Wrestling with fans is back, BAY-BEE! You read right; Osaka-Jo Hall had people in attendance this morning. It wasn’t packed because of social distancing, but it still managed to look full to my sleep-encrusted eyes at 4 a.m. Oh, and there was a huge swerve, but I’ll get to that soon enough.
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura – This bout set the stage for the show. The match started with polite applause from the audience and strikes from Honma and Tsuji. There was a good back-and-forth throughout; Uemura got tossed into the baricade, there were some stiff AF chops and a bridging German from Makabe got the win for GBH. Overall, it was an enjoyable match and the Young Lions looked great; I expect to see some big things from them in a couple of years. – 3/5
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Gabriel Kidd & Hirooki Goto – Kidd has improved a lot since joining NJPW and has come a long way from that 19-year-old who was getting hammered online by that small niche of fans that were watching WCPW/Defiant. There’s not really much to say about this match beyond Kidd taking the bulk of the punishment; it was just okay. – 2.5/5
Master Wato vs. DOUKI – This one was a take-it-or-leave-it kinda match; it was just there. Wato wins in his debut (since coming back from excursion), but aside from the opening and closing sequence, this match was all DOUKI. I’m not sold on Wato just yet; something about him just isn’t clicking for me. Overall, this match gets a big, fat “meh” from me. – 2/5
Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi vs. BUSHI & SANADA – You know who this golf-clapping audience seemed excited to see after the cleaning intermission? LIJ. One of the most energetic rounds of applause came when SANADA put Ishimori in the Paradise Lock. Ishimori trolled the crowd and tried to make them boo – he managed to get one when a fan slipped up when he tried to get BUSHI out of his mask. Bullet Club takes the win with a Pimp Juice from Yujiro. Fun match, but nothing spectacular. – 3/5
Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Yuji Nagata, Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi – Murder Grandpa has a fever, so Kanemaru (his second appearance after attacking Wato earlier in the show) replaced him for this match. For the first time in probably ever, Suzuki-gun didn’t start the match by jumping their opponents; it was weird. Taichi and Ace started off the match, but Suzuki-gun is gonna Suzuki-gun and ZSJ attacked from behind. Tanahashi’s knee took some brutal punishment as he got worked over by the whole faction—that’s been the story of all his matches since the hiatus ended. I was starting to go back to sleep, but this one perked me back up. – 3.5/5
Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SHO – You know who stood out in this match? SHO and Takagi. Any time the two of them were in the ring together, it was interesting. Whether it was SHO’s fruitless attempts to take Takagi down at the start of the match or them trading strikes (to the delight of the crowd, who clapped throughout the sequence), it was memorable. The rest of the match, not so much. It was one of those solid, but you don’t really care afterward matches. – 3/5
EVIL vs. Kazuchika Okada – The main event was the best match of the night, as it should be. It started off slowly, but business picked up quickly as EVIL hit Darkness Falls early on for a two-count and went for Everything is Evil right after. I’m not gonna recap this whole match because it absolutely deserves a watch, but the important thing is that your 2020 New Japan Cup winner is EVIL. – 4.25/5
Afterwards, Naito came out to congratulate his stablemate and said that he was looking forward to their match tomorrow. Naito raised his fist…only to get met with a Too Sweet and an attack from EVIL because Bullet Club is…EVIL. So many questions: How long have they been planning this? Who, if anyone, will replace EVIL in LIJ? What happens to the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Championships? What will the EVIL Club shirt look like?
Overall, it was a decent enough show and makes for some interesting possibilities for Dominion tomorrow. 3.25/5 Bibles