One of the most anticipated dates on the pro wrestling calender is here as New Japan Pro Wrestling's annual Tokyo Dome show takes place tonight.
Kenny Omega will defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event. Tanahashi won last year's G1 Climax to get the title shot.
In the semi-main event, Tetsuya Naito challenges for Chris Jericho's IWGP Intercontinental title. A no disqualification stipulation has been added to the match, with Jericho powerbombing Naito through a table in an angle at their contract signing.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White, KUSHIDA vs. Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Cody vs. Juice Robinson for the IWGP US title, two triple threat Tag Team title matches, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the RevPro British Heavyweight Championship, and Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight title round out the main card.
A pre-show gauntlet match with teams facing off to determine the number one contenders for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team titles will start things off at 2 a.m. Eastern time. The show is airing live on New Japan World with English and Japanese commentary available. The event is also available on iPPV via Fite TV.
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, TOGI MAKABE & TORU YANO WON THE NEVER 6-MAN NO. 1 CONTENDER GAUNTLET MATCH
First Fall: Yuji Nagata, David Finlay & Jeff Cobb defeated Yujiro Takahashi, Hangman Page & Marty Scurll
Nagata and Scurll began with some mat work. Scurll teased the finger break spot, but Nagata countered it with a kick to the hamstring and an inverted figure four. Cobb got a tag, and Scurll's team tripled up on him.
Page hit a standing shooting star in the ring, a shooting star off the apron, and a buckshot lariat for a two count. Cobb came back with a fallaway slam, and tagged Finlay. Page tagged in Yujiro. Yujiro hit a fisherman buster for a nearfall.
Finlay hit a uranage, but Owens tripped him from the floor. Yujiro accidentally crashed into Owens, and Finlay rolled up Yujiro to win the first fall. They teased dissension between Page and his teammates after they were eliminated.
Second Fall: Yuji Nagata, David Finlay & Jeff Cobb defeated Beretta, Chuckie T & Hirooki Goto
Like most Beretta matches, they did a million intricate spots early. That's not a knock, I'm always blown away by what he comes up with.
Chuckie hit a tope con hilo, and Beretta hit an Asai moonsault. Goto hit an ushigoroshi on Nagata for a nearfall.
Nagata ht an exploder and a belly-to-belly on Beretta, then both tagged out. Cobb hit a tour of the islands and a standing moonsault on Goto for a nearfall.
Finlay and Chuckie got tags. Finlay hit a back elbow. Chuckie hit a piledriver for a nearfall. Chuckie missed a top rope moonsault, and Finlay rolled him up for the pin.
Third Fall: Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer defeated Yuji Nagata, David Finlay & Jeff Cobb
Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell, as they have done a time or two before. Suzuki and Nagata traded strikes, and it was glorious. Cobb and Smith got tags. Cobb missed a standing moonsault, and Smith used a Saito suplex for a nearfall. Suzuki and Nagata continued to go at it on the outside. Archer got a tag, and Smith and Archer hit the killer bomb on Finlay for the pin.
Fourth Fall: Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano defeated Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer
Suzuki-gun attacked Taguchi's team in the aisle as they entered. Suzuki, Smith and Archer beat down Taguchi in the ring. Archer did the rope walk spot. Taguchi missed a hip attack, but tagged Makabe.
Makabe ran wild with ten punches in the corner. Makabe and Suzuki traded strikes. Suzuki got the upper hand. Makabe made a tag to Yano, who kicked out of several double team moves from Smith and Archer.
The match broke down and everyone went nuts. Taguchi hit Suzuki with a short hip attack to the stomach, and Suzuki sold it, which was quite something.
The finish saw Yano hit Smith with a low blow, and he rolled him up for the pin.
WILL OSPREAY DEFEATED KOTA IBUSHI TO WIN THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (18:15)
Insane. There were many, many flips, but perhaps not as many as you might have expected coming in. They had a very hard-hitting match, and both guys took a lot of shots to the head.
