New Japan Pro Wrestling
WRESTLING HI NO KUNI 2019
Grand Messe Kumamoto
Kevin Kelly & Gino Gambino on commentary.
TOA HENARE, YUYA UEMURA & YOTA TSUJI
TOMOAKI HONMA, REN NARITA & SHOTA UMINO
Tension from each team to start off as we get the bell. Yuya & Narita start off. Grappling and mat work to begin. Tags to Tsuji and Umino, more grappling and a chop by Tsuji in the ropes. Tsuji drops Umino with a tackle and cheap shots Narita but Honma evades. Shots traded. Nice elbow and basement dropkick by Umino for 2. Tag to Honma, who hits an elbow for 2. Tag to Narita who grounds Tsuji as Umino drops Tsuji’s partners. Tag to Honma. Slam by Honma and he hits a falling Kokeshi. Tsuji fights back and hits a dropkick. Henare is getting fired up for a tag and gets it. Shots from Henare and a flying tackle drops Honma. Narita in but Henare gets corner clotheslines on both, then hoists Honma, uses Honma’s legs to drop Narita and hits a Samoan Drop. Honma tries to fight off a suplex but Henare uses his power to take him over anyway for 2. Strikes traded and Honma drops Henare with a jumping Kokeshi.
Tags to Yuya and Umino, Yuya hits a nice dropkick and goes for the Crab, Umino fights it off but Yuya keeps on him and Team Henare gets a triple team. NICE running corner dropkick by Yuya followed by a Tsuji powerslam and Yuya locks in the Boson Crab, but Narita breaks it up. Yuya in control but Narita cuts him off, spinebuster by Umino connects and a smooth transition into the Boston Crab. Umino sits down deep, but Yuya powers to the ropes. Fisherman by Umino is countered into a cradle for 2, Umino answers with a dropkick and hits the bridging Fisherman Suplex for 3.
Tomoaki Honma, Ren Narita & Shota Umino defeat Toa Henare, Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji by pinfall after a Fisherman Suplex
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
This was a decent opener, though I’ve felt the Lions matches have been ending better than this one did, which felt a bit abrupt and anti-climactic.
After the match, Honma takes off his wrist tape and gives it as a gift to a kid in the front row near the ramp, which actually was pretty cute and cool.
(Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
JUSHIN LIGER, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, JEFF COBB, TIGER MASK IV & YOSHI-HASHI
I get in the storyline rivalry between Cobb and Taichi, why Taichi is coming out last from Suzuki-Gun… but honestly it feels weird given, well, MINORU SUZUKI is in the match. But that might just be me. Suzuki-Gun attacks before the bell because OF COURSE THEY DO and the action spills immediately to ringside. Suzuki and Liger go right at each other, with Liger getting the whip on Suzuki into the rail. Tiger fights off Kanemaru and Despy, and squares off with Despy 1 on 1. Tilt a Whirl Backbreaker from Tiger connects. Tag to HASHI who hits the Bunker Buster and the draped dropkick to the back for 2. Tag to Taguchi and Suzuki-Gun gets dropped as “Taguchi Japan” gets the Quintuple Team with Taguchi calling the plays. Despy sends Tiger into Taguchi’s bum as Suzuki-Gun takes out the faces, and Taguchi turns around to face all 5. Taguchi tries to put the rugby helmet on Suzuki but gets beaten down instead. Taguchi is sent outside as Suzuki-Gun causes chaos at ringside.
Taichi with a big chair shot to the face on Cobb as Taguchi is sent back inside, Despy covers for 2. Tag to Kanemaru as Taichi comes in with both of Cobb’s title belts, and then throws them roughly at Cobb on the outside. Tag to TAKA who stays on Taguchi as Taichi works over Cobb on the floor. Suzuki now gets a hanging knee bar on Taguchi while the ref is distracted. Tag to Suzuki, and Suzuki-Gun just toys with Taguchi. HUGE forearm by Suzuki, but he eats a Taguchi hip attack. Tag to Liger who goes right for Suzuki. SHOTEI! in the corner connects. Brainbuster by Liger on Suzuki gets a 2 count but Suzuki gets a corner running boot and PK. Cover, but only 1. Suzuki toys with Liger. They trade shots and Suzuki looks for the choke, shifts to the Gotch but Liger counters until Suzuki hits a knee to the gut. Tags to Taichi and Cobb, with Cobb getting the advantage with his power. Running corner Euro, Samoan Drop and standing moonsault by Cobb connects into a cover but Suzuki-Gun breaks it up.
