NJPW heads to Melbourne, Australia this morning for a new event called Southern Showdown.
A special tag match headlines, with New Zealand’s Bad Luck Fale and Jay White teaming up to take on Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event. White has a history with both, as does Fale, and all four will be in the upcoming G1 Climax tournament. Fale in particular will be in the same block as both Tanahashi and Okada.
Three titles are on the line in the undercard. Will Ospreay will defend the IWGP Jr. title against Robbie Eagles, the Guerillas of Destiny will defend the IWGP tag team titles against Juice Robinson and Australia’s own Mikey Nicholls and El Phantasmo will defend the British cruiserweight championship against Rocky Romero in a rematch from the Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
The undercard also features a number of Australian and New Zealand talent, including Gino Gambino, Slex and Aaron Solow.
Join us for live coverage starting at 5:00 a.m.
TOA HENARE, SHOTA UMINO & NICK BURY DEFEATED ANDREW VILLALOBOS, MARK TUI & MICHAEL RICHARDS
Bury was a late sub for Ren Narita, as travel issues kept Narita and SHO from making the event.
Umino and Villalobos began with some mat wrestling. Bury and Tui tagged in, and Tui got the heat on Bury. Bury, Tui, and Richards worked over Bury in their corner with ics, stomps, and elbow strikes.
Bury flipped out of a backdrop attempt, and hit an enziguri on Richards. Umino got a tag. He connected with a back elbow. Tui tried to cut him off, but Umino quickly disposed of him. Umino loced a crab on Richards, while Henare ran interference for him. Richards reached the ropes, forcing a break.
Vilalobos and Henare tagged in. Henare ate a suplex, but popped right up. He hit an elbow strike, and hit a spear for a two count. They exchanged strikes. The sequence ended with a headbutt from Henare, who then hit Toa Bottom for the pin. A solid, very basic opener.
SLEX DEFEATED AARON SOLOW
They exchanged waistlock takedowns, then traded dropkicks. Slex hit a backbreaer, and Solow rolled outside. Slex hit a suicide dive. Slex teased a superplex, but Solow slipped out. He crotched Slex on the top rope, then hit a neckbreaker.
After an exchange of strikes, Slex hit an enziguri. They exchanged strikes again. Slex hit a blue thunder bomb for a two count. Slex went for a quebrada, but Solow hit him with a superkick. Solow used a step-up knee in the corner for a nearfall.
Solow went up top, but Slex cut him off, and hit a delayed superplex for a two count. Solow used a schoolboy for a nearfall. Solow connected with a double stomp on the mat, then hit another off the top rope for a nearfall.
Slex hit a disaster kick, then connected with the Slexecution for the pin. Slex posed with his sunglasses after the bell.
Slex has great charisma and Solow is a very solid worker with a good look. A good match.
TORU YANO & YOH DEFEATED GINO GAMBINO & TAIJI ISHIMORI
Gambino and Yano kicked things off with some comedy. Yano tried to untie a turnbucle pad, but Gambino cut him off. Ishimori got a tag, and worked over Yano's neck. Ishimori and Gambino cut the ring in half, and continued to work on Yano.
Yano used a hair pull to take down Ishimori, then tagged YOH. YOH fought off a double team, then hit Ishimori with a dragon screw. YOH hit a bridging suplex for a nearfall, but Ishimori came back with a sliding German.
YOH hit a flying forearm, but Ishimori connected with a handspring kick. Both tagged out. Yano untied two corner pads, and Gambino and Yano both used one as a weapon. Yano got sent into an exposed buckle. Ishimori hit double kneed in the corner, then a seated senton.
Gambino hit a splash for a nearfall. While Ishimori and YOH brawled outside, Yano sent Gambino into an exposed buckle. Yano hit a low blow, and YOH jumped in to hit a superkick. Yano then pinned Gambino. A fun little comedy bout.
TOMOHIRO ISHII & YOSHI-HASHI DEFEATED YUJIRO TAKAHASHI & CHASE OWENS
Bullet Club used an attack before the bell to establish the advantage. They worked over YOSHI-HASHI for the first five minutes. YH finally hit a kick, then managed to tag Ishii. Ishii hit Owens with a shoulder tackle, then blistered him with chops.
