NJPW is back in the United States tonight at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York for their Fighting Spirit Unleashed tour.
A tag team match pitting rivals will headline in the main event. Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi will team together to take on SANADA and EVIL, their respective opponents for King of Pro Wrestling next month.
KENTA will also be defending his NEVER Openweight championship. He will defend against YOSHI-HASHI, who has taken offense to KENTA’s recent actions.
The rest of the card will feature tag team matches. Most notably, Hiroshi Tanahashi will team with The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to take on the Los Ingobernables team of Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi and BUSHI.
Amazing Red will also be part of the tour, teaming with Tomohiro Ishii and Hirooki Goto to take on Jay White, Chase Owens and Gedo. Mikey Nicholls also returns, teaming with Juice Robinson to take on the LA Dojo young lions Alex Coughlin and Clark Connors.
Join us for live coverage starting at 7 p.m. EST.
After an interminable delay, the opening video package started at 8:26 Eastern.
Can we skip the videos when we're almost 90 minutes late starting?
We got the opening bell at 8:31.
TJP DEFEATED REN NARITA
Both chain-wrestled to a stalemate. Both missed on dropkick attempts. Narita dared TJP to chop him. TJP did an elaborate warmup as if he were setting up for a chop, but hit a dropkick instead, which got great heat.
TJP hit a slingshot senton. They exchanged uppercut forearms. TJP hit a vertical suplex, then a back suplex. He went to the top for a swanton bomb, but missed. Narita hit an overhead belly-to-belly throw for a two count.
Narita teased a belly-to-belly, but TJP blocked it. Narita used a Narita Special, then rolled through into a full crab. TJP reached the ropes.
Narita again tried a belly-to-belly, but TJP blocked, then used a cobra twist. He then slipped to a TJP Clutch, but Narita reached the ropes.
They traded strikes. Narita hit a dropkick. He again tried for a belly-to-belly, but TJP blocked it, then dropped down into a kneebar. Narita rolled through into a cradle for a two count.
TJP hit a TKO for a nearfall, then used the TJP Clutch for the submission. A good opener.
LANCE ARCHER DEFEATED KARL FREDERICKS
Archer hit a shoulder block on Fredericks as he entered, then tried a second cheap shot at the opening bell. Fredericks fought it off, then hit a plancha.
Archer quickly cut him off, sent him into the barricade, then hit a scoop slam on the floor. Back inside, they exchanged chops. Archer no-sold all of Fredericks's offense. Archer used his rope-walk spot, then hit a springboard moonsault press for a nearfall.
Fredericks made a comeback. He hit a vertical suplex, then used his diving chop for a one count. Fredericks fought for a single-leg crab, but Archer blocked it.
Archer hit a pounce, then hit a chokeslam for a nearfall. Fredericks used a victory roll for a nearfall. Archer hit another chokeslam. He made a cover, but pulled Fredericks up before the 3 count.
Archer then used the EBD Claw. He pushed Fredericks to the mat with it, and pinned him. This had its moments early, but dragged a bit after Fredericks started the comeback.
JUICE ROBINSON & MIKEY NICHOLLS DEFEATED ALEX COUGHLIN & CLARK CONNORS
Nicholls and Coughlin started out. Coughlin hit a nice dropkick, and both tagged out. Connors and Coughlin used an illegal double team to gain the advantage over Juice, then used quick tags.
Coughlin hit a suplex for a nearfall, then hit a hard chop. Connors and Coughlin hit a tandem hip toss. The crowd started to get restless the longer this portion of the match went.
Juice came back with a leg lariat, then made a hot tag to Nicholls. Both Juice and Nicholls ran wild, and hit tandem offense on Connors. Connors came back with chops on both, then hit both with spears and powerslams.
Coughlin and Connors applied full crabs to Juice and Nicholls. Juice and Nicholls grabbed hands, and broke the holds. Coughlin hit a fallaway slam into a bridge on Nicholls for a two count.
Nicholls hit a DVD, then used a sliding lariat on Coughlin for a two count.
Juice jumped in and took out an interfering Connors with jabs. Nicholls then hit a Mikey Bomb on Coughlin and scored the pin.
I think Coughlin was the best guy in this match.
TAMA TONGA, TANGA LOA & JADO DEFEATED SHO, YOH & ROCKY ROMERO
This was better than the previous match.
YOH and Jado started off. Jado broke cleanly against the ropes. YOH did the same. YOH hit some chops, and Jado did a Flair flop. Tonga and Loa jumped in at that point. They dragged YOH outside, then pulled on his nipples.
Tonga and Loa took turns working over YOH. Tonga hit a nice dropkick. YOH finally made a hot tag to SHO, who hit Loa with a spear, then a deadlift German. Loa cut him off with a powerslam, then tagged Tonga.
Tonga hit a gun stun. SHO hit a back suplex. Romero got a tag, and hit a hurricanrana. Jado jumped in, and Romero poked him in the eyes.
Romero hit forever clotheslines on Jado and Tonga. Loa jumped in and cut him off with a knee strike. Loa hit a back suplex, and Tonga covered Romero for a two count.
