Hello friends, before I begin I’d like to send my condolences to the Meltzer Family, Dave’s father passed away today. On Twitter, the Young Bucks promised a huge Meltzer Driver as a tribute. A very cool thing to do.
Onto the show, it’s night two at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. Apparently 38 states bought tickets to the two day event which leads me to think a bigger venue is needed when NJPW comes back. Preferably driving distance to Columbus, OH. I’m just saying.
Tempura Boys and Yoshi Tatsu vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Kushida, and David Finlay
Winners: Liger, Kushida, and Finlay at 8:52. Finlay tapped out Tatsu with a wrist lock.
Onto the United States Championship Tournament.
Omega vs. Lethal
Lethal has his ribs taped up yet again which if you missed it was from an injury sustained by the Beer City Bruiser. Omega targets the ribs but Lethal gets momentum and hits and early Lethal Injection. Omega smartly rolls to the outside and Lethal nails his three suicide dives and the big elbow drop followed by the figure four. The story is obviously Lethal wants to try and get a quick win to save his ribs since he’s got another match tonight. Omega counters another Lethal Injection with a back stabber and continues to work over the ribs. Omega wins when he drops Lethal in the One Winged Angel.
Winner: Kenny Omega at 12:57. Match was very good and told a good story of Lethal and his hurt ribs but not being able to overcome Omega’s onslaught of offense.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Sabre Jr. looked good in the match. He tried to put Ishii away with submissions including a really great looking octopus stretch that Ishii really had to struggle to make it to the ropes and once he managed to hook his feet in the middle rope the crowd popped huge. Sabre tried to exchange strikes with Ishii which failed as one would expect, and Ishii punished Sabre until hitting the Brainbuster for the 3.
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii at 11:42.
Dragon Lee, Juice Robinson, Jay White, and Titan vs. Los Ingobernables
Winners: Lee, Robinson, White, and Titan at 12:29. White hits a Flatliner to Bushi. Fans were behind Dragon Lee especially when he and Takahahsi squared off. Much better than the multi person tag matches from night one.
The Guerillas of Destiny, and Hangman Page with Chase Owens and Haku vs. War Machine and Michael Elgin
Winners: The Bullet Club at 11:18. Haku got a good ovation when he showed up to accompany his sons to the ring. Page won with a Rite of Passage on Rowe. After the match Page held up the belts then yelled into the camera that he’s coming for the tag titles. JR pointed out Page doesn’t have a tag partner and I doubt it’ll be Chase Owens so maybe Bad Luck Fale?
Before intermission, the Chairman for NJPW came out and they announced that New Japan will be back in the United States in 2018. No time or location but hey that’s pretty cool. I’d assume either the Los Angeles area again or maybe New York.
IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship Match
Roppongi Vice vs. The Young Bucks(c)
These teams have fought a million time and each time they pull off a great match with tons of high spots that the crowd just eats up and this was no different. Definitely smart to add this match to the card as the US crowd would definitely eat it up. As promised the Bucks delivered a huge Meltzer Driver, Matt had Rocky on the outside and Nick jumped from the top and nailed i to the floor, 6 stars! Afterwards, Matt said, “That was for you Herbert.” Very cool. Bucks hit a second Meltzer Driver and finished off RPG Vice with tandem sharpshooters, another tribute to Smith Hart.
Winners: The Young Bucks at 22:49. A lot of big news happened after the match. Ricochet attacked both Bucks after the match and challenged them to a match in NJPW with Taguchi as his partner. Ricochet then did a Rock impression and said he’d have been here last night but a certain underground fight club are being pricks. Wow, Prince Puma throwing shade, big time. I wouldn’t be shocked if Prince Puma gets eaten by the dinosaurs next season for that one. The Bucks accept the match and everyone heads to the back, everyone except RPG Vice.
Romero says they had a 5 year plan and they’ve had a lot of success but they said if they didn’t win the titles tonight they would go their separate ways. Romero said it’s time for Beretta to go to the heavyweight division and although he didn’t say it, Romero seemed to imply he was retiring or at least slowing down. I prefer the two man commentary booth but Romero is a great color man so I would not be upset at all if that’s where he went.
