NJPW’s biggest event of the fall takes place this morning at Sumo Hall.
Despite the weather that has been going on over the weekend, the show is still scheduled to take place. Kazuchika Okada will defend the IWGP Heavyweight title against SANADA in the main event. This will be a rematch based on their last match during the G1, when SANADA pinned Okada.
The semi-main will feature a similar storyline. EVIL defeated Kota Ibushi during the G1, and has also pinned him in the tours since. The match will be for Kota Ibushi’s IWGP title shot at Wrestle Kingdom 14.
Two other title matches will take place on the show. Due to travel issues, Jon Moxley is off the show and the IWGP United State stitle has been declared vacant. Juice Robinson will now face Lance Archer for the vacant title. Will Ospreay will defend the IWGP Jr. title against Super J-Cup winner El Phantasmo.
Jushin Thunder Liger will also face Minrou Suzuki in a special singles match. The two have been feuding with months, and it recently got to the point where Jushin Liger brought out his Kinshin Liger persona, nearly taking out Suzuki with a spike.
Join us for live coverage starting at 4 a.m. ET.
The card was totally revamped due to travel issues related to Typhoon Hagibis. Jon Moxley was stripped of the U.S. title, and Lance Archer will now face Juice Robinson for the vacant title. Zack Sabre Jr. is also off the card.
EL DESPERADO & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU DEFEATED SHO & YOH
This was Desperado's return match after suffering a broken jaw in May. He feigned a jaw injury early, allowing his team to take control of the match.
Kanemaru hit a leg slice over the barricade on SHO. Desperado kept YOH at bay while Kanemaru used a full crab on SHO. Desperado got a tag and traded forearm shots with SHO. Kanemaru and Desperado continued using quick tags to work over SHO.
SHO blocked a vertical suplex and hit his own on Kanemaru. YOH got a hot tag and ran wild. He sent Desperado outside with a dropkick, then hit a flying forearm on Kanemaru. YOH then used a head and arm suplex into a bridge for a near fall.
Kanemaru cut YOH off with a dropkick to the leg. Desperado tagged in. He did well to fight off a Roppongi 3K double team at first, but got cut off with stereo knee strikes.
SHO and YOH teased a 3K, but Kanemaru pulled YOH outside. SHO used a deadlift German on Desperado for a two count while Kanemaru and YOH fought on the outside.
We got a ref bump here in the opener, as Desperado shoved SHO into the official. Kanemaru jumped in and spit whiskey in SHO's eyes. Desperado then hit the Pinche Loco on SHO and pinned him.
This was a fun opener, screwy finish aside. Desperado looked gigantic, having put on some muscle mass in his time off.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & TOMOAKI HONMA DEFEATED TOGI MAKABE & TORU YANO
Wataru Inoue, who debuted with Tanahashi and now works in the NJPW office came to ringside and got a nice reaction.
It was so weird seeing Tanahashi in the second match in a nothing tag.
Tana and Makabe began. Tana hit a hip toss. Honma and Yano tagged in. Yano tried to untie a turnbuckle pad. Honma and Tana missed a double kokeshi attempt. Yano then untied a corner pad and sent Honma into the exposed buckle.
Yano then sent Tana into the exposed buckle. Makabe and Yano used quick tags as they continued working over Honma. Honma came back with a shoulder tackle and tagged Tana.
Tana hit dragon screws on both Makabe and Yano. He then hit a somersault senton on Makabe for a two count. Makabe cut him off with a lariat, then tagged Yano. Yano got sent into the exposed buckle.
Yano tried a low blow on Tana, but Makabe made the save. Tana and Honma hit a double kokeshi on Yano, but Makabe broke up the pinfall.
Honma took Makabe out with a kokeshi. Yano sent Tana into the exposed buckle and used a schoolboy for a two count.
Tana then hit a slingblade on Yano, and followed with a High Fly Flow for the pin.
TETSUYA NAITO & SHINGO TAKAGI DEFEATED TAICHI & DOUKI BY DQ
A lame match with a lame finish.
Naito and Shingo worked over DOUKI at the outset. DOUKI used a thumb to the eye to gain the upper hand on Shingo, and Suzuki-gun then turned this into a brawl around ringside. Taichi sent Naito over the barricade, then used a chair on Shingo.
Back inside, DOUKI and Taichi worked over Shingo. Shingo came back with jabs and a lariat on DOUKI, then tagged Naito. Taichi tagged in as well.
