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- This is the last of New Japan's major shows heading into the Tokyo Dome on January 4th. The match to watch tonight is of course Shinsuke Nakamura defending the I.C. title against "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson, plus Tomohiro Ishii defends the NEVER Openweight title against Honma in a rematch from their incredible match-of-the-year candidate bout back in February.
David Finlay, Jay White, Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Máscara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tiger Mask
Pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the big multi-man openers. Every big spot leads to the apron clearing; Liger with the surfboard stretch, Tiger Mask with the Tiger Driver, etc. Everything looked good but I could have done with more from...pretty much everyone. I bet Taguchi feels really silly out there without a mask tonight. Tiger got the win on Finlay with a double-arm superplex.
Winners: Jushin Thunder Liger, Máscara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tiger Mask
- Liger is on the mic and is issuing a challenge to Tiger Mask for the NWA title. Looks like Tiger is on board. You can probably add that to the Wrestle Kingdom card.
Captain New Japan, Juice Robinson and Togi Makabe vs. Bullet Club (Cody Hall, Doc Gallows and Tama Tonga)
Lots of action on the floor right from the start. Gallows chokes out Makabe with his thick chain. Juice is the only one in the ring for the first several minutes and sells to everyone. Eventually he hits a big crossbody from the ropes and makes the hot tag to Makabe, who cleans house and does the ole "you can't knock me over" big man spots with Gallows. Captain is totally useless, coming in whenever the babyfaces have momentum and missing everything. Juice with a big dive over the ropes; he may have landed hard here. Tonga pins Captain with a jumping double-arm DDT.
Winners: Cody Hall, Doc Gallows and Tama Tonga
- Makabe was pissed off after the match, and obviously wanted a piece of Gallows. I want to say their G1 match this year was the only time they've locked up in singles; could be another Wrestle Kingdom match in the making there. Juice looked to be hurt pretty bad on his way back, probably after that big dive over the ropes.
Evil Watanabe vs. Hirooki Goto
Context here is that Watanabe was off in the US with Ring of Honor the last 16 months or so, and has been repackaged with a grim reaper type gimmick, given the name "Evil" by Naito.
Evil attacks before the bell and takes it to the floor, attacking with a chair and almost settles for an early count-out win. These two beat the hell out of each other with some very stiff lariats, but they never really got much going. It was pretty much all Watanabe after that opening attack.
Goto puts on a shoulder lock, but Naito casually strolls out from the back to some crazy heat. The heels beat down Goto, the ref tries to give him a chance to fight back, but eventually calls for the rare DQ in favor of Goto.
Winner: Hirooki Goto
- White, Sho Tanaka and Komatsu all ran out and got beaten down as well. Shibata has had enough, and runs down to the make the save to a big pop, coming to the aid of Goto and clearing the ring. Naito gathers Watanabe and the head to the back, taking out the camera man on the ramp just for good measure. Crowd was HOT for all the post-match stuff.
We've seen these three teams lock-up about a hundred times, and this was just what you'd expect adding Omega and Owens into the mix. Everyone had a chance to hit all their big spots, and Omega added more of a Bullet Club feel to the match with all their shenanigans. Kushida was over huge as they used him for all the hot tag spots, and he eventually tapped out Owens to win it for his team. Really good match, but I could have seen another 10 minutes and really been satisfied, as all eight really work well together. I'm hoping that means they're giving more time to the tag team tournament finals.
One weird thing, O'Reilly had Omega in the armbar at the end when Owens tapped, and I just thought it would have meant more for Kushida to actually beat the champion going into Omega vs. Kushida III at Wrestle Kingdom. But it's a small gripe.
Winners: Alex Shelley, Kushida, Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly
Matt Sydal and Ricochet vs. Roppongi Vice (Baretta and Rocky Romero)
This was so well-paced, starting with great wrestling more focused on the singles exchanges, but built into some incredible tag moves and combinations later on. This turned into what may end up being the best tag team match of the entire year.
SO MANY convincing nearfalls at the end. So many big spots I would have to watch this match in slow motion at least three times just to write them all done. None of them stopped moving from opening bell to closing bell. Perhaps the most insane spot was a springboard shooting star press from Ricochet to the floor where he must have had 10 feet of air coming down. Ricochet and Sydal picked up the win with double shooting stars to win the tournament. Incredible.
