DATE: January 4, 2020
VENUE: Tokyo Dome (Tokyo, Japan)
ENGLISH COMMENTATORS: Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero, Gino Gambino, & Chris Charlton
NJPW is switching things up this year, turning Wrestle Kingdom 14 into a two-night event. Night 1 features Heavyweight Championship action as Kazuchika Okada defends against G1 Climax winner Kota Ibushi, Intercontinental Championship action as Jay White defends against Tetsuya Naito, and the first of two retirement matches for Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
- IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada
- IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: “Switchblade” Jay White
- IWGP UNITED STATES CHAMPION: Lance Archer
- IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: Will Ospreay
- NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION: KENTA
- IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa)
- IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
- NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe, & Toru Yano
- Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Tatsumi Fujinami, & The Great Sasuke vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Shinjiro Otani, & Naoki Sano (***)
- Los Ingobernables de Japon vs. Suzuki-gun (***)
- CHAOS vs. Bullet Club (***)
- The Guerrillas of Destiny [c] vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay for the IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/4)
- TEXAS DEATH MATCH: Lance Archer [c] vs. Jon Moxley for the IWGP UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP (****)
- Will Ospreay [c] vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (****1/2)
- Jay White [c] vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (****1/2)
- Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (****3/4)
-OPENING VIDEO: Tonight’s card is run down in Japanese. Apparently Jushin Liger is supposed to be Jyushin Liger? I feel like my entire world just shattered.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask IV, “The Dragon” Tatsumi Fujinami, & The Great Sasuke [w/ El Samurai] vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Shinjiro Otani, & Naoki Sano [w/ Kuniaki Kobayashi]
This is the first of two retirement matches for Liger, arguably the most influential junior heavyweight of all-time. I remember first seeing him on Japan Supershow III back in 1993 when I was six years old and I immediately became a fan. I didn’t get to watch a lot of Japanese wrestling growing up, family wouldn’t front me the cash for the underground tape scene, but I relished every WCW appearance. Real bummer that he’s retiring but I’m happy he gets to end things on his own terms. He deserves it. The opposing team is made up of former Liger rivals, which are highlighted on the big jumbo tron. Sasuke has a half-Liger mask in tribute to his friend. Hell yeah. Apparently everybody’s theme is being dubbed due to license rights, drowning out the pops. That’s disappointing as hell. It’s the dude’s last weekend, LET US HEAR HIS REAL THEME.
Liger and Sano start as the crowd goes nuts, their rivalry back in the day is the stuff of legend according to the commentary. I’d believe it. Liger with a side headlock and shoulder tackle, Sano sends Liger to the floor with a dropkick and follows up with a tope suicida. MIDDLE-AGED AND CRAZY. Takaiwa attacks the folks on the apron, Otani tags in and facewashes Liger in the corner, kicking Sasuke as well as an extra oomph. Liger drops Otani with a face palm, Tiger Mask tags in as does Takaiwa. Takaiwa with a series of chops, Tiger with a mule kick, Takaiwa with a Death Valley Driver. Taguchi tags in and brings the thunder with hip attacks for a two-count. Quick tag to Sano who rings Tiger’s bell with a spin kick, quick tag to Otani for a scoop slam and Yakuza kick. Takaiwa back in, corner clothesline and scoop slam. He gets the crowd clapping and drops an elbow from the top for the 1…2…Tiger kicks out. Tiger catches a charging Takaiwa and connects with a Tiger Driver (apt). Fujinami tags in, Dragon Screws for Taguchi and Otani and a Dragon Sleeper on Takaiwa. Sano breaks it up, Fujinami belts him with a right hook. Sasuke tags in but misses a Swanton (and damn near lands on his head). Sano tags in, Sasuke dodges the double stomp but not the spinning mule kick. Sasuke back to the top, Sano superplexes him off from the middle rope. Taguchi tags in but so does Liger! Liger with an avalanche hurricanrana for the 1…2…Takaiwa breaks it up. Tiger takes flight, Sano pulls Fujinami out for a brawl, Liger rolls Taguchi up for the 1…2…Taguchi kicks out. Two enzuigiris from Taguchi and a Boomayae for the 1…2…Liger kicks out. Taguchi follows up with Dodon for the 1…2…3. Liger doing the honors on his way out, gotta love it.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Shinjiro Otani, & Naoki Sano defeated Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Tatsumi Fujinami, & The Great Sasuke via pinfall (8:53)
- A fun and emotional opener. Love seeing the older dudes going full tilt, no regard for their age and out of respect for Liger. Entertaining stuff. (***)
Liger bows to all the competitors in the match and raises their hands in victory before his theme hits and he basks in the glory. Fujinami bows and raises his arm in victory. Sasuke and Tiger Mask put Liger on their shoulders so he can wave to the fans some more.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA, Shingo Takagi, & BUSHI) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, & Zack Sabre Jr.)