Taichi attacked Naito's legs with kicks. Naito hit a hurricanrana, then a basement dropkick. Taichi came back with an enziguri, while DOUKI cleared Shingo off the apron. Naito hit a clunky swinging DDT, and both tagged out.
Shingo hit a pair of corner clotheslines, then used a DDT for a near fall. Shingo hit a noshigami for a two count, as Taichi made the save. Naito and Taichi brawled to the floor. Shingo hit a Pumping Bomber on DOUKI.
Shingo set up DOUKI for Made in Japan. Taichi jumped in with his mic stand and used it on Shingo for the DQ.
After the bell, Taichi blocked a Destino from Naito, then hit him with the stand. Taichi then hit a Last Ride. He got a visual pinfall on Naito as DOUKI counted to three.
Taichi cut a promo after the match and promised to finish what Naito started, since Naito couldn't get it done. Presumably this was in reference to Naito's quest to be a double champion.
MINORU SUZUKI DEFEATED JUSHIN LIGER
Liger came to fight tonight. He entered sans wig and the top half of his bodysuit. He is in remarkable shape.
Liger dared Suzuki to go to the mat with him. Liger used a trip takedown. Suzuki got a kimura applied, but Liger reached the bottom rope. Suzuki then invited Liger to the mat with him. Liger trapped Suzuki in a triangle, but Suzuki forced a break.
They rolled outside. Liger tried to use a chair, but the referee stopped him. Suzuki shoved the ref down, then used a chair on Liger against the barricade. The referee again tried to intervene, and again Suzuki threw him down.
Suzuki went for Liger's mask. They traded palm strikes on the floor, with Suzuki getting the best of the exchange. Suzuki used an armbar over the ropes. Suzuki hit a headbutt, then a right hand.
Liger fired up and hit a couple of palm strikes. He then hit a shotei, then a rolling capo kick. Liger went for a brainbuster, but Suzuki reversed into a rear naked choke. Liger feigned passing out, then fell to the mat. Liger baited Suzuki to the ground, where he then used an armbar. Suzuki forced a break.
Liger continued to work over Suzuki's right arm. Suzuki slapped on a sleeper. He then went for a Gotch-style piledriver, but Liger hit a backdrop. Liger then used a Thesz Press for a two count.
Liger hit a brainbuster for a two count. He hit the ropes, but ran right into a Suzuki dropkick. Suzuki connected with a series of palm strikes. Liger fired up and countered with his own palm strikes. Suzuki countered. Liger tried to counter, but he lost steam on his strikes.
Suzuki hit a hard forearm shot to the neck. Liger hit a final palm strike. Suzuki no-sold it, then again went for the Gotch piledriver. Suzuki held the hold for a long time, then dropped Liger with the piledriver. Suzuki then covered for the 1-2-3.
After the bell, Suzuki grabbed a chair. He cleared the ring of the Young Lions tending to Liger. He teased a chair shot to Liger. Instead, Suzuki dropped the chair. He then fell to his knees, and bowed down to Liger.
After Suzuki left, Liger took the microphone. He thanked Suzuki then left.
This was tremendous. They got a lot out of a very simple match, and the post-match emotion was awesome.
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: WILL OSPREAY DEFEATED EL PHANTASMO TO RETAIN THE TITLE (27:59)
This was the third match with a ref bump, if you're keeping score. The match was fantastic, but they kicked out of absolutely everything, almost to the point of parody.
ELP put out a babyface statement on Twitter earlier in the day, promising to change his ways. Taiji Ishimori accompanied ELP, while Robbie Eagles seconded Ospreay. ELP continued with the babyface routine, as he sent Ishimori to the back. Ospreay then sent Eagles away as well.
After the opening bell, both men broke cleanly against the ropes. ELP offered a handshake, but Ospreay refused. They did a series of flips and counters, ending in a standoff. ELP again offered a handshake, and again Ospreay refused.
ELP offered a knuckle lock, and Ospreay obliged. They traded monkey flips while keeping the knuckle lock, then both bridged out. ELP hit a slap to the face. Ospreay answered with his own slap. ELP hit a chop, while Ospreay countered with a heavier chop, establishing Ospreay as having the power edge.
ELP poked Ospreay in the eye, but pretended like it was an accident. He helped Ospreay up, but then went back and raked the eyes again. ELP hit a springboard hurricanrana, then mocked Ospreay's pose in the center of the ring.