G.O.D. teased a Magic Killer, but SHO jumped in for a save. SHO blocked a gun stun. SHO and YOH hit stereo knees on G.O.D.
SHO and YOH teased a 3K on Tonga, but he cut SHO off with a gun stun. Loa jumped in and took out YOH.
Romero and Tonga were left the legal men. Loa and Tonga hit Romero with a tandem gun stun, and Tonga pinned Romero.
Tiger Hattori came out to ref the next match. He got a nice ovation and a "thank you Tiger" chant.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, RICKY MORTON & ROBERT GIBSON DEFEATED TETSUYA NAITO, SHINGO TAKAGI & BUSHI
The crowd willed this to be a great match. Technically, it was nothing. From a nostalgia and fun perspective, it was everything.
Tanahashi and Shingo started off. Tana hit a crossbody, then tagged Ricky, who hit a knee lift. Tana hit a senton, and he and Ricky played air guitar.
Ricky and Tana missed dropkicks. It was funny to see them actually go up for a dropkick attempt, while poor Robert just sort of crumpled to the mat.
Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Tetsuya Naito got the heat on Ricky Morton.
BUSHI tagged in and choked Ricky with his t-shirt. Shingo tagged in. Ricky hit a couple of jabs, but Shingo cut him off with a slam. Shingo missed a senton, and it was Ricky-to-Robert time.
Robert hit a backdrop on Shingo for a two count. Shingo cut him off with a jab and a back elbow. Robert came back with his own jab, then made a tag to Tanahashi, while Shingo tagged Naito.
Naito hit a combinacion in the corner, then tagged BUSHI. BUSHI stood Tana on his head with a DDT, then hit a missile dropkick.
LIJ went 3-on-1 on Tana. Naito and Shingo hit Tana with stereo dropkicks. Naito then went after Ricky on the apron.
Meanwhile, Tana hit Twist and Shout on BUSHI. He applied a cloverleaf, but Shingo broke it up.
Tana, Ricky and Robert hit stereo dropkicks on Shingo, who rolled outside. Ricky then hit a suicide dive on Shingo.
Back inside, Tana hit slingblade on BUSHI, then used a High Fly Flow for the pin.
This was all sorts of fun. A perfect nostalgia match.
After the match, there was a ceremony for Tiger Hattori. He posed with Tana and the Rock n Roll Express, and his family came into the ring to present him with flowers. Tiger cut a promo thanking the fans.
HIROOKI GOTO, TOMOHIRO ISHII & AMAZING RED DEFEATED JAY WHITE, CHASE OWENS & GEDO
I would describe this as a slightly elevated house show match.
Goto and White started out. White immediately begged off, and both tagged out. Bullet Club used an illegal triple team to gain the advantage on Ishii. White sent Ishii into the barricade, and Owens hit Ishii with a suicide dive.
Back inside, White hit Ishii with chops, then a dragon screw. Gedo tagged in and raked Ishii's eyes, then choked him. Owens tagged in and used similar heel tactics.
Owens called for a brainbuster, but Ishii reversed into his own brainbuster. Red got a tag and hit a missile dropkick, a wheel kick, then a tornado DDT. He teased a Code Red, but Owens blocked.
Red hit a hook kick. Owens cut him off in the corner with an enziguri, then hit a blockbuster, into a double down.
Goto and White got tags. Goto hit a knee strike, a wheel kick in the corner, then hit a Saito suplex for a nearfall. White ducked a lariat, then hit a chop. Goto fired right back with chops. Goto teased an ushigoroshi, but White blocked, then hit a Saito suplex.
Gedo tagged in. He hit Goto with a superkick for a nearfall. Owens grabbed a chair, then took the ref. Gedo used the distraction to pull out brass knuckles. Ishii cut him off with a lariat, then hit a back suplex on Owens.
Red hit a swanton bomb off the post to Owens on the floor. Back inside, Goto hit an interfering White with an ushigoroshi. Goto then used the ushigoroshi on Gedo, then hit him with a GTR for the pin.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: KENTA DEFEATED YOSHI-HASHI TO RETAIN THE TITLE
This was good, but they probably could have cut five minutes off the front end and had a better match. Ref bumps in Bullet Club matches are a way of life now. We can either accept it, or complain about it. I've grown to accept it.
KENTA rolled outside after the opening lockup, not allowing YH to chop him on the break. KENTA went for a walk, stalling. They repeated the same spot, and KENTA went for another stroll.
YH came outside after him, then threw him back inside. YH hit a shoulder tackle, and KENTA again rolled outside. KENTA used the top rope to clothesline YH, then pulled him to the floor. YH got posted. There were dueling chants. YH got posted again.
KENTA hit a DDT on the concrete floor in the aisle. He really took care of YH on the bump, and it might have been the safest DDT I've ever seen. They teased a countout, but YH made it back in. KENTA immediately rolled him back outside, then hit a DDT on the floor.
KENTA hit a knee lift for a nearfall. YH fired up and managed a couple of strikes, but KENTA chopped him back down, then hit a PK.
KENTA used a chinlock with a bodyscissors. He gave up the chinlock, then hit some punches. KENTA used a neckbreaker for a two count.
