1. Timesplitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA) vs. Taichi and Taka Michinoku
The winners of this match will face the Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero and Alex Kozlov) for the IWGP Jr. tag team championships at a later date, probably at the October iPPV. Starts off with some great back and forth between Shelly and Michinoku. Shelley and KUSHIDA do some great stereo moves including a double dive off the top rope. Taichi turns it into a brawl by laying out Shelly with some steel chairs, allowing the heels to work on KUSHIDA. He starts to fight back with some great comeback moves. You know, KUSHIDA could be a really great singles star if he ever breaks out of the tag team pack. Shelley with a great suicide dive, and KUSHIDA follows with a senton but lands on Shelley by accident, allowing Taka to hit a great springboard moonsault. Turns into a back and forth affair before Shelley and KUSHIDA hit a inverted DDT/moonsault combination for the two count. Pretty good opener if you ignore the fact Forever Hooligans and Timesplitters are going to face each other again for the 352nd time this year. Not much depth to this division but no bad matches either. ***
Evil Foreigner Bruce Tharpe introduces Jushin Liger and Rob Conway, both with edited out music for this next match. In between the silence he mentioned America was ichiban. People booed.
2. NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Rob Conway (c) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
Some back and forth brawling early with Conway doing some of his poses for heel heat. Liger gets the better of him and ducks out of the ring, only for Liger to bounce off the ropes and jumps off the apron with a running senton to the outside. Conway doesn't like that one bit and begins brawling on the outside with Liger, at one point rubbing his face into the NWA title saying he'll never have it. You know, one would think Rob Conway in 2013 New Japan is out of his element but he's perfectly fine here as the foreign heel. Liger comes back and even hits the Liger Bomb followed by a splash off the top for a near fall, followed by a brainbuster for another near fall. Liger goes for a move off the top, but Bruce Tharpe climbs on the apron and distracts Liger, allowing Conway to attack Liger but he misses. Liger and Tharpe argue on the outside and Liger shoves Tharpe down to the ground. This gives Conway the opportunity he needs to attack Liger again, successfully this time, by laying him out with the Ego Trip and scoring the pinfall, retaining the championship. Was good while it lasted, but way too short to be anything really meaningful. **
3. Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale and Rey Bucanero) vs. Togi Makabe, Mascara Dorada, Tomoaki Honma and Captain New Japan
The big mean guys (Fale and Makabe) start things off. Lots of power moves and chokes. Anderson and Homna find their way him and they duke it out for a bit before Captain New Japan is tagged in but quickly finds himself at the mercy of Anderson and Tama Tonga. Tonga and Bucanero do a sick double move- Tonga lifts up CNJPW while Bucanero launches off with a corkscrew senton. CNJPW finds himself at the mercy of Bullet Club while the various members lay him out until he finally scores some offense against Karl Anderson and tags in Makabe, who cleans house. Makabe is in for a while, but Anderson lays him out with a spinebuster and tags in Tama Tonga. Makabe manages to tag in Honma and they go with some great back and forth. I find it very hard to believe Homana was a death match grappler at one point in his career. Homna flies off with a flying headbutt, but Tonga dodges and tags in Bucanero. Homna tags in Mascara Dorada and it's lucha time! They do some lucha including a one legged springboard dive by Dorada on Bucanero which was pretty damn fly. Anderson runs over and decks Dorada with a clothesline and throws him back into the ring as the heels lay all their moves on Dorada. It turns into a messy brawl, but Dorada and Bucanero still find themselves as the legal men and Dorada scored the pinfall with a rollup. Very fun while it lasted, everyone did their part well by displaying all their different styles. Being different is accepted in New Japan! ***
4. Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano
This stems from last month when Yano cost Suzuki the G1 finals and promptly kicked his ass afterwards. Suzuki in full ass kicking mode to start on the outside, but Yano fights back and even dumps the contents of a water bottle all over Suzuki. Suzuki has none of that and starts attacking Yano with tape while yelling at the referee. They go back and forth, surprisingly, with Yano trying to do his RVD chant with Suzuki fighting back each time he does it. Suzuki puts Yano in a deep armbar that eventually he fights his way out of. Yano recoils on the outside and Suzuki follows, but Yano fights back with a steel chair and eventually finds handcuffs. He tries to apply them on Suzuki on a steel barricade but Suzuki has none of it and retaliates, throwing Yano into the barricade. He applies another armbar, applying the handcuffs on Yano. Suzuki uses the free arm to lay in a few punches on Yano and gains offense. More brawling on the outside, with Suzuki dumping a water bottle on Yano, but Yano counters by spraying Suzuki in the face with water and somehow freeing himself. He handcuffs Suzuki on the barricade and runs to the ring as Suzuki is counted out. After the match, it's revealed Yano had the key all along! Yup, the bitter feud between these two has not come to an end yet. Though, I have to be honest- I liked this way more than I should in terms of comedy, but this match was not much. *3/4
5. Laughter 7 (Katsuyori Shibata and Kazushi Sakuraba) vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata
Sakuraba and Nagata start off with some shoot style striking and rope breaks. Shibata is tagged him and things pick up when Nagata slaps Shibata and they start trading some rather more aggressive striking. Shibata with the scary running dropkick to the corner. Sakuraba is tagged in and strikes Nagata, knocking him down. Nakanishi drags Nagata over to their side of the ring and tags in as he starts attacking Sakuraba. Sakuraba fights back with a sleeper but is no match for Nakanishi's power. Shibata tags in and they double team with some strikes. Shibata puts Nakanishi in an indian death lock but he grabs the rope. Shibata counters with another submission, the figure four leglock, and this time Nakanishi is in it for a good while before finally reaching the ropes. Laughter 7 are still in control, hitting a double suplex but Nakanishi finds the strength to lay them both out with a double clothesline. Nagata is tagged back in but after being distracted by Sakuraba is attacked from behind by Shibata. Shibata tags in Sakuraba and they begin striking each other wildly. Nagata with a suplex followed by a crossface. Nakanishi grabs Shibata and puts him in a torture rack but Shibata powers out of it and breaks up the submission. Nagata and Sakuraba exchange some roll ups before Sakuraba gets the 3 count. After the match Sakuraba offers to shake Nagata's hand but Nagata balks. Sakuraba responds by striking Nagata and they end up in a wild brawl with all four men still going at it. The referee and the young boys eventually break it up as this feud is far from over. Pretty fun bout with some fun stiff stuff from Nagata and Sakuraba. ***1/4
Intermission! Not that many wacky commercials, just talking and hype for the rest of the card.
6. Lumberjack Match: Prince Devitt vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Devitt is followed by all the members of Bullet Club, who will indeed be his lumberjacks in this match. I just have to say this as well- Devitt's jacket trumps Jerichos any day of the week. Way more colorful, y'know? Tanahashi comes to the ring with Captian New Japan, Tiger Mask IV, Togi Makabe, and Tomoaki Homna, so pretty much the dudes from the eight man. Devitt looks to use crutch early but Tanahashi throws it out before he can attack. Some back and forth before Devitt kicks Tanahashi and he falls out of the ring and to the floor, where all the members of Bullet Club immediately attack Devitt, including dropping him on the barricade back first. Devitt hits a running dropkick on Tanahashi and soon is in control. The heel lumberjacks outnumber the face lumberjacks, so every time the faces try and help Tanahashi it's to no avail. Devitt is in control early on, but Tanahashi starts fighting back, bumping members of the Bullet Club and getting his comeback on Devitt. He goes for the high fly low, but Devitt bails. So Tanahashi turns around and high fly lows all of Bullet Club. Devitt uses this oppertunity to flee, but Makabe grabs him, lifts him up on his shoulder and carries him back to the ring. Tanahashi goes for another high fly low, but Devitt uses the knees and is once again in control, putting Tanahashi in a tree of woe position and taking out the faces with a dive to the outside. Anderson grabs Tanahashi and powerbombs him onto the apron as Devitt lays in his flying foot stomp...for a two count. Anderson throws in a chair but the referee argues with him. Suddenly, Devitt has a guitar and whacks Tanahashi with it followed by a Bloody Sunday DDT for a two count. Then a barrage of near falls with assists, attempted ref bumps, succesful ref bumps, and a brawl featuring all the lumberjacks ensue. Once everything settles down, Tanahashi hits the Styles Clash followed by the high fly low for the three count. This was a fun bout in terms of all the wackiness going on involving Bullet Club and Tanahashi's pals, but that's the bulk of Devitt's matches as of late- it's good fun and something different from everything else on the card in terms of constant interference, but that makes the matches decent at most due to it happening so often during the match. **3/4
7. NEVER Championship: Masato Tanaka (c) vs. Testuya Naito
If Naito wins, he wins the NEVER championship. If Tanaka wins, he gets Naito's IWGP title opportunity at the Tokyo Dome card in January. Some fun back and forth early, then quickly turns into a fistfight. Tanaka takes it to the outside and starts using weapons, including a kendo stick and he strikes right on top of Naito's head. Fun. Tanaka follows that up with a hard water bottle shot. Naito rolls into the ring and from there Tanaka is in control. Naito starts to fight back and we get more punches, this time with Naito getting the advantage, but once he hits the ropes Tanaka immediately fires back with a lariat. From there they exchange more offense, with Naito showcasing his quickness in the ring. Naito goes for a top rope move but Tanaka counters and tries to go for a superplex but to no avail. He dumps Naito to the apron and when he pops up drills him with a lariat to the outside. Tanaka meets him down there and sets up a table, launching off with a big splash onto Naito, sending him crashing into the table. Tanaka hits a series of clotheslines back in the ring for good measure and this time does indeed hit a superplex off the top rope followed by a brainbuster but only gets two. He goes for the sliding D but Naito counters it with a rollup. Naito goes to the top rope and hits a missile dropkick followed by a hurricanrana off the top rope. Tanaka powers back in starts firing back with some offense, including hitting the sliding D, but still only a two count. He goes for a third sliding D but Naito this time counters with a wacky looking submission. Tanaka manages to escape, then they come back firing with some punches and even a few headbutts. Naito wins out and hits both a German and Dragon suplex, but still can't finish Tanaka off. Finally, he hits Gloria followed by the Stardust Press and wins the NEVER championship. Very good match- it hasn't been as apparent until recently but Naito's coming back to form after the knee injury and it showed in this match. ***3/4
After the match, Yujiro comes out and cuts a promo, presumably challenging Naito for the Tokyo Dome title match opportunity. Naito's all for it.
8. IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin
Shelton immediately charges after Nakamura after his introduction and we're off. It quickly goes to the outside where Nakamura is throws over the barricade and into the crowd. Benjamin follows that by throwing Nakamura back first into the ring post then attacks the announcer just because, I guess. Shelton puts the boots to Nakamura but he soon starts to fight back with an enziguri, and soon they're going back and forth. Benjamin hits a superkick followed by a German for a nearfall. He goes for the stinger splash, but Nakamura ducks and Benjamin finds himself in the tree of woe position as Nakamura gives him the shaking boot in the corner. Benjamin crawls away as Nakamura charges, but Benjamin puts him in the ankle lock. Benjamin lets go, goes to the top and hits the blockbuster, then goes for Paydirt but Nakamura counters with the backbreaker. He climbs to the top rope, but you never do that with Shelton as he jumps to the top rope and hits the belly to belly off the top turnbuckle. Benjamin goes for the Paydirt again but Nakamura counters with a knee lariat followed by two boma ye’s for the pinfall. This felt kind of short and never got to the same level as their previous matches, but still very fun. ***1/4
After the match, none other than Naomichi Marufuji from NOAH comes to the ring to challenge Shinsuke Nakamura for the IC title. Nakamura accepts, so that's the next IC title program, which can only be lots and lots of fun.
9. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima
Some chain wrestling to start things. Okada starts some offense but Kojima quickly has none of that and starts the offensive on Okada early. He misses a springboard elbow and that gives Okada the opportunity to fight back with an elbow. They find themselves on the outside and Okada uses the barricade to choke out Kojima. Back in the ring, Okada hits a springboard senton and does a flippant cover that the referee doesn't even bother to count. Okada continues on the offensive including a body scissors submission that Kojima is able to break out of. Kojima fires back and starts doing his 2035 chops in the corner. Okada catches him, lays him out and hits his elbow as he goes for the Rainmaker but Kojima quickly counters with a DDT. They exchange punches for a good while before Kojima staggers back, but then punches Okada so hard he falls to the floor. Okada gets back up, but Kojima punches him again. Okada goes to the top rope, but Kojima lays in some more punches before clotheslining him off the top rope and onto the floor, a move that is probably never fun to take. Kojima throws him back in and hits a diamond cutter then puts Okada up and drills him with a diamond cutter off the top rope, only getting two. Okada briefly fights back, but Kojima chops him down and applies the anaconda vice on the floor. Okada powers back up, only for Kojima to slam him back on the mat. Okada finally breaks free as Kojima climbs to the top as Okada launches off with a dropkick that now sends Kojima to the outside and onto the floor! Okada follows it up with a DDT off the barricade as Okada rolls back into the ring, hoping for a count out but Kojima crawls in at 18. Okada applies the Red Ink submission but breaks free, leading Okada to attempt the tombstone but Kojima blocks and counters with a side slam followed by a brainbuster. Kojima goes for the lariat, but Okada blocks and hits the tombstone but Kojima ducks and goes for the lariat, but Okada dodges and goes for the Rainmaker again, only for Kojima to clock Okada with the lariat! He goes for another, but Okada counters with a dropkick, quickly picks up Kojima and lays him out with the Rainmaker for the pinfall to retain the IWGP championship. Great main event with a really hot finishing sequence. ****1/4
After the match and the awards ceremony that followed, Gedo and Okada are cutting a promo when Hiroshi Tanahashi comes out, and it looks like that will be the big main event for the next iPPV in October.
Overall, this was a good but not great show. Not a bad match on the card, but nothing blow away awesome either. I would say it's definitely better than Night of Champions, but a lot of the G1 shows were better. This did do a good job of setting up the October PPV- it looks like it will be Marufuji/Nakamura, Yujiro/Naito and Okada/Tanahashi. A lot of people might groan at the thought of the latter going at it again, but considering every one of their matches this year was ****+ I don't think anyone should be complaining for too long.
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