Ospreay retaliated with a Pip Pip Cheerio, then a space flying tiger drop. On the outside, Ospreay threw ELP over the barricade into Gino Gambino at the commentary desk. ELP flew about five rows deep. Ospreay went into the crowd after ELP, but ELP hit him with a soft chair shot to the head.
They fought into the audience. They climbed atop an overhang and fought there, about a ten foot drop to the arena floor below. Ospreay slid off, landing on his feet. ELP then hit a crossbody off the overhang.
Back in the ring, Ospreay took a front turnbuckle bump. ELP tied Ospreay to the tree of woe, then hit a sliding dropkick. He teased a second dropkick, but stomped on Ospreay's crotch instead. Ospreay countered with a snap spider German out of the corner.
Ospreay hit a dropkick, then a standing shooting star. He teased a Storm Breaker, but ELP blocked. Ospreay teased an Oscutter, but ELP blocked. ELP teased his airplane spin neckbreaker, but Ospreay blocked.
Ospreay landed on his feet out of an attempted top rope rana from ELP. Ospreay hit a cutter. He then tried an Oscutter, but ELP cut him off and hit the airplane spin neckbreaker. ELP teased a CR2 on the apron, but Ospreay blocked.
They traded strikes on the apron. Ospreay blocked another CR2 attempt. Ospreay rolled to the floor, then jumped off the barricade. ELP jumped off the apron into a cutter from the barricade to the floor.
After a countout tease, ELP dove back inside, right into a coast-to-coast from Ospreay. Ospreay hit a shooting star press for a two count. He followed with a Robinson Special, then hit the Oscutter. Ospreay covered, but Ishimori ran in and pulled the ref out of the ring.
Ishimori teased a belt shot, but Eagles ran down to even the odds. Eagles hit a flip dive through the ropes, then dragged Ishimori to the back.
ELP grabbed the title belt. Ospreay ducked a belt shot, then hit a hook kick. Ospreay missed a Hidden Blade. ELP hit a low blow, then a belt shot. ELP hit a top rope splash. He covered, but Ospreay kicked out at two.
ELP hit Ospreay with a Cheeky Nandos kick, then hit a neckbreaker off the second rope for a two count. ELP hit a Styles Clash, but Ospreay again kicked out at two.
ELP hit a V-Trigger. He teased a One-winged Angel, but Ospreay blocked it, then hit a Spanish Fly for a two count.
They traded strikes. Ospreay hit a series of hook kicks, then hit a Canadian Destroyer for a two count. Ospreay climbed to the top rope. ELP kicked the ref into the ropes, and Ospreay got crotched on the top rope.
ELP went for a Frankensteiner off the top rope, but Ospreay turned it into a powerbomb. Ospreay hit a Hidden Blade, then hit Storm Breaker for the pin.
HIROOKI GOTO, TOMOHIRO ISHII & YOSHI-HASHI DEFEATED JAY WHITE, KENTA & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI
This felt like a buffer match after the craziness of the Ospreay match right before it. They focused on Goto vs. White, then Ishii and KENTA.
Bullet Club worked over YH for a long time at the outset. YH hit a vertical suplex, and Ishii got a tag. Ishii and KENTA had a nice exchange, ending with a DDT from KENTA to Ishii. Ishii's selling was great.
Goto and White got tags. Goto hit a wheel kick in the corner, then hit a Saito cuplex for a two count. White used a distraction from Gedo to avoid an Ushigoroshi, then hit Goto with a DDT.
Yujiro tagged in. Goto and Yujiro exchanged lariats. Yujiro and KENTA double-teamed Goto. KENTA hit a Shibata dropkick in the corner, and Yujiro hit a fisherman buster for a two count.
Yujiro went for Pimp Juice. YH made the save for Goto. White went for a Blade Runner, but Goto escaped, then sent White outside. Yujiro hit an inverted DDT on Goto for a two count.
Goto blocked Pimp Juice, then hit an Ushigoroshi. He followed up with a GTR, and got the pin on Yujiro.
After the match, Ishii and KENTA brawled to the back. White teased getting in with Goto, but begged off.
Tanahashi was on commentary and had a staredown with White after the match. White acted as though he has no intention of defending the title against Goto or Tana, but those look to be the next challengers for White.
IWGP U.S. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: LANCE ARCHER DEFEATED JUICE ROBINSON TO WIN THE TITLE (14:59)
This was a cold match with no build thanks to Moxley's travel issues. They tried with all of the plunder, but they spent a ton of time just moving furniture around. This felt like a misfire.