YH fired up and hit a brainbuster. He used a back elbow, a shoulder tackle, then a headhunter. HE draped KENTA over the ropes, then hit him with a dropkick, picking up a two count.
KENTA hit a powerslam, tornado DDT, then a clothesline off the top for a two count. KENTA hit a spinning backfist, a yakuza kick, then a Shibata dropkick. He followed up with a double stomp off the top for a nearfall.
KENTA teased a GTS, but YH escaped, then hit a lariat. They traded forearms, then slaps. YH hit a high kick. KENTA pulled guard. YH went to the ground, where KENTA applied the Game Over. After a long struggle, YH forced a rope break.
KENTA hit a v-trigger. YH came back with a mid kick, a thrust kick, then hit a Last Ride for a two count.
YH hit double knees, but KENTA kicked out at two.
YH went for a fisherman buster, but KENTA blocked it. YH hit the ropes, but KENTA pulled the referee in his path, and we had a ref bump. KENTA hit a low blow, then called G.O.D. to the ring. They teased a super powerbomb, but Tiger Hattori ran down and ordered them backstage.
KENTA hit a PK, then revived the original referee. KENTA went for the GTS, but YH rolled through, then applied the butterfly lock. KENTA crawled to the bottom rope to force a break.
YH hit a big lariat, then hit a fisherman buster for a nearfall. He tried for Kharma, but YH blocked. KENTA hit a series of hard palm strikes to the face then hit the Busaiku knee for a two count.
KENTA followed up with GTS for the win.
SANADA & EVIL DEFEATED KAZUCHIKA OKADA & KOTA IBUSHI
EVIL and Ibushi kickd things off with a series of counters and misses. EVIL missed a senton, while Ibushi missed on a standing moonsault. Okada tagged in and called for SANADA to do the same. SANADA obliged.
Okada and SANADA stood near the ropes and soaked in the reaction from the audience. This was fun main event crowd work. They finally locked up. Okada broke cleanly against the ropes, then used a side headlock. Okada hit a tackle.
SANADA teased a leapfrog dropkick, but Okada grabbed his waist and tried a Rainmaker. SANADA ducked, then tried for Skull End. Okada slipped out. He hit the ropes, where he was tripped by EVIL, and SANADA went to work.
EVIL and SANADA cleared Ibushi off the apron, then used quick tags, working over Okada. EVIL and Ibushi brawled on the outside. SANADA put Okada in the Paradise Lock, then broke it with a dropkick. SANADA picked up a two count.
SANADA used a chinlock. Okada came back with a flapjack, then tagged Ibushi. Ibushi hit a big boot on an interfering EVIL, then hit a lariat to SANADA.
Ibushi hit a combination of strikes, then hit a standing moonsault for a two count. SANADA came back with a dropkick to the left knee, then tagged in EVIL, who hit a fisherman buster for a two count.
Ibushi and EVIL traded strikes. Ibushi dropped to a knee, but popped up into a mid kick. EVIL tried a misdirection lariat, but Ibushi hit a backflip kick.
Okada and SANADA got tags. Okada hit a back elbow. They traded strikes in the center. SANADA hit a moonsault into Skull End, but Ibushi broke up the hold with a dropkick.
While EVIL and Ibushi fought to the floor, SANADA tried a moonsault. Okada moved, and SANADA landed on his feet. Okada hit a dropkick. SANADA ducked a Rainmaker, then hit a back suplex.
EVIL tagged in to square off with Okada. He fired up the corwd, then hit a seated senton in the corner for a nearfall. He teased Darkness Falls, but Okada slid out. Okada caught EVIL charging into the corner, then hit him with an air raid crash.
Ibushi tagged in and hit a springboard dropkick, a powerslam, and a second rope moonsault for a two count. He tried a Last Ride, but EVIL blocked it. SANADA jumped in for the double team, and EVIL hit a lariat. He made a cover, but Okada broke up the pinfall.
EVIL hit Darkness Falls for a two count. On the floor, Okada sent SANADA into the barricade. EVIL tried Everything is EVIL, but Okada saved for Ibushi and hit a tombstone. SANADA jumped in and hit a neckbreaker on Okada. Ibushi hit SANADA with a Bomaye. EVIL hit Ibushi with a German, and everyone was down. The crowd was loving this.
Okada and SANADA rolled to the floor. Ibushi and EVIL traded strikes in the center of the ring. Ibushi ducked a lariat and hit a high kick. Each blocked the other's finish. EVIL hit a hard lariat, dropping Ibushi.
EVIL hit a lariat off the ropes, and Ibushi took a flip bump. EVIL got a two count, then hit Everything is EVIL. He used a jackknife cover, then pinned Ibushi.
This was a hell of a main event tag match. The match was safe, everyone worked at a high level, but they also milked every little thing and got more out of the crowd than the work otherwise would have.
EVIL cut a promo in English after the match. He said the show today was very, very late, but that's okay, it's getting dark. He said New York is EVIL, and everything is EVIL.
This was a fun show, but I wouldn't call anything must-see. Check out the Tanahashi & Rock 'n' Roll Express vs. LIJ match and the main event, if you get the chance.