Takahashi and pulls the hair, Sanada attempts a standoff with Ishii, but some miscues result in Takahashi in trouble against the Young Lion, Tsuji. Takahashi breaks a Boston Crab and LIJ hit Tsuji with a triple dropkick. Tsuji counters with a rollup for a close nearfall on Takahashi, but he then runs into a thrust kick for another good nearfall. Takahashi applies a Boston Crab for old time's sake and Tsuji submits at 10:13. Routinely solid six man tag that signals that LIJ can withstand their recent setbacks, ***.
Winners: Los Ingobernables de Japon
Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, El Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Master Wato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Yuya Uemura
Tenzan orders his team to jump Suzuki-gun before the bell! The opening brawl settles into Tenzan choking DOUKI in the ring. Tenzan and Wato hit a double shoulder block on DOUKI. Tenzan hits some Mongolian chops, but Desperado pulls him to ringside. Kanemaru botches a springboard attack on Wato on the rail, but manages to DDT him on the floor anyway. Suzuki-gun triple team Tenzan with choking and quick tags. Tenzan reverses Kanemaru's suplex, but DOUKI prevents a tag to Wato. Tenzan hits a back heel kick and Wato storms in and lights up Suzuki-gun with quick kicks and a running corkscrew plancha. Springboard uppercut by Wato gets 2 on Kanemaru. Enziguri by Kanemaru and reverse DDT gets 2 on Wato. Desperado pokes Wato's eyes and is repaid with a dropkick to the face. Uemura gets a hot tag and pounds away on Desperado before hitting a dropkick. Desperado gets triple teamed and Suzuki-gun save him after a Wato moonsault. Uemura builds a bit of steam, but Desperado shields himself with the ref and finishes him with the Pinche Loco at 9:55. I liked the gameplan of this match more than the execution, with the green guys still looking green, **½.
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Hirooki Goto)
Okada is sporting medical tape around his neck and shoulders after taking Darkness Falls onto a pile of chairs, and Bullet Club immediately take advantage. Okada is moving gingerly as he boots Takahashi over the rails. Takahashi bites the thumbs to block a DDT and hits a Fisherman suplex on the floor. Ishimori makes many pin attempts before applying a shoulder vice. Okada survives a cravat before hitting Ishimori with a big time flapjack. Hot tag to Goto, who unloads on Ishimori, hitting a back suplex for 2. Ishimori answers with a thrust kick to the face. Takahashi tags and connects with a series of kicks and a reverse DDT for 2. Okada rescues Goto from a double team and cleans the ring, but Gedo sneaks in for a wrench attack. Goto hits Ushigoroshi on Takahashi, but Ishimori ambushes with a Backstabber and Bloody Cross. Takahashi finishes Goto with Pimp Juice at 9:44. This was solid and planted more story seeds for later, **¾.
Winners: Bullet Club
Takahashi plants Okada with another Pimp Juice for good measure. Bullet Club are pleased with themselves.
NEVER Openweight Championship:
Shingo Takagi © vs. SHO
They start with an aggressive lockup and trade dueling shoulder blocks. SHO busts out a vertical suplex for 2, right into an armbreaker. SHO can't hit a suplex on the apron so he dropkicks Shingo to the floor. Shingo blocks a dive and sends SHO crashing into the barricade. Shingo unleashes a flurry of elbows onto SHO's neck, and disrespectfully kicks the head. SHO summons some FIGHTING SPIRIT to retaliate with hard strikes. DDT by Shingo, but SHO answers with a spear. Rolling Germans by SHO impresses the fans. SHO dissects the arm but Shingo cuts him off with stiff shots from his other arm. Shingo's back suplex looks devastating but only gets a 2 count. SHO pops up after another suplex and hits a German! They trade KO blows for a breather and some applause. Match restarts with a slugfest, both guys really want this match to be great. Shingo wins the exchange but SHO counters with a Backstabber and then a pop-up powerbomb! SHO appears to hurt himself while delivering a pop-up backstabber! SHO's German suplex with a bridge gets a good nearfall. SHO goes nuts hitting rapid elbow shots and throws the ref away. They go for stereo clotheslines and Shingo seems to tweak his bad arm, but still manages a gutbuster. Shingo hits Made in Japan but SHO kicks out! Brutal lariat by Shingo but SHO kicks out at 1! SHO desperately applies a sleeper and reverses a counter to hit a piledriver! SHO can't hit Shock Arrow so he kicks Shingo's bad arm out from under him. SHO grabs an armbreaker with a headscissors but Shingo dead lifts him into a Death Valley Driver! SHO stumbles around and Shingo hits a GTR! Last of the Dragon finishes it at 20:10. Great effort by these guys. SHO was swimming over his head but still pushed Shingo pretty hard, ****.
Winner and still NEVER Openweight Champion: Shingo Takagi
El Desperado ambushes Shingo on the stage with a superkick and belt shot to the face.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship:
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi © vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.)