Juice began this no-DQ match with an inside cradle. Archer kicked out at two. Archer rolled to the apron, and Juice hit a spear through the ropes. Juice used a chair. He teased a cannonball against the barricade, but Archer jumped up and hit a big boot.
Archer hit a chokeslam over the barricade through a table, then hit Juice with a chair. Archer removed all of the turnbuckle pads, then went back to the floor and hit Juice with a chair.
Archer set up a bunch of furniture in the ring. He sent Juice into a chair wedged in the corner. Juice sold his hand and may have dislocated a finger. Juice came back with a superplex, a Left Hand of God, then hit a cannonball through a table.
Juice went for Pulp Friction. Archer pushed Juice off, then hit a Pounce, sending Juice through a table.
They had a sword fight with chairs. Juice blocked an EBD Claw, then hit a Juice Box for a two count. Juice set up a pile of chairs in the center of the ring. He teased a Pulp Friction on the chairs, but Archer blocked, then slammed Juice on the chairs.
Archer then hit Blackout on the chairs. He covered, but Juice kicked out at two.
Archer slammed Juice's head into the chairs repeatedly, then used the EBD Claw to pin Juice and win the title.
Archer continued his assault after the bell. David Finlay ran in to make the save. He hit a pair of stunners, and Archer bailed.
I expected that it was going to be difficult for NJPW to get dates on Moxley once AEW's schedule kicked in, but I still expected him to be in for big shows. After this, it would appear that they are moving forward as though Moxley isn't going to be around. Interesting.
KOTA IBUSHI DEFEATED EVIL TO RETAIN THE RIGHT TO CHALLENGE FOR THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP AT WRESTLE KINGDOM (24:05)
They started slowly, as EVIL worked a side headlock. Ibushi came back with a dropkick. EVIL sent Ibushi to the floor, then whipped him into the barricade. EVIL maintained a methodical pace as he went back to a side headlock.
Ibushi came back with a powerslam out of the corner, then a moonsault. EVIL came back with a foot stomp. Ibushi avoided a bronco buster in the corner by hitting a double stomp to EVIL's chest. Ibushi teased a deadlift German from the apron back into the ring, but EVIL countered with a cutter, dropping Ibushi's neck on the top rope.
EVIL pulled two chairs from under the ring. He placed one on Ibushi's head and neck, then hit him with the other. This wasn't a DQ because it happened on the floor, I guess.
Back inside, EVIL hit a superplex for a near fall. EVIL tried for a misdirection lariat, but Ibushi caught him with a hurricanrana. Ibushi teased a Last Ride off the top rope, but EVIL tossed him to the apron. Ibushi popped up, then hit a top tope rana for a two count.
Ibushi grabbed wrist control, teasing a Kamigoye. EVIL fought it off. EVIL tried a German, but Ibushi landed on his feet. EVIL no-sold a lariat, then hit his own lariat for a near fall.
EVIL hit Darkness Falls for a two count. EVIL tried for Everything is EVIL, but Ibushi pulled him into a cradle for a two count. Ibushi dropped EVIL on his head with a spike package piledriver. Ibushi then hit a Last Ride for a near fall.
Ibushi went for a Bomaye, but EVIL nailed him with a lariat. EVIL then hit a second lariat for a near fall. Ibushi blocked Everything is EVIL, then hit a straightjacket German into a bridge. EVIL got his shoulders up, then hit a pair of half-and-half suplexes.
EVIL removed his elbow sleeve and went for a lariat, but Ibushi cut him off with a lariat. Ibushi went for Kamigoye, but EVIL reversed into a headbutt. They traded headbutts. Ibushi hit Kamigoye, but EVIL kicked out at two.
Ibushi immediately hit a second Kamigoye, and this time it was enough for the 1-2-3.
This was a good match, but felt just short of the NJPW main event match quality.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: KAZUCHIKA OKADA DEFEATED SANADA TO RETAIN THE TITLE (36:21)
Another fantastic Okada vs. SANADA match.
Okada tried a shotgun dropkick at the opening bell, but SANADA escaped. They traded strikes. Okada tried a series of dropkicks, but missed all of them, as they continue to tell the story that Okada can't hit the dropkick on SANADA.
SANADA ducked a Rainmaker. Okada hit an armdrag to avoid Skull End. SANADA missed a moonsault. Both missed on a double dropkick spot, ending a crazy opening sequence.