Ospreay hit a monkey flip for the first bit of offense that connected. Ibushi hit a dropkick. He went for the golden triangle, but Ospreay kicked him out of mid-air, then connected with a space flying tiger drop.
The pace slowed, and Ospreay decided to strike with Ibushi. Ibushi hit a snap rana, and Ospreay rolled to the floor. Ibushi hit a corkscrew moonsault, bouncing from the top rope to the floor. He followed with a springboard dropkick. Ibushi hit a bridging german for a nearfall.
Ospreay used a surprise cradle out of nowhere for a nearfall. Ibushi and Ospreay exchanged kicks. Ibushi hit a powerslam, but Ospreay no-sold it, and hit a cheeky nandos kick. They exchanged strikes again, and Ibushi dropped Ospreay with a palm to the chest.
Ospreay slipped out of a last ride attempt, they did a crazy series of counters and reversals, and Ospreay finally connected with a standing spanish fly. Ospreay kicked Ibushi in the head. Ibushi slipped out of a storm breaker.
Ibushi hit a bomaye, blasting Ospreay in the head with his knee. Ibushi used a last ride for a nearfall. Ospreay tied Ibushi to the tree of woe, and kicked him in the head repeatedly. Ibushi was bleeding from the nose and mouth.
Ospreay teased a top rope storm breaker, but Ibushi escaped and hit a double stomp on the top rope. Ibushi went for a german off the second rope, but Ospreay escaped. Ospreay hit a Robinson special, but Ibushi blocked an Oscutter, and hit a german for a nearfall.
Ibushi went for kamigoye, but Ospreay escaped. Ospreay hit a huge lariat. Ibushi hit a spike package piledriver for a nearfall. Ospreay landed right on his head on that one.
Ospreay hit another shot, an elbow right to the back of the head, then hit the storm breaker for the pin.
This seemed like an angle to me, but they took Ibushi out of the ring on a back board.
SHINGO TAKAGI & BUSHI DEFEATED YOSHINOBU KANEMARU & EL DESPERADO, SHO & YOH TO WIN THE IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (6:54)
All action match. A complete sprint. I wonder if they had their time cut?
Kanemaru and Desperado jumped everyone before the bell. SHO and YOH made a quick comeback and hit stereo dives to the floor. SHO and Shingo traded strikes, and the crowd was really into it.
SHO and YOH hit Shingo with some tandem offense. Kanemaru tried to spit whiskey, but escpaed.
Shingo hit a pair of pumping bombers on SHO for a nearfall. BUSHI did a dive to the floor on YOH, taking him out.
Shingo hit SHO with last of the dragon, and picked up the pin.
ZACK SABRE JR. DEFEATED TOMOHIRO ISHII TO WIN THE RPW BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSIP (11:38)
This ruled. I could have used another five, ten, thirty minutes of this. The story of the match was Sabre working over Ishii's arms so he couldn't hit him with his lariat and brainbuster.
Sabre hit an uppercut, and Ishii countered with a suplex. Sabre applied an armbar, looking to make good on his threat to tap Ishii out in under a minute. Ishii reached the ropes, thwarting him.
Sabre stomped on Ishii's right arm, which was heavily wrapped. Sabre taunted Ishii with some short kicks to the chest, and used his legs to apply a head and arm choke on the ground. Ishii again rolled to the ropes.
Sabre used a northern lights, then switched ot an ankle lock. Ishii escaped, and applied an ankle lock of his own. Ishii hit a lariat in the corner. Sabre tried to apply a guillotine, but Ishii suplexed out of it. Ishii hit a superplex, but Sabre hooked Ishii's arm on the landing, then torqued on it with his legs.
Sabre continued to work on the right arm with stomps and a wristlock. They did a crazy sequence of reversals and misdirections, ending with Sabre applying the octopus. Ishii slipped out after a struggle.
They exchanged shots, and Ishii hit a headbutt to the chest. Ishii hit a lariat for a two count. Ishii teased a brainbuster, but Sabre escaped. Ishii went for the brainbuster again, but Sabre jumped into a guillotine.