Cobb with an insane double pumphandle suplex on Despy and Kanemaru, looks for Tour on Taichi but its countered, with Taichi landing a nice hook kick. Buzzsaw kick connects on Cobb for 2. THE PANTS GO FLYING! Cobb evades the superkick but Taichi hits a Kawada-style Gamengiri and both are down. Tag to TAKA who cuts Cobb off from his team and Cobb gets ganged up on. PK by Suzuki, knee strike/kick combo from TAKA and Kanemaru gets 2. Taichi inside with the NEVER belt but Taguchi in to drop Taichi and TAKA. Liger dumps Suzuki, Cobb and TAKA square off, Tiger takes out Despy at ringside with a GREAT suicide dive, TAKA hits a nice jumping heel kick but Cobb gets a Sidewinder Suplex and follows with Tour of the Islands, covers and thats the 3 count.
Liger, Cobb, Taguchi, Tiger Mask & HASHI defeat Suzuki-Gun by pinfall after Tour of the Islands
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
Another decent but unspectacular match, no real escalation to Liger/Suzuki and Taichi and Cobb didnt feel like they had much time to get heat going, so the whole thing felt a little rushed and less invested than one would hope from these talents.
After the match Suzuki and Liger each grab chairs and tensions flare all around.
BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & Hikuleo) vs DRAGON LEE & WILL OSPREAY
BC attacks before the bell and dumps Lee, and double teams Will. Will is able to dump Taiji and Lee back in for a double team on Hikuleo with a nice double kneeling dropkick, and Will springs off of Lee’s back into a corkscrew moonsault for 2. Taiji runs Lee into the rail outside and gets a kick to Will allowing Hikuleo to get a slam. Big chops by Hikuleo in the corner. Tag to Taiji who grounds Will. Tag to Hikuleo who hits a suplex for 2. Tag to Taiji who drops Lee. Shots traded. Nice quickness from Taiji but Will lands the handspring enziguri and tags Lee who hits Combinacion de Cabron and a hesitation dropkick, and hits a Shibata pose. Lee toys with Taiji but Taiji gets a rollup for 2 and they go head to head and trade. And trade. AND TRADE SOME MORE. Nice knee strike by Lee, both sort of botch reverse ranas, and Taiji gets a snap suplex and both are down. Tag to Hikuleo and they trade, with Lee showing no intimidation to the size difference. Lee with a nice jumping knee but eats a HUGE boot.
Lee reverses a bomb into a rana into a shot by Will and Lee drops Hikuleo out of the corner and tags Will, who hits a great Pip Pip Cheerio for 2. Will is fired up and hits a running corner Euro and hesitation dropkick. Will looks for Stormbreaker on Hikuleo but Taiji cuts it off. Running double knees by Taiji and Tongan Swing by Hikuleo but Lee breaks it up at 2. Running rana on Taiji by Lee who follows with a suicide dive, Will looks for the Os-Cutter but eats a big lariat from Hikuleo. Will lands a hook kick and Robinson Special, lines up Hikuleo and hits a nice Os-Cutter, cover and thats 3.
Will Ospreay & Dragon Lee defeat Hikuleo & Taiji Ishimori by pinfall after an Os-Cutter
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
A slight uptick from the past two, but there was some weird communication and execution issues here, and again it just didnt quite feel as connected as I would hope from all of these guys (even Hikuleo, who has been improving steadily in my opinion).
BAD LUCK FALE vs MIKEY NICHOLLS
We get the bell and Mikey and Fale talk shit to each other. Mikey goes right for Fale with a clothesline and is able to dump Fale but misses a dive and crashes into the rail. Fale sends Mikey over the rail into the announce are and works him over. The ref is shoved by Fale, who goes back inside as the ref counts Mikey outside. Mikey back at 18 and Fale meets him and keeps working him over, with a focus on the right arm and shoulder. The story here is that the lariat is a signature of Mikey who says he will be able to take Fale down with it, and Fale has said hell no and so is working to guarantee that Mikey cant. Fale misses the avalanche in the corner and Mikey hits a lariat but barely budges Fale who then runs right through Mikey. Thudding lariats from both, Fale looks for Grenade, Mikey escapes and is able to drop Fale with a lariat, then hits a sliding lariat and covers but only gets 2. Mikey makes “Mad” sounds, I guess, and tries to lift Fale but cant, and Fale hits a Tongan Drop and big splash for 2. The Grenade connects, cover and thats 3.
Bad Luck Fale defeats Mikey Nicholls by pinfall after the Grenade
JAY’S RATING: 1.75 out of 5
This match barely existed, was completely one note and had zero build. I have zero idea what Mikey Nicholls is doing here right now – the character is completely non-specific, and seems to consist of Mikey being angry all the time or something. But his matches dont feel connected to that beyond him making some angry noises here and there. Somethings gotta shift here, because I have no idea why this match needed to even exist on the card given what this was.