Okada worked a wristlock. SANADA reversed into a hammerlock. Okada slipped to a side headlock, then pushed SANADA into the ropes. Okada teased a strike on the break, but broke cleanly instead.
Okada hit a shoulder block. He sent SANADA rolling outside with a sliding kick. On the floor, Okada sent SANADA over the barricade with a big boot. SANADA avoided a draping DDT on the barricade, then countered with a swinging neckbreaker off the barricade.
Back inside, SANADA used a chinlock. Okada countered with uppercut forearm strikes. Okada hit a running back elbow, then another in the corner. Okada hit a DDT out of the corner for a two count.
SANADA took a flip over the turnbuckle to the apron. Before he could hit a follow-up springboard attack, Okada hit a dropkick, sending SANADA to the floor. Okada hit a big boot, sending SANADA over the barricade. Okada hit a crazy running crossbody over the fence, wiping out the first three rows of chairs.
Okada asked Red Shoes to stop his count to allow SANADA to get back inside. SANADA tried to fire up, but couldn't get anything on his strikes. Okada hit a slam, then went to the top. SANADA jumped up before Okada could try a top rope elbow. SANADA hit a leapfrog dropkick, then a plancha, before standing and posing on the barricade.
SANADA got the Paradise Lock applied, then broke it with a dropkick. SANADA covered for a two count. SANADA missed a moonsault, but landed on his feet. Okada hit a shotgun dropkick, then a missile dropkick.
Okada hit a top rope elbow, then hit his Rainmaker pose. They traded cradles. SANADA teased a TKO, but went for Skull End instead. Okada reversed into a Tombstone attempt. SANADA reversed that into his own Tombstone, and hit it. SANADA then hit a TKO for a near fall.
SANADA used Skull end. Okada slipped his head out of the hold, but SANADA re-applied it. Okada slipped out again, but SANADA again re-applied the hold. They did a long submission tease. Red Shoes really tried to sell this. Okada sat back into a cover and got a two count.
SANADA took Okada's back, but Okada was able to get back to his feet. SANADA tried to get Skull End again, but Okada hit a Rainmaker. He was slow to make a cover, and SANADA kicked out at two.
They traded strikes from their knees, then continued to trade while standing. SANADA dropped Okada to one knee with an uppercut forearm. SANADA no-sold an uppercut, and Okada dropped Okada to the mat with an uppercut.
SANADA missed with a rolling elbow. Okada missed a Rainmaker. SANADA went for Skull End, but Okada hit a dropkick to the back. Okada then hit another dropkick. SANADA avoided a Rainmaker, then got Skull End applied again.
SANADA used a spinning Skull End, then sat down in the hold with a bodyscissors applied. SANADA gave up the hold and covered, but Okada just got a shoulder up.
SANADA hit one moonsault to the back. SANADA went for another, but Okada rolled over and got his knees up.
SANADA got Skull End, but Okada used the ropes to reverse into a Tombstone. SANADA kicked off a Rainmaker, but Okada maintained wrist control. SANADA used an O'Connor roll into a Japanese Clutch for a great near fall.
Okada hit an armdrag to avoid Skull End, then hit a dropkick. SANADA ducked a Rainmaker. Okada ducked a counter Rainmaker. Okada avoided a pop-up TKO. SANADA hit a rolling elbow. He again tried the pop-up TKO, but Okada blocked it.
Okada teased another Tombstone, but SANADA wrapped an arm around his neck, looking again for Skull End. Okada hit a Michinoku Driver, then hit a Rainmaker. He covered, and got the pin.
Okada offered a handshake after the match, and SANADA accepted, before walking off in tears.
Okada cut a promo after the match. He said he'd like to do it again with SANADA one day in the Tokyo Dome main event.
Okada then turned his attention to Ibushi. He said Ibushi has avenged his G1 losses, but Okada, who lost to Ibushi, hasn't yet.
Ibushi came to the ring. He congratulated Okada. He said he wants both the Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles. He said it's no fun anymore with Okada on top all the time. He asked if it was okay to challenge Okada.
Okada said it's not that easy. He said Ibushi has to come at him first at the Tokyo Dome. Ibushi agreed. They will face off on January 4.
Okada thanked the fans for coming to see the show in spite of the typhoon. He said it's their job as wrestlers to give people struggling right now the energy to get back on their feet.
Okada thanked everyone, and the show closed with confetti flying and his music playing.