SANADA challenges Sabre Jr. for his British Heavyweight Championship tomorrow night, so this is a bit of a preview for that. Desperado & Taichi will be teaming with Yoshinobu Kanemaru to challenge for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Match tomorrow as well. Taichi’s opera man shtick won me over on one of the few G1 Climax shows I saw last year, cool to see him again.
Suzuki-gun attacks before the bell before things settle with EVIL and Suzuki in the ring. EVIL almost gets a quick win with a Bronco Buster, Suzuki responds with a triangle choke over the top rope to stretch the shoulder. Suzuki pulls EVIL out to the floor and cracks him across the back with a chair, Sabre Jr. works SANADA’s arm over then joins Suzuki in beating up EVIL. Suzuki rolls EVIL in, EVIL’s forearms are brushed off and Suzuki goes for the Gotch Piledriver but he powers out and eats a knee instead. Desperado tags in and applies various brief submission holds, including a camel clutch as Taichi rubs his boot in EVIL’s face. Taichi tags in and messes with EVIL, EVIL respond with forearms so Taichi goozles him and tosses him to the mat. Taichi’s mocking goes too far and EVIL connects with a suplex. Shingo tags in and pummels Taichi in the corner, Desperado tries to interfere and gets BOWLED THE F*CK OVER. Thanks for coming, bro. Shingo drops Taichi with a right hook followed by a clothesline, Taichi sends Shingo in the corner and belts him with a HARD ASS KICK to the face. Taichi rips his pants off (so that’s where Angel Garza got it), both men collide with clotheslines, Taichi with a kick, Shingo with a clothesline, Taichi with a jumping enzuigiri and both men are down. Great exchange. SANADA and Sabre Jr. tag in, previewing tomorrow’s match. SANADA gets the best of him with a dropkick, Desperado runs in and get tied up in a Paradise Lock. SANADA tries it on Sabre Jr., Sabre escapes and they trade near-falls from roll-ups. SANADA catches the PK and dropkicks Sabre Jr. right in the knee. BUSHI tags in and hits a missile dropkick. Everybody tees off on Sabre Jr., BUSHI with a lung blower for the 1…2…Suzuki-gun break it up. Sabre Jr. rolls through a backslide and makes BUSHI give up with the Clarky Cat.
Suzuki-gun defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon via pinfall (8:41)
- Fun match to continue the faction war. Not a lot more I can add to it, really. Lots of stuff happening and I didn’t hate any of it. (***)
CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, & Hirooki Goto) vs. Bullet Club (KENTA, “The Rogue General” Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens)
KENTA defends the NEVER Openweight Championship against hated rival Goto tomorrow night. Bullet Club are led out by two members of the Japanese rugby team, also I just remembered Rugby is a real sport people outside of the States like.
Yano wants to start…until he sees Fale on the other side of the ring. UH-OH. Yano charges, big tackle does nothing. Another big tackle, still does nothing. He tries a third and this time Fale drops him with ease. Fale whips Yano into the corner, Yano unties the corner pad (Sarah?). He ducks a clothesline and YOSHI-HASHI tags in. Owens tags in as well, HASHI wrecks him and Takahashi. HASHI ducks a clothesline and connects with a snap blockbuster on Owens. HASHI charges, Takahashi pulls him out of the ring. HASHI drops Takahashi, Owens belts him with a baseball slide. Fale drops both Ishii and Goto with a double shoulderblock. Takahashi with a snapmare on HASHI followed by a basement dropkick for a two-count, Fale tags in and almost puts HASHI through the mat with a slam. Fale and Owens stand on HASHI’s back, saluting the crowd. Takahashi with a back suplex, Owens with a shining wizard, and Takahashi covers for the 1…2…HASHI kicks out. Ishii drops Owens off the apron and suplexes Takahashi. Fale runs in, Ishii tries to suplex him but gets slammed instead. Yano slaps the back of Fale’s head and tries to low-bridge but gets kicked instead. HASHI with a suplex into a neckbreaker, Goto and KENTA tag in to preview tomorrow night. Goto with a DEVASTATING clothesline on KENTA followed by a corner clothesline and running bulldog for the 1…2…not yet. KENTA escapes the fireman’s carry, Goto does the same, KENTA connects with a DDT. Takahashi tags in and belts Goto with a big boot. Fale whips Owens into Goto in the corner, then Fale splashes him for extra oomph, Takahashi with a fisherman buster for the 1…2…Goto kicks out. Goto sends Takahashi into a kick from HASHI. Yano takes Owens down, Fale puts Yano down, Ishii belts Fale with a big ol’ strike and SUPLEXES THE ROGUE GENERAL. Goto sends KENTA into Takahashi, spinning clothesline to the former and Ushigoroshi to the latter. Goto follows up with the GTR for the 1…2…3.