Briscoe Brothers, Kazuchika Okada, and Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale, and Cody
This was your standard 8 man tag match but it was quite fun and like the earlier multi person match it was better than the one’s the previous night, probably due to the fact that they have more time to work. Cody ended up countering Ospreay with a Disaster Kick from the top which looked cool and hit a wicked Cross Roads for the win.
Winners: Bullet Club at 16:01.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match
Billy Gunn vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c)
This was the match everyone was dreading with the zero expectations and you know what? It wasn’t bad. I mean it wasn’t anything spectacular but it wasn’t a bad match, it was what it needed to be and it exceeded expectations. There was a spot where Tanahashi pulled down Gunn’s pants showing his neon green tights, and a spot where Gunn showed us Tanahashi’s ass, could have done without that but hey he is the ass man. Gunn really worked the arm of Tanahahsi and hit the One and Only and a Fameasser but Tanahashi kicked out and eventually got the High Fly Flow for the win.
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi at 14:25.
IWGP United States Championship Match
Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks vs. Tomohiro Ishii
This was a fantastic match. The big spot was Omega trying a dragon suplex to Ishii from the apron through a table and Ishii fighting it off to the point where he was biting the top rope. Omega eventually hit it and it looked as every bit of dangerous as it sounds. Both men hit each other’s finishers on one another. Kenny fought back with a ton of V Trigger knee strikes but Ishii just wouldn’t stay down even kicking out at 1 near the end of the match. Omega eventually hits the One Winged Angel for 3.
Winner and first ever IWGP United States Champion: Kenny Omega at 31:21.
After the match Cody snagged the belt from Omega and they teased a breakup but the two ended up hugging. The rest of the Bullet Club, even Haku, came out and they all celebrated. Omega got on the microphone and said that they are piloting the ship and NJPW didn’t believe in them and booked a 2,000 seat venue when it should have been a 20,000 seat venue. Next year New Japan will be back bigger and better than ever. Goodbye and goodnight. By the way, big credit to Ishii for that match, he’s one of the best in the world at putting people over and making them look awesome, great company guy.
I think having Kenny Omega as the inaugural United States Champion is the right call. I believe the title will be seen quite a bit in ROH which means more ROH dates for Kenny which is good for everyone and obviously with his visa issue straightened out it just makes sense. Omega is the biggest star not in WWE, probably bigger than many in WWE too, and if NJPW wants to make headway in the US having your biggest international star in America, with the US title is the way to go. Does NJPW has too many titles? Yeah probably but the one thing they do a good job of is keeping them all important. Nobody is really without a title feud at any point and each belt is different in it’s own way.
Overall I’d say it was a successful first trip to the US. The night on AXS had a few production miscues and JR/Barnett were a little more settled in on night two. Night two was also better in that there were no commercials, I’d imagine first time viewers found a 4 hour show pretty tough to sit through. But you had one night main evented by Okada and the second by Omega, both winning which shows everyone who their top guys are. You also had some good storytelling with Omega and Cody so it will be fun to see where that goes.
Up next is the G1 Climax which starts up on July 17, let’s quickly preview the blocks.
Bad Luck Fale, Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Yoshi-Hashi
Michael Elgin, Evil, Satoshi Kojima, Kazuchika, Okada, Kenny Omega, Juice Robinson, Sanada, Minoru Suzuki, Tama Tonga, and Toru Yano
A lot of people are thinking Okada wins and picks to face Omega since he was unable to beat him last time and I’d expect will lose to him in the G1. That’s definitely a possibility. I believe the only realistic winners would be Okada, Omega, and Naito. Having said that, there’s a lot of potentially great matches in this starting with Omega/Okada which will only go 30 minutes at most. In addition to that, Sabre/Naito/Ibushi, really any combination of those 3 I’m all in on. A lot of people are looking forward to Omega/Suzuki which is a fun clash of styles and characters. I also think Okada/Elgin has some good potential as well. Until then please follow me on Twitter at Eddyc85 and or PIWShow, chec out my podcast which will feature a new episode this week about the G1 Special it’s called the, “Politically Incorrect Wrestling Show” found on iTunes, Stitcher, and Podbean.