NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2018 Review

 

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Results + Star Ratings:

  • Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Desperado defeat Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask via pinfall to retain the IWGP Jr Tag Titles @10:15 ***
  • Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe defeat Juice Robinson and Toa Henare via pinfall @10:21 ***1/4
  • Firing Squad defeat Bullet Club Elite via pinfall @12:06 ***1/2
  • Chaos (Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii, and Hirooki Goto) defeat Suzuki-Gun (Izuka, Minoru Suzuki, and Tai-Chi) via pinfall @12:09 ***1/4
  • Los Ignobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Bushi, and Sanda) defeat Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, and Roppongi 3K) via pinfall @9:30 ***1/4
  • Evil vs. Zack Sabre Jr goes to a No Contest @0:00 N/A
  • Kushida defeats Marty Scurrl via pinfall to win the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title @18:32 ****
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Jay White to retain the G1 Briefcase via pinfall @20:40 ****1/2
  • Kenny Omega defeats Cody and Kota Ibushi to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title via pinfall @34:13 ****1/2

 

1008_01jrtagKanemaru and Desperado (c) vs. Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask for the IWGP Jr Tag Titles:

  • Spear by Desperado hits Tiger Mask, near fall save by Liger. 
  • Swinging Dropkick by Suzuki Gun lays out Liger, isolating Tiger.
  • Tiger Driver by Tiger Mask to Desperado, very near fall.
  • Desperado goes for the mask and Tiger strikes him hard and hits a super Butterfly suplex, near fall save by Kanemaru. 
  • Cannonball off the apron by Liger wipes out Kanemaru. 
  • Tiger Mask ducks a shot with the title belt by Desperado, Tiger Suplex hits but no referee to count the pin. 
  • Pop-up low blow by Desperado to Tiger Mask, Pinche Loco hits to close the match

Winners: Desperado and Kanemaru Retain! Day Count: 214+ Days @10:15

Rating: ***, this was a routine Suzuki-Gun match with them cheating to secure the victory. Desperado and Kanemaru have been champions for way too long but these were not the challengers to dethrone them. It’s always great to see Liger in action and Tiger Mask is still very talented even with the age. 

Juice Robinson and Toa Henare vs. Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe:

  • Honma and Henare start the match.
  • Stiff chops by Honma in the corner to Henare. 
  • Long-holding Vertical suplex by Robinson to Honma, near fall. 
  • Suplex attempt battle into a vertical suplex by Honma opening the tag to Makabe.
  • Hot Tag by Togi Makabe.
  • Huge Lariat by Makabe to Robinson, near fall. 
  • Cannonball by Juice to Makabe in the corner followed up by the Full Nelson Bomb, near fall. 
  • Juice punches to Makabe, Makabe ducks it and hits a huge lariat flipping Juice. Makabe makes the tag to Honma. 
  • Hard chop by Juice to Honma, Stiff lariat by Honma, near fall save by Henare. 
  • Robinson slams Honma off the top rope and makes the tag to Henare. 
  • Huge lariat by Henare to Honma, very near fall. 
  • Running Shoulder Block by Honma takes down Henare.
  • Great rugby tackle by Henare on Makabe, near fall save by Honma.
  • Stiff lariat by Makabe knocks Henare down. 
  • Double Team Lariats by Honma and Makabe, then a headbutt/Gorilla Knee Drop combo puts Henare away. 

Winners: Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe @10:21

Rating: ***1/4, Juice Robinson is on a bit of a downward spiral and it continues here. Honma has been having to have a great moment to prove himself. This was a fun and hard-hitting tag match and every member of this match is talented and it delivered as an opening tag match. 

Bullet Club Elite (Young Bucks, Chase Owens, and Hangman Page) vs. Firing Squad (Taiji Ishimori, Bad Luck Fale, and The Guerillas):

  • Tonga Loa and Chase Owens start the match. 
  • Nick Jackson and Taiji Ishimori tag in, the pure athletes.
  • Great sequence from Taiji and Nick into the double dropkicks. 
  • Everyone strikes off in the middle of the ring. Elite dropkicks Firing Squad to ringside. 
  • Diving Senton by Nick wipes out Firing Squad ringside, Loa stops Matt’s dive and hits a powerslam ringside again targeting the bad back.
  • The Firing Squad isolates Matt’s back by removing the belt and tape and having Fale stand on his back.
  • Hot tag by Hangman Page, Dropsault on Toa and Ishimori.
  • Great Diving Moonsault to ringside by Hangman Page. 
  • Buckle Bomb by Page into the enzugiris by the Bucks to Ishimori followed by a Backbreaker by Owens, near fall. 
  • Buckshot Lariat by Page takes out Tama, German Suplex by Loa to Page. Superkick Party by The Bucks to Fale. Doublerana by Ishimori takes the Bucks ringside, Ishimori hits a twisting plancha.
  • Gun Stun reversed into a Roll up by Owens on Tama, near fall.
  • Pop-Up Gun Stun by G.O.D closes Chase Owens. 