CHAOS defeated Bullet Club via pinfall (8:17)
- I don’t watch enough NJPW to be sick of Yano, so I enjoyed his antics. I appreciate NJPW doing mini-previews of their Night 2 matches with these multi-man contests, I liked this one more than the one before it. Both teams had some good tandem offense. (***)
Goto and KENTA stare one another down. They are going to kill each other tomorrow, I can’t wait.
The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa) [w/ Jado] [c] vs. FinJuice (Juice Robinson & David Finlay) for the IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Robinson is challenging for the United States Championship tomorrow night so he could end the weekend with two belts. Juicey Two Belts. FinJuice come out with their World Tag League trophies, the tournament that granted them this title opportunity. Feed is muted during GoD’s entrance, I wonder what their entrance theme is.
FinJuice attacks GoD on the ramp, Robinson gets bounced off from a backdrop by Loa. DAMN. Tiger Hattori, who is also retiring after the weekend, calls for the bell and Loa rolls Robinson in. GoD belt Robinson with a double dropkick for the 1…2…kickout. Tonga splashes Robinson in the corner, Loa picks him up for a suplex but Robinson escapes and connects with a reverse DDT. Finlay tags in and belts Loa with a series of forearms, Finlay ducks a clothesline and connects with a back elbow. Finlay with a flying European uppercut from the middle rope, Tonga attacks from behind and drops Robinson off the apron. Finlay elevates Tonga out to the floor and dodges a corner splash from Loa. Finlay backflips out of a suplex, belts Tonga with a right hand, Loa pulls the leg and Finlay goes crashing taped-up shoulder-first off the top turnbuckle. GoD continue beating Finlay down, Tonga with a snap suplex and float-over lateral press for the 1…2…not yet. Slam from Tonga, slingshot sentons from both GoD members. Finlay chops Loa, Loa drops him with a rabbit punch to the face. Finlay drops Loa with a spear using his injured shoulder like a crazy person. Robinson gets the tag and belts Loa with a pair of elbows followed by a sit-down clothesline. SPINEBUSTER PARTY. Corner clotheslines and cannonballs for GoD. Loa blocks a left hand and connects with an enzuigiri followed by a release German suplex. Tonga tags in but misses a splash, Robinson with leg lariats for both men and he drops to his knees.
Finlay tags in, slingshot splash to Loa, back in the ring FinJuice with a Russian Legsweep/dropkick combo for just a one-count. Double flapjack from the challengers, Loa sends Robinson flying off the buckles and hits a sit-out power bomb, Tonga follows up with a Superfly Splash for the 1…2…Robinson makes the save. Finlay counters a Magic Killer with a suplex to Tonga. GoD with an inverted 3D (they called it something else but I didn’t catch it) for the 1…2…Finlay bridges up. GoD with the Magic Killer for the 1…2…Robinson breaks it up again and he pays by eating a Magic Killer as well. Tonga splashes Finlay and suplexes Finlay into Loa’s arms but Finlay counters the super bomb with a hurricanrana. Tonga kicks out of O’Connor Roll, sending Finlay into Jado’s kendo stick and Tonga rolls him up for the 1…2…FINLAY KICKS OUT. Finlay blocks the Gun Stun, Finlay hits him with a stunner and covers for the 1…2…Loa sends Robinson into them to prevent the pin. Smart. Robinson escapes Loa’s arms and goes for Pulp Friction, Loa pushes him off and Robinson belts Jado with a right hand. Robinson with a left hook and Pulp Friction to Loa. FinJuice measure Tonga, Finlay with the Acid Drop for the 1…2…3!
FinJuice defeated The Guerrillas of Destiny [c] via pinfall to win the IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (13:40)
- 7th year in a row of the Tag Team Championship changing hands at the Tokyo Dome. Another good match, great closing stretch. Can Juice add more gold tomorrow night? We will find out! (***1/4)
TEXAS DEATH MATCH
Lance Archer [c] vs. Jon Moxley for the IWGP UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
Winner of this one defends against Juice Robinson tomorrow night. Moxley was forced to vacate the title after missing a defense, and Archer won the subsequent match over Robinson to become the new champion. This one is going to be insane, LET’S GO.
Mox throws a whole lot of chairs into the ring during his entrance. Looks like he’s sticking with the zipper jeans look from AEW. Archer comes out in a spike mohawk helmet with trash can lids. Oh boy this is a LOOK. Archer beats up some of the young lions at ringside because why not!