There's no time to remove entrance attire when Tanahashi and Taichi start duking it out. The champs dominate with double elbows and stereo dives, although they both seem to take bad landings. They swarm ZSJ and Tanahashi plays some air guitar to show he's alright. ZSJ blocks a kick and drags Ibushi into a leglock. Ibushi fights out of Suzuki-gun's corner for a lukewarm tag to Tanahashi, who serves up dragon screw legsweeps. Tanahashi's somersault senton gets 2 on Taichi. ZSJ interrupts Sling Blade and Taichi locks on a tight chinlock. Taichi pulls Tanahashi by the hair to ringside and chokes him with various accessories. Suzuki-gun isolate Tanahashi and dissect his neck and head. Tanahashi desperately wrenches the knee of ZSJ and makes the hot tag to Ibushi, who storms in with a missile dropkick. Ibushi's power slam sets up a moonsault on ZSJ for 2. ZSJ blocks a Pele kick and knocks Ibushi off his feet with quick strikes. Taichi nonchalantly kicks Ibush's face and chest, so Ibushi returns the favor with a bit more vigor. Taichi locks on a standing stretch block while ZSJ cuts Tanahashi off with a guillotine choke! Tanahashi reverses into a cloverleaf but has to break to save Ibushi from a Dragon Sleeper. Tanahashi and Ibushi plant Taichi and ZSJ with tandem power slams. Ibushi's sloppy sitout powerbomb gets 2. ZSJ flies to lock on a sleeper on Ibushi and passes him to Taichi for a Last Ride. Ibushi desperately lands a KO kick for a breather and round of applause from the fans. Taichi looks for a back suplex but Tanahashi reverses with Sling Blade! Tanahashi has to contend with ZSJ and his stiff slaps, but he hits Sling Blade for 2. ZSJ answers with his patented driver for another breather and polite ovation. Tanahashi is up first with Sling Blade but ZSJ blocks the frog splash! Taichi clocks Ibushi with the iron palm strike, misses Tanahashi, but settles for a hard back suplex. Taichi holds Tanahashi in place for ZSJ's rapid leg sweeps. They reach the "Stop, he's already dead!" portion of the match and finish Tanahashi with a superkick/powerbomb combo to score the belts at 28:50! This didn't set out to be a cathartic, balls-to-the-wall MOTYC, rather give Suzuki-gun a firm, vicious win over a couple of New Japan's best, ***½.
Winners and new IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions: Suzuki-gun
Taichi and ZSJ double team Ibushi for good measure and leave him in a heap on Tanahashi. The new champions stand tall over their kills.
IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Championship:
Tetsuya Naito © vs. EVIL (with Bullet Club)
Naito is going alone against former stablemate, EVIL, and his new Bullet Club brethren. Referee Red Shoes has a bad feeling about this and dismisses BC before the bell. EVIL excessively stalls at ringside so Naito hits a baseball slide dropkick and smashes him into the rails. EVIL sends Naito into the rails as well, and stretches his let between the bars. EVIL attempts Darkness Falls through a table and looks for his scythe from commentary, igniting Milano Collection AT to attack him in vain. EVIL continues to take his time while attacking the back and knee of Naito. Desperate leaping kick by Naito earns a breather. Naito makes a comeback and hits a slingshot dropkick. Naito's neckbreaker gets 2. EVIL survives a head scissors and slams Naito's head to the mat. EVIL mockingly slaps the face, so Naito makes him pay with an atomic drop and vicious elbow strikes. EVIL answer by repeatedly driving Naito's knee into the canvas. Naito counters with a neckbreaker onto the apron. Naito looks for a piledriver through a table, but EVIL thumbs the eyes and puts him through it with a SINGLE LEG ATOMIC DROP! NOOOOOO! I guess that's why we don't call him "NICE." EVIL looks to Pillmanize the leg, but Red Shoes shields Naito with some broken table bits. The damage may have been done as EVIL locks on a Sharpshooter in the ring. It takes Naito a short eternity to get the ropes. Lariat by EVIL and Darkness Falls only gets 2. Naito hits a Diamond Dust to gain some separation. They slug it out until EVIL thumbs the eyes, but Naito surprises with a tornado DDT. EVIL blocks Gloria but Naito hits a rolling heel kick and properly hits Gloria for 2. Naito shoves EVIL into the exposed turnbuckles and nails a top rope rana! DESTINO but EVIL KICKS OUT! EVIL blocks a second Destino and drives him into Red Shoes on purpose. Right on cue, Jado arrives with a kendo stick. Ishimori sprints in to hit a springboard senton on Naito. Hiromu Takahashi runs in for the save and clears Bullet Club from the ring. EVIL wakes up and hits Naito with an unprotected chair shot. Naito blocks Everything is Evil and nails an enziguri. Naito hits a flapjack into the buckles and follows with a spinning reverse DDT! Brainbuster by Naito, but EVIL grabs Red Shoes to block Destino. BUSHI runs in for moral support, but instead clocks Naito and chokes him with a cord. Red Shoes deals with BUSHI while EVIL hits Naito with a blatant low blow. EVERYTHING IS EVIL connects and Naito is finished at 38:00! This is something of a shocking result. This succeeded from a narrative standpoint, though the match itself was methodically paced and probably 15 minutes too long. I think EVIL is an interesting choice to be IWGP champion, but if 40 minute matches is not his forte, don't book him to go 40 minutes, ***¼.
Winner and new IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Champion: EVIL
"BUSHI" is revealed to be Dick Togo. EVIL rubs in his victory on the mic, seemingly ushering in a new era of New Japan. Hiromu Takahashi returns to save Naito from another beating.
Final Thoughts: Not a blowaway show, but definitely a consequential one with some major and surprising title changes. Hard to suggest skipping this one, even if you will end up looking at the clock here and there. Recommended.
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