Sabre transitioned to an octopus, then a double arm octopus, and Ishii submitted.
EVIL & SANADA DEFEATED TAMA TONGA & TANGA LOA, THE YOUNG BUCKS TO WIN THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (10:16)
Another all action match. Good stuff, but could have used a few more minutes. I'm sure the top two matches will need a ton of time, but if there's ever a time for a six hour show, it's today.
EVIL and SANADA started on the apron, as Tonga and Nick started off the legal men. EVIL and Matt got tags, and EVIL sent Matt to the floor, then hit a running lariat on the ramp. Matt sold his back.
The Bucks hit a sequence of tandem offense on EVIL and SANADA. SANADA went down to the floor, selling. Matt and EVIL were the legal men. Nick hit an incredible springboard dive off the top rope to the floor, while Matt used a sharpshooter on EVIL. Loa came in to break it up, but Tonga stopped him, as they are selling the idea that they have turned over a new leaf this year.
EVIL tagged SANADA, who tied Matt up in the paradise lock. SANADA hit three pescados. Nick missed a dive to the floor, and SANADA hit his fourth consecutive pescado on to both Bucks.
It was pure bedlam from here.
SANADA applied skull end to Matt. Nick broke it up. Tonga hit a Tongan twist. EVIL and SANADA hit a magic killer. Matt hit a spear. They did a stacked up superplex spot, and Nick hit a 450 to SANADA.
Jado jumped in with a kendo stick, but Fale stopped him from interfering. Jado ate a double superkick. EVIL lariated Fale to the floor. SANADA hit a springboard into a superkick by the Bucks. Tonga hit a gun stun. EVIL and SANADA hit Matt with a magic killer, and SANADA hit a moonsault for the pin.
JUICE ROBINSON DEFEATED CODY TO WIN THE IWGP UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP (9:04)
Not a good night for you if there's no guarantee that you're going to be in the territory in a month.
This was decisive. They built the match around the fact that they've wrestled in big matches before, so they knew each other's moves, and tried to steal each other's finishers.
Cody and Brandi's gear was Jacksonville Jaguars themed.
Cody attempted a belt shot before the bell, but Juice ducked it. Juice took control early. Juice hit a juice box. He went to the top, but Brandi laid on top of Cody, and Juice wouldn't jump on her. That allowed Cody to take over.
Cody went for a delayed vertical. Juice escaped. Cody took the ref, allowing Brandi to jump in and hit Juice with a spear. Referee Tiger Hattori ejected Brandi from ringside for that.
Cody used the distraction of Brandi's ejection to hit cross Rhodes for a nearfall. Cody escaped pulp friction. Cody went for cross Rhodes, but Juice reversed it into one of his own for a nearfall.
Cody hit a disaster kick, then hit pulp friction for a nearfall. Cody took off his weight belt and whipped Juice with it. Cody slapped Juice and taunted him, and Juice fired up. Juice hit his series of jabs, but Cody cut off the left hand of god with a superkick.
Cody went for another disaster kick, but Juice hit him with left hand of god twice. Juice hit two pulp frictions for the decisive win.
TAIJI ISHIMORI DEFEATED KUSHIDA TO WIN THE IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (11:20)
This won't do anything to squash those KUSHIDA to WWE rumors. A good match, and probably the first match all night that didn't feel rushed in the slightest.
KUSHIDA did a Back to the Future themed entrance involving a child wearing a KUSHIDA mask that was absolutely terrifying in its realism.
KUSHIDA attacked Ishimori's left arm with a kick at the outset. Ishimori recovered, and took over. He used a crossface, but KUSHIDA reached the ropes. Ishimori hit a seated senton. KUSHIDA came back with strikes, but Ishimori hit a sliding german.
Ishimori went for a 450, but KUSHIDA hit a flying armbar, then transitioned through a series of holds, ending with a kimura. Ishimori did some power stuff. He went for a lungblower, but KUSHIDA slipped out, and hit a ref-assisted kick.