Ishii hit a release German, which spawned an "Ishii" chant from the crowd. Owens hit a Russian leg sweep, sending Ishii into the buckle. Yujiro jumped in and hit a fisherman buster. Owens connected with a shining wizard for a nearfall.
Owens hit a snap dragon suplex, then a v-trigger. He hit the Jewel Heist, but Ishii kicked out. Owens went for a package piledriver, but YH saved. YH and Yujiro brawled to the floor.
Owens fought out of another package driver attempt, then hit a lariat. He followed with the vertical drop brainbuster for the pin.
This was notable only because Owens broke out some of Kenny Omega's offense. I'm a huge Ishii fan, but this was nothing special.
RPW BRITISH CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: EL PHANTASMO DEFEATED ROCKY ROMERO TO RETAIN THE TITLE
ELP attacked Romero before the bell. Romero came back with a rana off the second rope. Romero hit ten punches in the corner, and ELP begged off. They exchanged chops, then Romero used a pair of eye pokes.
Romero went to work on ELP's left arm. Romero went for forever clotheslines, but ELP blocked, then stomped on Romero's groin in the tree of woe. ELP used a chinlock. Romero missed a dropkick, and ELP connected on a quebrada for a nearfall.
Romero draped ELP over the ropes, then kicked at the left arm. Romero missed a double stomp off the top, but rolled through. ELP pulled Romero to the floor, then hit a moonsault off the post. Back inside, ELP made a cover for a two count.
ELP again went to the chinlock. ELP did his rope-walk spot. He made it around three corners of the ring, until Romero crotched him. Romero hit a coast-to-coast dropkick, then a rana. He hit forever clotheslines, but ELP caught him coming in, and hit an airplane spin neckbreaker for a nearfall.
ELP went for the CR2, but Romero dropped into a cradle for a nearfall. Romero hit a tornado DDT, then hit a falcon arrow into a Diablo armbar. ELP slipped to an ankle lock, but Romero pulled him into another cradle for a two count.
ELP hit a series of short kicks, but Romero fired back with slaps. ELP attacked Romero's nipples, and Romero came back with a pair of lariats. He then hit a standing sliced bread for a two count.
Romero went for sliced bread, but ELP caught him in a tombstone position. Romero flipped out, and into a Canadian Destroyer.
The video feed dropped out here. It appears that ELP retained. They were having a good match, but not at the level of their Korakuen Hall bout.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: TAMA TONGA & TANGA LOA DEFEATED JUICE ROBINSON & MIKEY NICHOLLS TO RETAIN THE TITLES
They brawled around ringside at the outset. Tonga hit a backdrop on Juice on the ramp, then jumped back inside and dropped Nicholls with a gun stun. Loa and Nicholls ended up the legal men, and Nicholls found himself being worked over.
Nicholls hit a DDT on Loa, then tagged Juice. Juice ran wild with jabs. He teased Pulp Friction on Tonga, but Jado cut him off with a kendo stick shot from the floor. Tonga took the referee, and Jado hit Juice with the stick on the floor.
Back inside, Loa used a chinlock. Tonga came in for an illegal double team, and G.O.D. hit a double back suplex. Loa used a powerslam for a two count.
Nicholls got a hot tag. He ran wild with clotheslines. Juice came back in for a double team, and hit Tonga with a cannonball. Juice and Nicholls hit a tandem facebuster on Tonga for a nearfall.
Jado jumped on the apron, and Juice hit him with a left hand. Tonga hit a gun stun on Juice. Nicholls went for a Mikey Bomb, but Loa rolled him up with a handful of tights, and got the pin.
Tonga and Loa do certain things well as a team, and they have great explosiveness. That said, I'm not a fan of the formula they've settled on for their matches. I know tag matches are generally formulaic, but theirs are even more so than most.
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: WILL OSPREAY DEFEATED ROBBIE EAGLES TO RETAIN THE TITLE
ELP came to the ring as Eagles's second. The bell rang, and Eagles sent ELP to sit near the announce desk.
Ospreay and Eagles locked up. Off the break, Ospreay initiated a great opening sequence of counters and teases. Eagles tried a pair of shoulder blocks, but Ospreay didn't go down. Eagles dared Ospreay to try a shoulder tackle, but Ospreay landed a chop instead.