Mox launches himself at Archer at the bell, Archer responds with a crossbody and a right hook. Mox sends Archer to the floor and follows up with a tope suicida. Mox sends Archer into the first barricade layer, whipping him into both barriers. Mox rolls Archer back in and pulls out a kendo stick. Archer throws a chair at Mox’s face and belts him with both another chair and a trash can lid. Archer beats the hell out of Mox with the kendo stick, telling him to give up. Archer locks knuckles and tries to rope walk but loses his footing, Mox makes him pay with multiple kendo stick shots that BREAKS THE SH*T out of that weapon. Mox grabs a trash can lid, Archer goozles him but Mox fights out. Archer charges, Mox tees off with the lid and sets up two chairs with the lid in the center. Mox suplexes him into lid and follows up with a running knee to the head. Archer stops the count by rolling to the ring and catches a flying Mox with a chokeslam to the apron. Archer grabs a young lion and chokeslams him right into Mox! EVERYBODY DIES. A bunch of young lions materialize around Mox and Archer flattens them all with a splash. Mox beats the count at 8 and heads back into the ring…so Archer can belt him with another chair shot. Archer sets up four chairs, Mox tries to send him into them with a German, Archer escapes. Mox catches a charging Archer with a kick, Archer belts him with a right hand and puts him through the chairs with BLACKOUT. 1…2…3….4….5…6…7…8…9…MOX IS UP and Archer grabs the EBD Claw, slamming Mox’s head into a chair. Mox grabs a Cross Armbreaker out of nowhere, apparently submissions are a thing in Death matches?!?
Archer counters with a goozle into a suplex (overhead goozleplex?). Archer charges, Mox with a lariat and a double arm DDT counter to a chokeslam. 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…Archer gets to his feet. Archer blocks the DDT and hits the Derailer (PERIOD) followed by a chokeslam right on a steel chair. 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…Mox gets up in the nick of time, flips Archer off, and Archer drops him with a big boot. Archer pulls out a PLASTIC BAG and starts SUFFOCATING Moxley. What the F*CK. EBD Claw with the bag. Mox goes limp, but gets his shoulder up before the ref calls for the bell. Archer sets up two skinny tables at ringside, then USES HIS SPIKED HELMET TO DIG INTO HIS SKULL. Mox escapes a Blackout attempt and charges at Archer, Archer tries a chokeslam but Mox breaks it and WE’VE GOT A MOTHERF*CKING DEATH RIDER THROUGH BOTH TABLES. 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…Mox to his feet…9…10!
Jon Moxley defeated Lance Archer [c] to win the IWGP United States Championship (14:28)
- These two beat the sh*t out of each other and I dug every minute of it. Not a lot of “crazy” spots save for the end but everything had real impact and looked real painful. Moxley picks up the U.S. Title for a second time, hopefully that means he can actually defend it on U.S. soil. Another sign of an AEW-NJPW alliance? (****)
Moxley grabs a mic and says he came to Tokyo to either leave with nothing or leave with everything. Mox says he and Juice Robinson settle the score once and for all.
-FEUD RECAP: Ospreay vs. Takahashi.
Will Ospreay [c] vs. “Time Bomb” Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Hiromu defeated Ospreay for the Junior Heavyweight Championship but suffered a broken neck and missed a lot of time, making this both his return singles match and his chance to regain the title he was never beaten for. Togi Makabe has joined the Japanese commentary team it looks like.
Ospreay with a waistlock takedown and takes a ride while hanging onto a headlock, and slapping the back of his head in a sign of arrogance. Both men collide and trade forearms, Hiromu with a whip but Ospreay reverses, both men side steps and block kicks, standing switches. Hiromu with a forearm, Ospreay with a chop, Hiromu with a rana and the champ bails to the apron. Hiromu attempts the sunset bomb, Ospreay blocks it and tries a rana but Hiromu counters with an apron bomb. Hiromu chops Ospreay, sending him to his knees. Ospreay responds with forearms, Hiromu rakes the eyes. Hiromu escapes a suplex attempt and applies a poison rana headscissors over the top rope. Hiromu goes for a shoulderblock, Ospreay side steps and hits a double stomp to the back followed by a spike DDT (the same move that broke his neck) for the 1…2…Hiromu kicks out. Hiromu rolls to the floor, Ospreay sends him into the guardrail then uses it to BEND THE NECK. Yikes. Hiromu with chops, Ospreay with a neckbreaker on the floor. Back in the ring Ospreay shivers the spine with a kick and applies some sort of MMA submission to put pressure on Hiromu’s neck, but the challenger forces a rope break. Hiromu with chops, Ospreay with a spin kick and wheelbarrow which Hiromu counters into a flatliner. Hiromu with a corner clothesline, snapmare, basement dropkick, and falcon arrow for the 1…2…Ospreay kicks out.