CHASE OWENS vs JUICE ROBINSON
Hey, if nothing else, Juice’s outfits are getting weirder and cooler every day. We get the bell, Chase gets the early advantage and stays ahead of Juice. Paintbrushes by Chase, Juice looks to escape but Chase fishhooks him and holds the hair to keep control. Chase keeps outwrestling Juice early on. More toying from Chase, Juice tries to fire back but Chase goes to the eye and is able to keep Juice staggered. Juice hits a back drop and Chase begs off and offers the hand, Juice doesnt fall for it and drops Chase with tackles before Chase dumps him and hits a wrecking ball dropkick through the ropes. Back in and Chase hits a basement flatliner for 2. The crowd is utterly silent and you can FEEL it. Juice evades the knee into a rollup for 2, flurry by Chase and they both hit thudding lariats. Shots traded, jabs from Juice but Chase cuts off the Left Hand of God before eating a Harlem Sidekick. Running clothesline connects from Juice and he tries to fire up the crowd, climbs and hits the crossbody fully for 2.
Juice calls for Pulp Friction, Chase counters and gets a rollup for 2. Chase looks for the Package Piledriver, Juice counters and looks for Pulp Friction but Chase is able to stay standing and hits that sharp knee strike. Package Piledriver is attempted again, Juice fights out and gets a jackknife pin for 2, Chase bridges out and gets a backslide for 2, they trade escapes but Chase connects with a nice Nigel Lariat. Juice lands the Left Hand of God and is able to connect with Pulp Friction, cover and thats the 3 count.
Juice Robinson defeats Chase Owens by pinfall after Pulp Friction
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
A fine match by two solid competitors, but the crowd was utterly dead, and I dont really blame them. We’ve seen this match already, there were no stakes, this felt crammed into a short time frame and thus wasnt more than a thin rehash of their last outing. Why were these past two matches included on this card? They served essentially no purpose for character, story or title contention.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON
(Testuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Roppongi 3K) & KOTA IBUSHI
Okada and SANADA start at the bell. Chants for Okada. SANADA looks for the Paradise Lock early but Okada fights out and gets a unique lock of his own, sort of a hammerlock/stump puller combo. Tag to Yoh who is able to drop SANADA with a forearm. Shingo in, Sho comes in to help and R3K is able to get double teams on Shingo and SANADA. LIJ plays the numbers game on Yoh and drops the rest of CHAOS, with EVIL and Ishii going at it at ringside. Naito and Ibushi face off as well while SANADA beats down Yoh in the ring. Tag to BUSHI. Middle rope dropkick by BUSHI connects into a Bushiroonie, and Naito gets the tag to work over Yoh. Yoh fights back but Naito fires at him. Combincaion de Cabron connects on Yoh and Naito gets a Lotus Lock. Sho breaks it up but eats a DDT from BUSHI who then helps line Yoh up for a Naito basement dropkick. Tag to Shingo who stays on Yoh, hitting a suplex for 2. BUSHI in but Yoh gets Dragon Screws on both him and Shingo and looks to tag, getting Ibushi.
Ibushi springs in with a dropkick to Shingo, a snap rana on Naito and a double Pele on EVIL and SANADA. Flurry from Ibushi on EVIL and a standing moonsault and covers (I missed the tag) for 2. Tag to Ishii who goes right at EVIL and they go at it hard. Ishii finally drops EVIL with a tackle. Big chops from Ishii. EVIL blocks the brainbuster and looks for the Fisherman but they hit a stalemate trying to lift each other, the crowd fires up but they break, EVIL uses the ref to his advantage and hits the Fisherman Buster. Tag to Okada and SANADA who come in hot. Big running back elbow by Okada connects. Okada lands the Air Raid Neckbreaker, LIJ is taken out and Okada climbs and lands the diving elbow drop, and hits the Rainmaker pose. Okada looks for it but SANADA looks for Skull End, Okada escapes and hits the standing dropkick. Rainmaker is evaded again into Skull End and SANADA drops down, but Yoh breaks it up.
