NJPW King Of Pro-Wrestling Title Four Way Match
Toru Yano vs. BUSHI vs. Bad Luck Fale vs. Chase Owens - 4/10
This was pretty bad, not only wrestling wise, but the story told was poor. It was pretty much Bullet Club working together to dominate until the overused dissention after one breaks another's pin, which was made ever worse because we had already seen Owens be perfectly ok playing dead for Fale. At the end, Yano won the trophy again, and like it or not, he was the best option between these four. Fale could have run a 'bodyslam challenge' if Yano hadn't already won that match two weeks prior.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs. Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi - 7/10
This was good, but nothing memorable. Wato looked the most impressive that I've seen of him here. He still looks like a dork with his entrance gear, but his hair is starting to look better now. Taguchi had good energy, but this was definitely comedy Taguchi in here.
The match was fast paced, tons of action, Wato was flying all over the place, so he really stood out. Desperado hit Pinche Loco on Taguchi for the win.
NEVER Openweight Title Match
Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Jeff Cobb - 9/10
Great match, it was tons of action and physicality. Story was that Cobb was a bit to big for what Shingo was accustomed for, and so he had to find ways to damage Cobb to bring him down to a level that Shingo could maneuver, and once he did, Shingo started going back and forward with Cobb. This part at the start made every big move from Shingo later on, look impressive, the Pumping Bomber making Cobb flying looked huge, or Shingo carrying around Cobb for the Last of the Dragon, made it seem like Shingo was going all out.
With this loss, The Empire lost all their first Wrestle Kingdom matches. This could be the motivation to do something big and add new people, let's see if there is a reaction.
SANADA vs. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) - 8/10
Well, for all the passion and anger that SANADA and EVIL showed during the build up to this match, they just went in and had a normal match. Sure it had all the EVIL shenanigans, but they came from desperation, not to hurt SANADA, and that was what I was really hoping and expecting, one of those starts where both men can't wait to get their hands on each other. The crowd live did seem to react to SANADA in a positive way.
I thought the match was good nonetheless, it was babyface SANADA fighting off EVIL and Togo and their heelish antics, which had been my favorite matches of EVIL since the turn, the ones with Tanahashi for instance, were the babyface fights him and prevails over the cheating. The finish I did feel was somewhat weak, it wasn't even the Skull End this time, it was the moonsault that just takes to long to set up and hit.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match
"Bone Soldier" Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi - 7.5/10
Good match and all, but I actually got kinda bored during this match, there was barely any fire during Ishimori's heat parts nor Hiromu's comeback, and I'm not gonna put all the blame on Ishimori, I thought Hiromu himself was just 'ok' these two shows, not even close to the energy of the BOSJ finals.
Match saw Ishimori work on Hiromu's shoulder, and in return, Hiromu just kinda hit a bunch of moves. The thing I liked the most about this match was Ishimori's counters and reversals into the Bone Lock. The thing, however, that I disliked the most, was the spot with Ishimori hitting elbows and Hiromu just walking into them over and over, it didn't look like fighting spirit, it just made Hiromu look kinds dumb and stubborn.
IWGP Heavyweight Title / IWGP Intercontinental Title Match
"Golden Star" Kota Ibushi (c) vs. "Switchblade" Jay White (w/Gedo) - 10/10!
I can't remember the last time I saw so many muscles in one single match. There's a 20-pack between these two.
This was just awesome. The match pacing was perfect, the intensity went up and down at the right time, the interference happened at the right time, either because of it or not, we had amazing near falls. Even being 98% sure that there was no way Ibushi would lose the titles in one day, some near falls made think that White was stealing the win. The energy that Ibushi erupted as the match went on, I can't remember the last time I heard him audibly shout and call out White as he did in this match.
The match also played to some history with White and Ibushi doing the same pin that White used to win the briefcase to begin with, but this time Red Shoes saw the feet on the ropes. In addition, there was a small take on that one time that Ibushi lost his shot at winning the title, when he faced AJ Styles and Kenny Omega distracted him, here it was Gedo doing the distracting, but Ibushi survived.
Post-match - It took a while to get White out, and after being given his titles to Ibushi, SANADA, looking amazing by the way, came out to congratulate Ibushi and challenge him for a title match. Ibushi accepted and cut his winner's promo, saying that he has become a God. SANADA's promo was weird, he kinda made it seem like it
Backstage, Jay White cut the promo of his life, talking about all the sacrifice he's done to be in New Japan and be the best, but no one gives him the credit and everyone laughs at him for being wrong that it was his destino to win the titles. He hinted giving up and quitting, even bringing up that New Japan is gonna have to jump hoops to resign him, hinting doing this 'somewhere else'.
The show closed with just an amazing match, but aside this and the Shingo vs Cobb match, I thought at lot of the show was somewhat disappointing, and I say that as the upmost praise of New Japan and Wrestle Kingdom's quality throughout the years. Some of the matches tonight felt like your mid-tour show main event, some of the bigger ones like Hiromu vs Ishimori just failed to show energy. But at the end of the day, that main event alone makes this a top show to watch.
And this isn't a blame on the absence of Tana, Naito, or Okada, this is just the energy of the matches we had, opener aside, this show was top to bottom full of wrestlers that any other given night, have given us MOTYCs.