KUSHIDA got rolling. He went for back to the future, but Ishimori countered with a lungblower, connecting this time. He went for the bloody cross, but KUSHIDA turned it into a hoverboard lock. Ishimori fought for the ropes, then slipped out and hit a DVD into a double down.
Ishimori hit double knees in the corner, then hit the bloody cross for the pin.
SWITCHBLADE JAY WHITE DEFEATED KAZUCHIKA OKADA (14:21)
Trunks for Okada. No more fancy slacks.
Hypothetically, if Kenny Omega's future in NJPW is uncertain, Tanahashi is going to need someone to work with on top. Someone like Switchblade.
I am beyond surprised that this didn't go longer, but it was excellent.
Okada hit a running low dropkick to White's neck. Okada hit the ropes, Gedo tripped him, and White launched him into the corner pad. White suplexed Okada over the top to the floor.
White sent Okada into the security fence and the ring frame, repeatedly. Back inside, White hit a Saito suplex for a two count. White worked over Okada's head and neck. This turned into a slap fight. Okada hit a pair of running back elbows, and hit a DDT for a two count.
Okada placed White on the top, then dropkicked him to the floor. White sold his leg. Okada sent White and Gedo over the security fence, then hit a running crossbody over the fence to the floor.
Back inside, Okada hit a top rope elbow. Okada hit his rainmaker pose. White popped up, hit a suplex, then hit a uranage for a two count. White went for the blade runner, but Okada slipped out.
Gedo took the ref, while White swung and missed with a chair. Okada hit Gedo with a dropkick, then hit one on White. Okada went for the rainmaker, but White turned it into a lariat. White hit a kiwi crusher for a nearfall. Okada hit a tombstone into a double down.
Both men sold exhaustion. White ducked a lariat and stepped away from a dropkick. White went for a blade runner, but Okada whipped him into the ropes, then hit a dropkick.
They did an insane series of finisher reversals, ending with Okada hitting a rainmaker. Okada went for a second rainmaker, but White reversed it into a blade runner, and got the 1-2-3.
TETSUYA NAITO DEFEATED CHRIS JERICHO IN A NO DQ MATCH TO WIN THE IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (22:36)
This felt like an unremarkable street fight to me until they got into trading finishers and finisher kickouts. It was excellent by the end.
Naito jumped Jericho during his entrance. They brawled aorund ringside, with Naito gaining the upper hand. Naito hit a piledriver on the ramp. In the ring, Naito continued his assault with a turnbuckle pad and a flying headscissors.
Naito went for a suicide dive, but Jericho whacked him with a kendo stick. Jericho went after Naito with the stick in the ring. Jericho stomped on Naito's throat, then sent him to the floor with a springboard dropkick.
Jericho hit a vertical suplex on the floor, then followed up with a DDT on a table. Back iniside, Jericho hit a high cross off the top for a nearfall. Jericho posed and taunted, then hit a lionsault for a two count.
Naito finally made a comeback, hitting a flying forearm, and a pair of neckbreakers. Naito went for the combinacion de cabron, but Jericho caught him coming in, and slapped on the walls of Jericho. The people were really into it here.
Naito flipped out of the walls. Jericho went for a codebreaker, but Naito turned it into a DDT. Naito hit gloria for a two count. Jericho got the walls again, but Naito grabbed a kendo stick, and fought Jericho off.
Naito hit several kendo stick shots. He went for another, but Jericho ducked, and hit a codebreaker for a nearfall. Jericho exposed a buckle.
Jericho tossed several chairs into the ring. Jericho hit Naito with chair shots, and Naito countered with a DDT onto the chairs. Naito hit a codebreaker of his own for a nearfall.
Naito went up top with a kendo stick, but Jericho threw a chair at him and cut him off. Jericho went for a superplex, but Naito hit a DDT on the chairs. Naito went for destino, but Jericho shoved him off into the ref, hit a low blow, and got a nearfall.