SANADA looks for the Mutoh moonsault, Okada moves and hits a John Woo dropkick to take down SANADA. Tag to Sho who comes right after SANADA, tries to German SANADA who escapes but eats a spear from Sho. Sho looks for a deadlift German, SANADA fights it off twice but Sho hits it on the 3rd try and bridges but only gets 2. Sho is firing up and calls for Shock Arrow but Shingo comes in to break it up. They trade thudding lariats, Sho hits a nice lariat but Shingo is right back up and lands the Pumping Bomber, allowing SANADA to hit a back suplex for 2. SANADA looks for Skull End but Ishii cuts it off, EVIL in and runs into SANADA but hits Ishii with a German suplex, EVIL eats an Ibushi dropkick but Naito goes after Ibushi and hits a running single leg dropkick. BUSHI takes out Yoh with a suicide dive as SANADA picks up Sho and is able to get the spinning dragon sleeper and drops down into Skull End and Sho has no choice but to tap.
LIJ defeats CHAOS & Kota Ibushi by submission after Skull End
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
This was a fun match by two teams who know who to bring great stuff out of each other, but at the same time it still didnt really rise to some of the other matches theyve had against each other, even just recently. The post match helped, however, as all of the upcoming match-ups squared up with each other and all of them have a ton of promise as independent matches, and the point was to hype those. So on that level, mission accomplished.
IWGP World Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
MOST VIOLENT PLAYERS (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) vs GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY (c)
MVP comes out with the stolen IWGP Tag belts in hand. Jado is out, kendo stick in hand, with GoD. GoD attacks before the bell, dumping Togi and beating down Yano. Yano plays his shenanigans and undoes the corner pad as Togi drops GoD. Loa is sent to the exposed corner, and MVP gets a spike piledriver on Tama on the floor. Yano takes Loa into the audience and sends him into the audience seating as Yano channels his inner Minoru Suzuki, as Togi takes out Tama. Nice aggression from Yano. The ref starts to count out GoD but Loa slides back in, and Yano is on top of him. Loa reverses Yano into the exposed corner and drives him hard into it again, and Tama takes him out before dumping Yano to ringside and sending him into the rail. GoD in control now, Yano sent back inside and Loa covers for 2. Slam and legdrop by Loa for another 2. Double suplex by GoD connects for 2.
Tama in and beats down Yano and sends him into the exposed buckle again, and drops Togi. Tag to Loa who hits a tope atomico but Yano is in the ropes. Loa keeps the pressure on Yano. Tag to Tama and they hit a double headbutt and Tama chokes out Yano and sends him again into that buckle. Cover by Tama but only 2. Tag to Loa and they hit a double elbow. Yano gets Loa’s hair and pulls him down, and gets the tag to Togi who drops Loa. Tama in but is sent into the buckle and Togi hits corner clotheslines, mounts Loa and lays in the punches but Loa counters the Northern Lights suplex. They hit lariats but Loa lands a release German suplex and tags in Tama. Double dropkick drops Togi, cover by Tama but only 2. The crowd gets behind Togi who asks for more from Tama who Togi drops with a left arm lariat. Tag to Yano who sends Tama into the buckle and gets a nice amatuer throw and a nice belly to belly! I love Yano’s shtick. Loa trips up Yano but Togi trips up Tama and gets the tag.
Double team by MVP and Yano slingshots Tama into the exposed buckle headfirst, but Jado is able to break the momentum with a cane shot to Togi. Loa drops Yano, and GoD hit the assisted Tongan Twist and cover but Togi is out at 2. Loa and Tama climb opposite corners, Loa hits a diving headbutt and Tama hits a big splash but still only gets 2. GoD keeps on Togi, they look for the Superbomb but Yano cuts it off before getting dropped by Loa. Tama assaults the ref as Loa grabs a chain, but Yano gets a low blow! Yano counters Gun Stun and hits a tackle to the back, Togi wraps the arm in a chain and takes out Tama with a lariat and covers but only gets 2. Togi calls for the King Kong Knee Drop and it connects, cover but Loa breaks it up. Loa gets dumped, Jado looks for a cane shot but Togi takes him out, but it allows Tama to get Togi rolled up with a handful of tights for the 3 count.
Guerrillas of Destiny defeat the Most Violent Players by pinfall after a rollup with the tights
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was a solid little match, though it didnt have the fire I feel like I would want from a title match, and instead of really leaning into the antics of MVP they sort of kept playing the exposed corner bit over and over, and finished with a fairly flat ending. GoD get their titles back, but this tag division needs some adrenaline injected into it stat.
JAY WHITE vs HIROOKI GOTO
We get the bell, and the crowd is very behind Goto. Jay bails to start as usual to control the pace. Back in and lockup, Goto fires off shots but Jay bails again. Goto follows and Jay heads inside, Goto follows and Jay heads outside but Goto gets a step ahead and catches Jay in the ring and lands a hiptoss and tackle. Jay rolls out and Goto follows and keeps the pressure on. Gedo tries to interfere and Goto gets in his face, and this allows Jay to catch Goto with a snap Saito suplex on the floor. The ref starts the count but Goto back in quickly, and Jay sends him right back out and drives him from rail to apron and back again. Jay rolls Goto in and covers but ref Red Shoes Uno refuses to count because of the illegal work outside. Neckbreaker by Jay, cover and we get a count but only 2. Half crab by Jay, then grabs the other leg and locks in the full crab and talks shit about Goto being a Young Boy. Goto gets the ropes and Jay hangs on through 4, then decapitates Goto under the bottom rope. Cover by Jay but still only 2.