Winners: Matt Sydal and Ricochet
- Sydal gets on the mic and says they are not just a one-off team and they are the newest, most dangerous team in New Japan. Ricochet says he wants a title match. Rocky takes the mic and reminds them that they beat the champs recently and they deserve the shot. Out come the Young Bucks to throw their hats into the ring. Finally, reDragon is out with the titles to put everyone on notice; any time, any place.
- Intermission time.
Bullet Club (A.J. Styles and Bad Luck Fale) vs. Chaos (Toru Yano and Yoshi-Hashi)
The whole match was built around Yano comedy, which whether you enjoy that kind of thing or not, the crowd was REALLY into. He went after Fale's ears after Yoshi-Hashi did most of the work, and ended up dumping the big guy to the floor where they spent the rest of the match. Styles with a Pele kick, Bloody Sunday and the Styles Clash on Yoshi-Hashi for the finish, as Fale held back Yano on the floor.
Winners: AJ Styles and Bad Luck Fale
- We get a video package for the Ishii/Honma title fight. If you haven't seen their match from February yet, it went down as a 5-star instant classic and a MOTY candidate in a year where we have half a dozen New Japan matches on that list.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Tomoaki Honma
What a war. They started predictably with Honma building up momentum, then missing a headbutt, building up momentum, missing the heatbutt, etc. He hit the headbutt on the third attempt and the tone of the match changed considerably, losing that "friendly", competitive vibe as you realized these two were now going to beat the hell out of one another.
They pulled out everything. The match was largely Headbutt City, with Honma hitting possibly a dozen of them from all different positions - seated, diving, running, on the apron, and the biggest spot of the match, off the top rope and to the floor! Ishii even got in a few of his own, and at one point they were standing in the ring slamming their heads together, trying to get the other to fall.
Late into the match they started in with all the nearfalls. Ishii hit a big powerbomb and a seated lariat for two, Honma with three headbutts for two, etc, Ishii with a wicked spinning wheel kick and another seated lariat for two, etc. Honma tried for one final headbutt but got caught with a Superman punch, then a lariat, then a brainbuster for three. One of the best matches of 2015. The crowd was on fire, and desperately wanted Honma to win here, but just a huge amount of respect for both men.
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii
I missed the bulk of the action here due to technical difficulties. I came back just in time to see Okada connect with a flying elbow on Tanahashi, go for the Rainmaker, but have it broken up by the other two. Looked like Sakuraba had it with a front-mounted choke, but Shibata slammed him on the mat, Tanahashi dropped him with the High Fly Flo, Shibata hit him with a corner dropkick, and picked up the win with the GTS.
Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata
- After the match was when things really heated up. It was clear Tanahashi wanted some kind of post-match discussion, but Okada wanted nothing to do with it and started to leave. The challenger brought him back by saying something that popped the crowd, they traded words, and Okada kicked Tanahashi's #1 contender's briefcase leading to a brawl. It took a dozen guys from the back to split them up, and they did the pull-apart bit at least six different times. Neither wanted to leave without getting the last hit in. It looked like Okada was trying to spike Tanahashi on the floor, but they were pulled apart again and the challenger chased the champion to the back.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Karl Anderson
Another really good match, albeit with the predictable finish that will see Nakamura headed to Wrestle Kingdom as the champion. It started with some really excellent chain grappling, with both men having one another completely scouted. And...then it completely broke down.
The entire Bullet Club was ringside for the match. The Young Bucks got up on the apron to distract the referee, which allowed Gallows to throw Nakamura into the railing. This started about ten minutes of complete one-sided beat down, with the champion taking some huge bumps, including a Gun Stun over the top rope, powerbomb into the apron, kneebreaker, running neckbreaker, etc.
Eventually Shinsuke hit an enzuigiri to get back into the match, and from there we had them trading big spots for nearfalls all the way home. Nakamura hit a rolling elbow and his first Boma Ye shortly after for two, followed by a surprise Gun Stun from Anderson for two in the other direction. Anderson then hoisted him up and planted a Swivel Gun Stun from the second rope for another nearfall, and from there it just went into a sequence of moves that Nakamura kept kicking out of (including a piledriver) that got the challenger more and more upset. The finish came when Shinsuke countered another Gun Stun into a cross-armbreaker, then broke it to hit the Boma Ye for three.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
- As expected, AJ Styles got in the ring after the match and did a staredown with Nakamura. He took the I.C. title from the referee and held it for a minute before giving it to Shinsuke, but not before saying "I'm taking this from you". Styles left as the Bullet Club helped out Anderson, and Nakamura closed out the night by cutting a short promo and agreeing to the match. It will be Nakamura vs. Styles for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th.