Jericho grabbed the title belt. He went for a belt shot, but Naito ducked. Jericho got sent into the exposed buckle, and Naito hit him with destino for a nearfall.
Naito hit a belt shot, then hit a second destino for the pin.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI DEFEATED KENNY OMEGA TO WIN THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (39:14)
A main event worthy of the biggest show of the year. A work of art. A masterpiece.
They began with some grappling. Omega backed Tana into the ropes, and broke cleanly, but Tana slapped him. Omega snapped, and got sloppy. Tana went to work on Omega's legs. He used a cradle for a nearfall.
Tana continued working the legs, and the two exchanged slaps to the face. Tana tied up Omega's legs, and Omega reached the ropes. Omega hit a knee lift and an elbow drop. Omega used stomps, then hit a backbreaker for a nearfall.
They exchanged forearms and chops, and Omega worked over Tana's back with kicks. They brawled to the floor. Tana hit a dropkick, but Omega took control. He slammed Tana into, and then over, the barricade. It looked like Tana caught his lower back on the edge of a table as he went over the barricade, which must have sucked.
Omega hit a moonsault off the barricade. Omega set up a table, but Tana cut him off, and sent him back in to the ring. Omega ducked Tana's slaps, but Tana connected with a flying forearm. Tana hit a dragon screw, then a second rope somersault senton for a two count.
Tana went for slingblade, but Omega cut him off, and hit a kotaro krusher. Tana rolled to the floor. Omega teased the terminator dive, but Tana cut him off. Omega hit a snap rana, sending Tana to the floor again.
Omega hit the rise of the terminator onto the ramp. Back inside, Omega hit a missile dropkick to Tana's back and shoulder. Omega hit a snap dragon, but Tana popped right up. Omega hit a second dragon, but Tana popped up again. Omega blasted him with a v-trigger.
Omega went for you can't escape, but tweaked his knee before executing the moonsault. With Omega perched on the top, Tana hit a dragon screw, as Omega sold the damage to his leg.
Tana hit twist and shout, then used a cloverleaf. Tana started to lose the hold, then transitioned to, and hit, a Styles clash. Tana went for high fly flow, but Omega got his knees up. Tana sat in the corner. Omega went for a v-trigger, but Tana escaped, and Omega's knee crashed into the corner pad.
Tana hooked Omega's leg over the middle rope and hit a dragon screw. Tana hit slingblade on the apron. Tana placed Omega on a table. He went for a high fly flow, but Omega moved, and Tana crashed through the table.
Omega wouldn't take a countout victory, and rolled Tana back inside. Omega hit a double stomp as Tana was draped over the middle rope. Omega hit a series of powerbombs for a series of nearfalls.
Omega went for a v-trigger, but Tana countered with a slingblade. They did a double down, both men selling exhaustion.
They exchanged strikes and slaps. Tana slipped on a strike, and Omega hit him with a knee to the ribs. Omega hit a slingblade, then hit a high fly flow, but Tana kicked out at one.
Omega hit a v-trigger, and both men dropped to the mat. Omega was first up. They traded strikes. Omega hit a short v-trigger. He went for another, but Tana hit a low dropkick to the knee. Omega countered with a reverse rana.
Tana rolled to the ropes, and Omega nailed him with a v-trigger. Omega went for the one-winged angel, but Tana countered with a reverse rana of his own. Tana hit a dragon suplex for a two count.
Tana hit a high fly flow to a standing Omega. He followed with another, but Omega kicked out.
Tana went up top, and Omega hit a v-trigger while Tana climbed the ropes. Omega hit a dragon suplex off the top. Insanity.
Omega hit a v-trigger. He went for a one-winged angel, but Tana flipped out of it. Tana hit slingblade.
Tana went to the top, and hit high fly flow. This time, it was enough. 1-2-3.
Easily the best match on the show.
Tanahashi cut a promo after the match thanking his friends, the fans, and promising a new era. He played some air guitar, despite his exhaustion. He again thanked the fans, closing the show.