Ospreay dodges a clothesline and comes back with a back-handspring kick, sending Hiromu to the floor. Ospreay goes for a back-handspring moonsault but Hiromu dodges. Ospreay lands on his feet off a German suplex. He charges, Hiromu with a belly to belly but Ospreay LANDS ON HIS FEET IN THE RING AND IMMEDIATELY HITS A SASUKE SPECIAL. Holy f*ck what did I just see? Back in the ring Hiromu sends Ospreay flying with a dropkick then hits a corner clothesline. He goes for another, Ospreay with a kick to the back of the head and a top rope 619 that sends him to the apron. Ospreay measures Hiromu and hits a DOUBLE STOMP ON THE APRON, LEAPING OVER THE RING POST. Ospreay with a dropkick to the back of the head for the 1…2…Hiromu barely gets his shoulder up. Ospreay goes for the Hidden Blade but Hiromu collapses and he stops short. Kawada kicks to the bridge of the nose and a hard kick to the ribs. Ospreay pulls Hiromu in on the buckle and connects with a kick to the face, electric chair position as Ospreay CLIMBS THE MIDDLE BUCKLE. Hiromu hops off and belts Ospreay with a chop. Ospreay counters Hiromu’s flying roll-up attempt, puts him back on his shoulders, but Hiromu counters back into the avalanche victory roll for the 1…2…Ospreay kicks out. Hiromu follows up with the Dynamite Plunger for the 1…2…Ospreay kicks out again. Ospreay kicks off Hiromu and hits an enzuigiri outta nowhere followed by a Robinson Special. Hiromu catches the OsCutter, Ospreay slides through with the wrist and hits Made in Japan for the 1…2…Hiromu kicks out, Ospreay to the top for a SHOOTING STAR TO THE BACK for the 1…2…HIROMU KICKS OOOOUT. OsCutter for the 1…2…HIROMU WITH THE SHOULDER UP. Hook kick from Ospreay, Hiromu ducks the Hidden Blade and hits a massive sit-out powerbomb but both men are out of it so no pinfall is made.
Ospreay and Hiromu break the count and get to their knees to trade TOUGH GUY FOREARMS. They get to their feet, still being tough guys with tough forearms as the crowd grunt along. Hiromu with rapid forearms, Ospreay with a high kick and a back handspring that Hiromu counters with a release German. Lariat, Ospreay rolls through, Hiromu with a Canadian Destroyer for the 1…2…Ospreay kicks out! Ospreay blocks the Time Bomb, Hiromu with two superkicks that bring the champ to his knees. Hiromu picks Ospreay up, Ospreay escapes and hits a hook kick, Hiromu escapes the Storm Breaker but runs into the standing Spanish fly for the 1…2…HIROMU KICKS OUT AGAIN. Ospreay measures Hiromu and f*cking MURDERS THE MAN with a Hidden Blade. Jesus Christ. Ospreay picks a limp Hiromu up, Hiromu counters with a sunset bomb for the 1…2…Ospreay kicks out! Hiromu turns Ospreay inside out with a lariat and hits the Time Bomb for the 1…2…OSPREAY KICKS OUT WHAT THE F*CK. Hiromu charges and connects with a running forearm followed by a cradle slam/neckbreaker thing (that’s the technical term) for the 1…2…3!
Hiromu Takahashi defeated Will Ospreay [c] via pinfall to win the IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (24:32)
- Holy f*cking sh*t. Tremendous. TREMENDOUS. Hiromu regains the championship he never lost, fighting through some of Ospreay’s best stuff to emerge victorious and apparently with a new finisher to boot. Absolutely unreal, I don’t how Will Ospreay does half the sh*t he does. Hiromu seems like a big deal and getting the title back cements that. I love this match. Holy f*ck did I love this match. What a thing. (****1/2)
-FEUD RECAP: White vs. Naito. White wants to win so he can become a double champion and shove it in the fans’ faces.
“Switchblade” Jay White [c] [w/ Gedo] vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Winner of this one goes on to face the IWGP Heavyweight Champion tomorrow night in a double title match. Naito has never beaten White, in an arena where’s found little luck, so he’s coming into this one with a big ol’ chip on his shoulder. White has had a hell of a 2019, winning the Heavyweight and IC Championships and beating all of the big stars put in his way.