Winners: Firing Squad @12:06

Rating: ***1/2, This was a good little tag match continuing the Bullet Club vs. Firing Squad feud. It could’ve been better if there were more spots but in the end, it was just an opening tag and the continuation of Matt Jackson’s back injury and Hangman Page looking awesome. 

Chaos (Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto, and Tomohiro Ishii) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Tai-Chi, and Izuka):

  • Shockingly, Suzuki Gun attack early leading to a brawl ringside.
  • Tandem sequences by Chaos take out Tai-Chi and Suzuki.
  • Armbar over the top rope by Suzuki to Goto. 
  • Suzuki attacks Ishii with a chair and Izuka attacks Goto with a chair. 
  • Near countout on Goto who just escaped being isolated by Suzuki Gun ringside. 
  • Izuka biting the head of Goto, Izuka is pure nonsense. Izuka bites Ospreay and Ishii as well. 
  • Stiff mid-kicks by Suzuki to Goto, Goto squares up and chops Suzuki’s chest. Brainbuster by Goto opens up tags.
  • Hot tag by Tomohiro Ishii. 
  • Strikefest from Ishii and Suzuki, Ishii wears Suzuki down and spits at him. Suzuki rises up and smiles and decks Ishii with an elbow. A series of hard elbows by Suzuki but Ishii squares up and attempts the brainbuster but it fails, Gotch Neutralizer by Suzuki fails, and a Flying Shoulder Tackle by Ishii puts both down. Awesome stand-off. 
  • Handspring Enzugiri by Ospreay on Tai-Chi, near fall. 
  • Izuka chokes Ospreay with a chain, lariat by Tai-Chi into a near fall. 
  • Izuka grabs his iron finger but Tiger Hattori gets in his way, with Tiger distracted Tai-Chi goes to hit Ospreay with the title but Ospreay hits a Spanish Fly.
  • Storm Breaker by Ospreay closes the match on Tai-Chi, huge win for Ospreay. Ospreay challenges Tai-Chi for a Never Openweight Title Match, yes, please. 

Winners: Chaos @12:09

Rating: ***1/4, The Izuka stuff almost ruined this entire match. He took so much out of a match with 4 really talented guys. The best thing about this match was the sequence of Goto and Ishii striking the crap out of each other and Ospreay’s first big heavyweight win. Ospreay looks to challenge for the Never Openweight Title next.

  • A great video package build suspense about the new Los Ignobernables member. 

Los Ignobernables de Japon (Bushi, Naito, Sanada, and Shingo Takagi) vs. Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, and Roppongi 3k):

  • After a long reveal, the new L.I.J member is revealed to be Shingo Takagi a former Dragon Gate star. 
  • Shingo Takagi and Yoh start the match.
  • The Halloween attire on Bushi is sick.
  • Paradise Lock by Sanda wraps Yano around the bottom rope. 
  • Paradise Lock by Sanada on Yoh, Sanada kicks Yoh into Yano to break the hold on both. 
  • Hot tag by Kazuchika Okada. 
  • Roll up/Dropkick combo by Naito and Bushi on Okada, near fall. 
  • Rainmaker attempt by Okada reversed into a Destino attempt by Naito, Naito hits flying forearm knocking down Okada. 
  • Widow’s Peak facebuster by Takagi on Sho, near fall.
  • Great suicide dive by Bushi.
  • Last Falconry by Takagi puts away Sho. 

Winners: Los Ignobernables de Japon

Rating: ***1/4, This was centered around Shingo Takagi and it was an awesome debut for him. It was a bit of a squash but Takagi looked awesome and his finisher the Last Falconry looked sick. I’m really excited to see how the future of L.I.J goes. 