Jay keeps the pressure on Goto. A back elbow drops Goto and Jay covers for 2, and looks to ground Goto. Goto fights up but Jay keeps him staggered until Goto lands a snap suplex. Goto misses a shot in the corner and Jay hits another snap Saito suplex, and toys with Goto. Jay tries to keep the pressure on but Goto drops him with a mid kick. Goto looks for a Saito of his own, Jay blocks but Goto is able to get it on the next attempt for 2. Ushigoroshi is blocked twice but Goto gets a kneeling chest kick to Jay. Chants for Goto who looks for a lariat but Jay begs off to avoid it. And again. Goto tries once more and Jay drops to his knees, but eats a kick instead, Goto looks for the lariat again but Gedo grabs Goto’s foot and Jay is able to land a uranage. Jay hits a running corner Euro and a DVD (Kevin Kelly says he calls it a DVDDT?) and covers for 2. Goto blocks the Kiwi Crusher and looks for the Psych Out Lariat but Jay hits the flatliner/bridging German suplex combo for 2.
Jay looks for the Kiwi Crusher again but Goto blocks and is able to drop Jay with a short lariat. Goto looks for a kick but Jay catches him in a Saito suplex over the top rope to the floor. Jay rolls Goto back in and finally lands the Kiwi Crusher, covers but Goto is out at 2. More mocking from Jay as he calls for Blade Runner, Goto reverses and looks for Shouten Kai but Jay counters and lays in a series of knee strikes. Chants for Goto, who pops up with another nice short lariat and both are down. They trade shots on their knees, then on their feet, with Goto dropping Jay with an elbow. Goto presses his advantage but Jay lands strikes, they run the ropes and each looks for the shot but Goto finally lands his Psych Out Lariat. The corner spin kick from Goto connects followed by the draping neckbreaker, cover by Goto but only 2.
Goto looks to climb but Gedo wakes up Jay who cuts him off and looks for the superplex, Goto fights it off and they trade strikes on top in the corner, with Goto landing a headbutt, and HITS A TOP ROPE CODE RED! Cover, but only 2. Nice spot. Goto fires up and calls for GTR, but Gedo pops up on the apron as Jay gets a chair, but Goto ducks and drops Jay and then throws Gedo into the ring. Goto hits Ushigoroshi on Gedo, Jay fires back but Goto catches him in Ushigoroshi as well. Big mid kick by Goto and he sets up GTR but Jay fights it off. Goto lands another headbutt and an inverted GTR, covers but Jay is out at 2. The GTR is attempted again but Jay counters again and looks for Blade Runner, Goto escapes and they each trade attempts at their finishes. Jay is able to land a big sleeper suplex that drops Goto on his head but Goto is right back up (FIGHTING SPIRIT!) and Jay catches him in another sleeper suplex, then connects with Blade Runner and covers for the 3 count.
Jay White defeats Hirooki Goto by pinfall after Blade Runner
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
Easily the best match on the card. While I feel like both of them are capable of delivering far more, this was a well told story between them, and the right person won as Jay begins to rebuild after dropping the IWGP title. I do hope one day Goto can figure out that next gear, as he has so many of the pieces to make an IWGP champ, but cant quite find that X-factor to make it feel like its fully time. And the finish was good but I felt like might have used just one more beat. Nonetheless, a strong outing from both here.
After the match Jay grabs a mic and asks the crowd if they are not happy since Goto let them down again. Jay runs down Goto as an embarrassment. Jay says its still his era, and he’s coming for his belt.
I dont know if its because of the rest of the Dontaku tour or what, but this card felt really unfocused to me. Everyone’s execution was just a little off at one point or the other, and some of the matches really felt like filler as they really didnt advance anything for anyone. Its a shame, because this card could have had more fun given the people involved, and instead it just ended up feeling like a bit of an afterthought card. However, I’m excited by whats coming up with the Dontaku cards, and it may just be a symptom of almost too much lead up between this and the full Tour plus Sengoku Lord to boot. Theres nothing here I would call “must-see”, but the LIJ/Chaos+Ibushi matchup is pretty fun and the main event got the crowd invested again for the home stretch.