White stalls to start much to the crowd’s chagrin. Naito grabs Gedo by his beard and tells White to come get him. Both men charge the ring, Naito connects with a pair of armdrag and a one-legged dropkick, White rolls out again while Naito goes full Tranquilo. Naito holds the ropes open, smile on his face, and White re-enters. White tries a cheap shot; Naito fights him off and delivers a hanging neckbreaker on the floor. Naito brings White back in and delivers a forearm blow, then plays some mind games with some boot swipes. White reverses a whip, Naito catches him charging with a back elbow but Gedo distracts him allowing the Switchblade to attack from behind. Naito elevated to the apron, Gedo grabs the leg and White drops him throat-first across the top rope. White distracts the ref, Gedo cracks Naito’s left knee with a chair and the Switchblade focuses on the surgically repaired limb, wrapping it around the guardrail. Back in the ring White connects with a running European uppercut followed by a snap Saito suplex, Naito rolls to the floor, White teases taking flight but decides to Too Sweet/Tranquilo instead to the boos of the crowd. Ha! White rolls Naito in, Red Shoes won’t count because he’s too close to the ropes. White ties up the legs and cinches in a Muta Lock, pulling at Naito’s face to make him “smile” for the camera, until a rope break.
Naito slaps White, White responds with a pair of thunderous chops. Naito catches a charging White with a pair of kicks and follows up with a hurricanrana from the middle rope, but clutches his hurt knee instead of going for the pin. Back elbow, sliding dropkick to the back of the head, neckbreaker for the 1…2…White kicks out. Naito fakes White out and connects with a corner dropkick, leg sweep, and fake-out slingshot dropkick. Nice. Naito uses his legs to trap White in a full nelson, Switchblade struggles mightily and finally makes it to the ropes. Naito catches a kick; White uses his speed to drive his head into the canvas with a DDT. White follows up with a DDT DVD for the 1…2…Naito kicks out. White goes back to the knee; Naito kicks him off and gets stomped repeatedly for his troubles. Naito fights out of a urinage, White pulls him down by the hair, Naito escapes a vertical suplex but lands awkwardly on his knee and stumbles. White reverses a whip, Naito lunges but Switchblade dodges and chops him. Naito lunges and beats White down with elbows, hanging onto the wrist. White whips him off, Naito responds with a flying forearm, White with a deadlift release German suplex and both men are spent. White seats Naito on the top and attempts a top rope superplex, Naito fights him off and returns to the canvas. Naito with a hanging backbreaker and this time White is seated on the top. White slides under him and drops the challenger face-first across the top and once again he lands awkwardly on his knee. White goes back to the limb and wrenches it with a Dragon Screw legwhip across the middle rope.
White whips Naito, who crumples to the mat due to his hurt knee. Gedo yells at Red Shoes to end the match. Naito belts White with forearms, White kicks the knee and makes him run and crumple again. Naito tries a tornado DDT but misses the rope, landing on the knee again, White with a urinage for the 1…2…Naito kicks out. White ducks a forearm, and connects with a snap Saito into the apron to the floor. OH DAMN. White rolls Naito in, Naito escapes the Kiwi Crusher with a knee, White with strikes another Crusher attempt, Naito finds out but lands HARD on his knee and this time White hits a brainbuster followed by the Kiwi Crusher for the 1…2…Naito kicks out! White pulls Naito into the middle, Naito fights out of a chinlock and White chop blocks the knee. Inverted Dragon Screw, inverted figure four, White too sweets the camera out of confidence. Naito almost passes out, White keeps wrenching back, Naito inches closer and closer to the rope while fighting himself and finally forces the break. The damage appears to be done. White pulls Naito’s kneepad down and delivers a series of punches right to the bone. Naito spits in White’s face and kicks him away, following up with a rolling kick. Both men duck clothesline attempts and jockey for position, Naito with a pop-up spinebuster and both men are dazed.
White with a series of elbows to the side of the head, collapsing Naito. Naito with a series of forearms and elbows, Gedo enters the ring to distract Red Shoes, Naito spits on him. Naito hits White with an enzuigiri and mostly gets the tornado DDT, almost slipping off the ropes once again. Naito with a pumphandle slam for the 1…2…White barely kicks out but also Red Shoes appeared to be stutter counting which was…weird. That happened in the last match too. White sits down to avoid a move, Naito belts him with a dropkick, White tosses Naito right into Red Shoes. Gedo tries to use a chair, Naito kicks him, White with a low blow. Naito connects with a Dragon Suplex on White and a kick to the family jewels to Gedo, WHITE F*CKING THROWS A CHAIR RIGHT AT NAITO’S HEAD and hits a suplex. Jesus. White calls for Red Shoes and goes for the Blade Runner, Naito weakly tries to fight out. White spits in his face and hits a sleeper suplex instead. Naito pops right back up and hits DESTINOOOO but is too out of it to make the count. Naito counters a Blade Runner and belts White with a palm strike, White with a fireman’s carry, Naito counters with a poison rana and hits DESTINOOOOO for the 1…2…WHITE KICKS OUT! Naito goes for it again, White counters and goes for the Blade Runner, Naito with a brainbuster and hits DESTINOOO again for the 1…2…3!