1008_6Evil vs. Zack Sabre Jr:

  • A special “King of Darkness” entrance for Evil, one of the druids attacks him. The druid unmasks as Chris Jericho after a Codebreaker on Evil. 
  • ZSJ comes in and still tries to wrestle Evil but a no contest is called. Zack attacks the referee and Evil. ZSJ locks Evil in an armbar, Tetsuya Naito comes down to save Evil. 
  • ZSJ and Naito striker off and Naito hits a Tornado DDT to take out ZSJ. 

Winner: No Contest @0:00

Rating: N/A, At this point in the show there, hadn’t been a standout match in about 2 and a half hours of the show. So when I saw this match was next I got excited. However good it is to see Chris Jericho it was a bit of a disappointment that this match didn’t happen. I don’t know when we’ll see ZSJ vs. Evil but it’s definitely Evil vs. Chris Jericho at Wrestlekingdom. 

1008_7_jr

Marty Scurrl vs. Kushida for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship:

  • Jumping catch into the armbar by Kushida, Scurrl rolls it up for a near fall.
  • Roll up battle sequence, near fall by Kushida. 
  • Apron Superkick by Scurrl blasts Kushida. 
  • Stiff chops by Scurrl ringside. 
  • Romero Special by Scurrl hoists Kushida in the air and works the bad knee of Kushida. 
  • Spike DDT by Kushida gives him space from Scurrl. 
  • Kushida fires up and hits a great cartwheel dropkick. 
  • Hoverboard Lock attempt by Kushida fails and Scurrl dumps him on the apron. Step-up enzugiri by Kushida knocks down Marty. Scurrl springs up to stop Kushida on the top rope. 
  • Superplex by Scurrl but Kushida holds on for a roll up, near fall. Thrust kick by Scurrl nails Kushida. 
  • Another roll up battle sequence with a few very near falls.
  • Handspring by Kushida caught into a backslide rolled into a thrust kick by Scurrl again nailing Kushida.
  • They take turns kneeing each other in the head and it turns into a strike sequence. Double lariat into a double slap takes both out.  
  • Wheelbarrow kick by Kushida catches Scurrl against the ropes sending him ringside. 
  • Super Diablo Armbar by Kushida off the top rope by Kushida, Marty fights under the bottom rope and slingshots Kushida into the rope. 
  • STO into the corner by Kushida into a Back to the Future attempt countered into the Cross Face Chicken Wing by Scurrl, Scurrl locks it in tight and Kushida rolls through to get out.
  • Hoverboard lock by Scurrl, Kushida fights out. 
  • Half and Half suplex by Scurrl dumps Kushida on his head.
  • Graduation attempt by Scurrl reversed into an Air Raid Crash by Kushida.
  • Hand stomp by Scurrl. Kushida goes for the hoverboard lock but the damage to the hand stops Kushida from locking in the hold. 
  • Back to the Future attempt by Kushida rolled up by Scurrl, near fall.
  • Graduation by Scurrl finally hits, great near fall. 
  • 2 consecutive Back to the Future Bombs hit by Kushida closes the match.

Winner: Kushida New Champion!

Rating: ****, This match lacked the amount of excitement and urgency that Ospreay vs. Scurrl had but this was still a very good junior match. These 2 worked an exciting technical match and battled their signature submissions. While the match lacked character, it was great in-ring and Kushida delivered another good performance in grabbing the title.

1008_8_kenriJay White vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi(c) for the G1 Title Shot:

  • Rematch from Wrestlekingdom 12.
  • Jay White immediately rolled to ringside and tries to escape Tana.
  • White throws Tana into the barricade and delivers a stiff chop. Tana turns the tables and dropkicks White over the barricade. 
  • Gedo cheap shots Tana, Tana chases him and White from behind delivers a blow to the bad knee of Tana. 
  • White smashes the leg of Tana into the apron and then wraps the leg around the ring post. Gedo hits the knee of Tana with the G1 Briefcase. 
  • Tana hangs onto the top rope and dropkicks Gedo into the barricade, White catches Tana on his way back into the ring and continues to attack the knee. 
  • Dragon Screw Leg Whip by Tana hits getting himself some needed space from White.
  • Somersault Senton by Tana goes for a near fall. 
  • Cloverleaf by Tana, White gets the ropes. 
  • Saito suplex near the ropes by White dumps Tana all the way to ringside. 
  • White slams Tana into the barricade three times and Jay grabs a chair. 
  • White is distracted by Red Shoes leading to a Dragon Screw over the middle rope by Tana. 
  • Diving High Fly Flow off the top rope to ringside by Tana hits. 
  • Stiff chops by White but Tana keeps going. STO/German Suplex combo by White lays out Tana. 
  • Strikefest into a big move attempt sequence, Twist and Shout by Tana lays out White. Tana maintains control and hits another Twist and Shout. Twisting Vertical Suplex by White ends the sequence. 
  • Slingblade by Tana, Gedo hops up on the barricade and Tana punches him down. Blade Runner attempt by White fails, Dragon suplex by Tana, near fall. 
  • High Fly Flow to a standing White then a High Fly Flow to a downed White, amazing near fall save with Gedo pulling out the referee. 
  • With the referee out, Tana ducks the Brass knuckles from Gedo but White hits a low blow on Tana. White goes to attack Tana with a chair but Tana fires back with a low blow of his own. Tana has been pushed so far to cheat by White. High Fly Flow onto a chair misses sending Tana directly onto the steel chair. White throws a chair into the face of Tana knocking him down. 
  • With Red Shoes back in, White goes for the Blade Runner but Tana rolls it up to close the match. 

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi Retains the Title Shot!

Rating: ****1/2, the story here was Gedo and Jay White were the big deal heels taking over NJPW and betraying Chaos. Tanahashi again played an awesome babyface and this match was a saga. The working of Tana’s knee was great and the Gedo interference never got annoying and actually played into the match. The near fall after Tana hit 2 High Fly Flows on White and Gedo pulled out the referee was awesome. The urgency in this match was great too as there were a lot of moments were you thought Jay White could cheat to win. Tanahashi having to roll up to win the match protects Jay White as they continue to strap the rocket to his back and have him carry the heel portion of NJPW. 

  • Kazuchika Okada comes down to save Hiroshi Tanahashi from an attack. The Firing Squad comes down. Firing Squad forced Okada to chose between Chaos and Gedo and Tama hits a Gun Stun laying out Okada. Gedo, Jado, and the Firing Squad attack Okada with Jay White forming a new faction. 

1008_9_iwgpKenny Omega(c) vs. Cody vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Title:

  • Hugs all around before the match.
  • Cody quickly tosses Ibushi out to focus on Omega.
  • Omega gets in the way of the Golden Triangle by Ibushi inadvertently saving Cody. 
  • Kitaro Crusher by Omega to Cody but Ibushi goes for the pin, Omega pulls him off. 
  • Explex by Cody to Omega, near fall. 
  • Front Release Vertical Suplex ringside by Cody to Ibushi driving him ribs first into the floor.
  • Cody backdrops Ibushi over the barricade into chairs in the crowd. Ibushi might have hurt his knee. 
  • The rise of the Terminator hits by Omega. 
  • More Bang for your Buck by Golden Lovers but Cody dodges and Omega goes for the One-Winged Angel on Ibushi out of nowhere but Kota fights out. 
  • Powerslam/Moonsault combo by Ibushi on Cody, near fall. 
  • While in Mid-Suplex by Omega, Cody rolls up Kenny for a near fall. Innovative little spot there. 
  • Figure 4 by Cody locked in on Omega, Omega grabs the foot of Kota and applies an ankle lock. Standing moonsault by Ibushi on Omega still in the hold, near fall save by Cody. 
  • Standing Moonsault by Ibushi but Cody gets his knees up. 
  • V-Trigger attempt by Omega intercepted with a missile dropkick by Ibushi. 
  • Spike DDT by Cody to Ibushi, near fall. 
  • Cody ducks a lariat by Ibushi and hits a great suicide dive to Omega ringside, Cody stops the Golden Triangle and goes for a Cross Rhodes on the apron. Omega grabs Cody on the apron and drives him through the announce table with a powerbomb. 
  • Amazing Corkscrew Tope by Ibushi takes out Omega. 
  • Ibushi and Omega stand-off. Stares turn into strikes and a strikefest ensues. They take turns booting each other and then Ibushi hits his strike combo but Omega hits a stiff chop. Snap Dragon by Omega. Omega hits 2 consecutive V-Triggers into a reverserana but Ibushi lands on his feet. Stiff lariat by Ibushi flips Omega and ends an awesome sequence. 
  • Cody shoves Ibushi off the top rope to ringside and Ibushi takes a hard fall, Canadian Destroyer by Cody on Omega, near fall.
  • Omega escapes a Vertebreaker attempt by Cody and hits a spinning heel kick sending Cody into the corner. Hard corner V-trigger connects for Omega. 
  • Omega buckle bombs Ibushi into the corner with Cody in it putting Rhodes in the Tree of Woe. 
  • V-Trigger by Omega on Ibushi but the One-Winged Angel attempt fails. Lawn Dart by Ibushi sends Omega into the corner with Cody in the Tree of Woe, really smart spot. 
  • Deadlift German on the ropes by Ibushi fails but Omega goes for a springboard sunset flip, slips a little but still hits a pretty solid chain bomb. 
  • V-Trigger party by Omega, One Winged Angel attempt on Cody fails. Cody powerbombs Omega into a German Suplex by Ibushi using a Golden Lovers move. 
  • Cody pushes Omega off the top rope springboard to ringside through a table, great spot. Omega takes a hard landing.
  • Superplex by Kota but Cody holds on into a roll up, near fall. Would be a better spot if we didn’t see it in Scurrl vs. Kushida. 
  • Sit-out Powerbomb by Ibushi to Cody, great near fall. 
  • Kamegoye dodged by Cody but Ibushi maintains control into a German Suplex.
  • Kamegoye hits for Ibushi on Cody but Omega slides in to stop the referee’s hand, great near fall. 
  • Omega tries to apologize to Ibushi for costing him the title but Ibushi strikes at Omega. An intense strikefest ensues, Cody tries to join but Ibushi slaps him down. The stiff strikefest ensues and Ibushi gets Omega on the ground and hits more palm strikes. This is a different Ibushi than normal. Bomaye hits for Ibushi, near fall. 
  • Kamegoye attempt by Ibushi but Cody pulls him ringside. Cody hits a Cross Rhodes on Omega, great near fall save by Ibushi making the diving double stomp hit the pin. 
  • Another Cross Rhodes hit for Cody, amazing near fall on Omega. 
  • Vertebreaker by Cody hits on Ibushi, near fall save by Kenny. 
  • Cody grabs his US Title but decides not to use it. He grabs a steel chair anyway. Ibushi saves Omega from a steel chair shot.
  • Reverserana into a Jay Driller by Omega on Ibushi, great near fall. 
  • V-Trigger into a One-Winged Angel that hits for Omega closing the match. 

Winner: Kenny Omega Retains! Day Count: 119+ Days

Rating: ****1/2, This match flowed so well. Everyone in this match was a fantastic wrestler. I heard complaints about Cody being in this match but they are still going to have to save Omega vs. Ibushi for a larger show. The story between Omega and Ibushi was outstanding, especially after Omega broke up the pin after the Kamegoye on Cody. Kota wanted the title so bad that he kept striking on Omega and you could feel the heat and emotion. This match had some awesome near falls and the in-ring work was top notch. The main complaint with Cody is that he takes to long to focus on the match and he taunts too much, the triple threat environment forced him to keep up with 2 of the best wrestlers in the world which brought out the best Cody I’ve seen in a while. While the match is 5 stars, there have been so many 5 star matches this year which might make this towards the bottom of the top ten matches of the year but it was an absolute instant classic. It was a gamble too, the triple threat is new to NJPW and it had 2 foreigners in the match. It could’ve been badly received by the Japanese audience but it wasn’t and the gamble paid off big time. 

Grade: B

Last Words: This is a 3 match card, once you get into Kushida vs. Scurrl the show actually gets great. It’s hard to watch 2 hours of meaningless tag matches and love the show. The final 3 matches were all great though. This has been my main complaint about NJPW, they use too many tag matches and that takes away from the show as a whole. On something like a Progress Chapter or an NXT Takeover the cards are a lot smaller but also have a lot less filler. This isn’t the best NJPW show this year by a long shot but it’s also been one of New Japan’s best years. The Long Beach show last week was better but this still wasn’t bad. This show also worked as a storyline progression show as well. The additions of new storyline development in Jay White vs Hiroshi Tanahashi with adding Firing Squad into the mix and the new member of LIJ helped make this show significant. If you are rushed, only watch the LIJ tag match, Tanahashi vs. White, Scurrl vs. Kushida, and the Main Event. 

MOTN: Cody vs. Kenny Omega vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship

MVP: Kenny Omega 

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