Tetsuya Naito defeated Jay White [c] via pinfall to win the IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (33:52)
- I give pro wrestling matches a ton of sh*t when they go past 25 minutes, but this one had me captivated the whole way so maybe I’m just an idiot. A great match that built and built to a great closing stretch. Naito’s knee getting injured is going to be an interesting factor leading into his Heavyweight Title match tomorrow; can he overcome the odds? We will find out. Jay White was great here as well, the cocky heel riding off his 2019 success but also turned it on when he needed to. It just wasn’t enough. Naito moves onto tomorrow’s main event and could end the weekend as a double champion. (****1/2)
Red Shoes gives Naito the IC Championship, Naito spits in his face and he sells it like a bullet. Amazing.
-VIDEO RECAP: Kota Ibushi wins the G1 Climax, earning the title shot against Okada.
-OKADA’S ENTRANCE IS SO GOOD. I’ll try to find a video of it and put it into the recap, ain’t no way I’m going to describe it well. Or I’ll forget and you’ll only see this. Whatever.
“The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. Kota Ibushi for IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Okada removes his glow in the dark entrance gear and reveals his new SHORT PANTS…but the camera doesn’t catch it. Booooo the cameraman, boo. One of the Rugby players is on his phone instead of paying attention to the match, but given that we’re in hour 500 of this show I don’t overly blame him.
Okada grabs a waistlock to start, Ibushi counters into a wristlock; Okada rolls through and counters into one of his own. Ibushi rolls through and takes Okada to the mat, applying a leglock, Okada counters into a bodyscissors. Reversals and chain wrestling continue, Ibushi grabs a side headlock, Okada with a headscissors, Ibushi kicks out, and they reset. Oh man we’re in for a long one aren’t we? Ibushi is apparently a self-trained pro wrestler which is apparently a thing I could have done this whole time?!? Damn, missed my window. Okada grabs a side headlock, screaming as he wrenches it in. Back to a vertical base, Ibushi whips him off and gets dropped with a shoulderblock but he nips right back up! They tee off on each other with forearms, Ibushi ducks an early Rainmaker and hits a combo of strikes into a chest kick and standing moonsault for the first two-count of the match. Ibushi slows it back down with a chinlock, Okada makes it to the ropes and gets stomped in the spine. Okada with a series of forearms, Ibushi brushes them off and kicks the f*cker flush in the chest. GODDAMN. Okada ducks a series of clotheslines and drops Ibushi with a back elbow. Okada with a corner elbow and a DDT for the 1…2…Ibushi kicks out and rolls to the floor. Commentary talk about the perils of wrestling in new gear, which is something no one ever considers so I appreciate that added wrinkle. Okada drapes Ibushi over the guardrail and plants him with a DDT, then takes a walk around the ring as Red Shoes checks on the challenger.
Okada rolls Ibushi in and covers but only gets a one-count. Maybe don’t take a slow victory lap next time, dude. Ibushi belts Okada with forearms as the champ eggs him on. One forearm dazes Okada, Okada comes back with a kick and DDT. Chinlock time. Okada with a kick, Ibushi responds with a dropkick. Okada reverses a whip, Ibushi connects with a flying mid-kick. Ibushi dodges Okada in the corner, connects with a powerslam, and follows up with a second rope moonsault for the 1…2…Okada kicks out. Okada catches Ibushi, seats him on the top buckle, and dropkicks him to the floor. Okada whips Ibushi into the barricade, and follows him in with a kick that sends him tumbling into the first layer of ringside. Crowd gets clapping, Okada charges and hits a crossbody over the guardrail. Okada rolls Ibushi back in, favoring his ribs, and applies Red Ink. Ibushi gets the break, Okada slams him to the mat and connects with a pointed AF elbowdrop from the top turnbuckle. RAINMAKER POSE, CAMERA ZOOM OUT. Always great. Ibushi ducks the Rainmaker and tries a Pele Kick but LANDS ON HIS F*CKING HEAD. Okada tries a Tombstone, Ibushi counters into a Bastard Driver but can’t follow it up with a pin because the dude is dazed.
Ibushi double stomps the sh*t out of Okada and the champ rolls to the floor. Ibushi takes flight with a Golden Triangle moonsault, seemingly hurting himself as much as his opponent. Ibushi rolls Okada in and connects with a missile dropkick, Okada catches him in the corner but gets countered and Ibushi damn near puts him through the mat with a Last Ride for the 1…2…Okada kicks out. Ibushi goes for a Boomayae, Okada counters with a dropkick and follows up with the Tombstone. Ibushi grabs the ropes to prevent a Rainmaker, Okada belts him in the back with forearms to try and break his grip. Okada is finally successful and drops Ibushi with a European uppercut. Okada hits more European uppercuts but this time Ibushi absorbs them with a blank look in his eye. Ibushi belts Okada with a slap to the chest, Okada with a shotgun dropkick but IBUSHI STANDS RIGHT BACK UP. Quick kicks, palm strikes, and HEAVY CLOSED FISTS. Jesus. Okada fights off the deadlift German and teases an apron Tombstone but Ibushi reverses. Okada escapes his clutches, connects with a kick, AND A FULL ASS F*CKING TOMBSTONE ON THE APRON WHAT THE F*CK IBUSHI STOP TRYING TO DIE.
Ibushi beats the count JUST in time, Okada immediately picks him up and hits a neckbreaker for the 1…2…Ibushi kicks out. Okada with a pointed Heavy Rain for the 1…2…Ibushi kicks out again. Okada folds Ibushi up with a German suplex and hangs onto the wrist. Ibushi elbows out and drops Okada with a rolling lariat. Ibushi kicks Okada to the apron and hits the middle rope deadlift German suplex for the 1…2…Okada kicks out! Okada escapes a lawn dart counter with a spinning Tombstone and goes for the Rainmaker but IBUSHI HITS ONE OF HIS OWN! Boomayae Knee for the 1…OKADA KICKS OUT, Ibushi hits another from the back for the 1…2…Okada kicks out again! Ibushi drops Okada to his knees with a kick and hits the Kamagoye for the 1…2…OKADA KICKS OUT AND EVERYONE IS SHOCKED. Ibushi goes for another, Okada counters with a dropkick and both are down once again.
They get to their knees and trade forearms, each with more weight than the last. Vertical base, the forearms get quicker and more furious. Ibushi with a series of rapid-fire strikes and a kick right to the f*cking head. Ibushi kicks Okada full force to the chest and collapses in exhaustion. Ibushi and Okada battle on the top rope, Okada fights him off with forearms and goes flying but Ibushi counters whatever he was trying to do with a sit-out powerbomb and the 1…2…OKADA KICKS OUT. Ibushi takes flight but MISSES the Phoenix Splash and Okada connects with a spinning Rainmaker followed by another RAINMAAAAAAAAKER for the 1…2…IBUSHI KICKS OUT. Okada grabs the wrist, hits a third Rainmaker followed by a fourth. Okada poses and picks Ibushi up for another, Ibushi ducks and kicks Okada in the head followed by a V-Trigger. Okada counters a Kamagoye with a sit-out Tombstone and ANOTHER RAAAAAINMAAAAAKER for the 1…2…3!
Kazuchika Okada [c] defeated Kota Ibushi via pinfall to retain the IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (39:16)
- What a f*cking match. Almost perfect, really. A real knockdown and drag-out contest, starting slow as they jockeyed for position and ramping up at just the right moments with tremendous moves and spots from both guys leading into an amazing closing stretch. Ibushi might have lost but holy f*ck did he steal the show for the most part. How is Okada/Naito going to top this tomorrow night? I can’t wait to find out. (****3/4)
Okada celebrates and even throws some applause Ibushi’s way, who wallows in disappointment while being checked on by officials. Tetsuya Naito makes his way to ringside, dragging the Intercontinental Championship along with him. Naito enters the ring, puts the IC Championship between them, and grabs a mic. (Charlton with the translation) Naito says he’s back in the same spot as two years ago and his goal is to become double champion by beating Okada tomorrow. Okada and Naito stare one another down and pose with their belts, crowd split between the two. Naito leaves the ring, still favoring his left knee, leaving Okada in the ring to close out the show. (Charlton translates again) Okada thanks Ibushi for the fight of his life. Okada doesn’t care if Naito wants to make history, he is the strongest IWGP Heavyweight Champion of all-time. Okada hypes tomorrow’s show and says that he will make it rain once again.
FINAL THOUGHTS: NJPW kicks off Wrestle Kingdom 14 weekend with a TREMENDOUS show. The entire show was great but those final four matches HOLY SH*T. An absolute clinic of an event, I can’t recommend it enough.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Okada vs. Ibushi
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Sasuke and Tiger Mask parade Liger around the ring on their shoulders