They did a sequence of rope-running, ending with Eagles hitting a dropkick. Ospreay rolled outside, and Eagles hit a flip dive through the ropes. Eagles threw Ospreay back inside for a one count.
Eagles hit a running kick for a two count. He set Ospreay up in the corner, chopped him, and hit a back elbow. Eagles climbed to the second rope, but Ospreay hit a chop, and Eagles spilled outside.
Eagles tried to send Ospreay into the barricade, but Ospreay jumped over the barricade, then hit Pip Pip Cheerio off the railing. Ospreay posted Eagles, then hit a hook kick to the face. He followed up with a drive-by kick on the apron.
Ospreay hit a slam, then used a kneedrop for a two count. With Eagles sitting in the corner, Ospreay hit a series of forearms to the neck, then a delayed dropkick. Ospreay used a chinlock, as ELP came back to ringside to urge on Eagles.
Eagles used a surprise cradle for a one count, then popped up, hitting a DDT. Eagles hit a series of mid kicks. He connected with double knees in the corner. Ospreay rolled to the apron. He went for another drive-by, but Eagles escaed, then hit a double stomp on the apron.
Eagles posted Ospreay's legs, setting up for the Miller Special. Back inside, Eagles hit a dropkick to the knee, a 619, then a springboard elbow to the neck for a nearfall. Eagles used a kneebreaker, continuing to target the left leg.
Eagles tried to whip Ospreay into the corner, but Ospreay's knee buckled. Ospreay hit a handspring kick, but got up selling his left knee. Ospreay hit a series of kicks, a top rope 619, then hit Pip Pip Cheerio for a nearfall.
Eagles hit a kneebreaker, but Ospreay hit an enziguri, as Eagles took a flip bump. Ospreay went for a Storm Breaker. Eagles countered into a Miller Special attempt, but Ospreay kicked him off.
Eagles teased a Pulse Drop, but Ospreay cut him off. With Eagles sitting on the top rope, Ospreay hit a handspring kick. With Eagles in the tree of woe, Ospreay sat on the mat in front of him. They traded slaps.
They climbed to the top rope, and Ospreay teased a dragon suplex. Eagles pushed him to the apron, where Ospreay then hit a dropkick, sending Eagles to the floor. Ospreay hit a corkscrew moonsault off the post to the floor. They did a countout tease, but Eagles made it back in at 19.
Back inside, Ospreay hit a dropkick, then an inverted Bloody Sunday DDT. He then hit a Robinson Special. He went for an Oscutter off the turnbuckle, but Eagles cut him off with a Pulse Drop, into a double down.
From their knees, they traded forearm strikes. Back on their feet, they continued to trade. Eagles went for Turbo Backpack. Ospreay kicked him off. Ospreay hit a powerbomb, then hit a Liger Bomb for a nearfall.
Ospreay went to the top rope. ELP grabbed Ospreay's ankle, giving Eagles enough time to recover. He hit a top rope rana, but missed a follow-up 450 splash.
Ospreay hit a hook kick, then climbed the ropes with Eagles in the electric chair. Ospreay hit an iconoclasm for a nearfall. He called for an Oscutter. ELP slid a chair into the ring. Ospreay used an O'Connor roll for a nearfall.
Eagles went for a dive to Ospreay, but took out ELP. Eagles hit a 450 with Ospreay draped over the ropes. He hit Turbo Backpack. He covered for a two count, then pulled Ospreay into the Miller Special. After a long struggle, Ospreay reached the ropes.
Eagles went for a springboard attack, but he jumped into an Oscutter. Ospreay hit a second Oscutter. Red Shoes went to count the pin, but ELP pulled him out of the ring.
ELP attacked Ospreay. He teased hitting him with his title belt, but Eagles stopped him. Ospreay hit ELP with a hook kick, and Red Shoes climbed back into the ring. Eagles threw the belt away at the 30 minute mark.
They traded shots in the middle of the ring. Eagles backed Ospreay into the corner with kicks. He went for Turbo Backpack, but Ospreay hit a dragon suplex. Ospreay hit a destroyer for a nearfall.
Eagles escaped a Storm Breaker. Ospreay hit a hook kick. He went for Storm Breaker again, but Eagles dropped into a poison rana for a nearfall. Eagles hit a tornado DDT for a nearfall, then went to the top. He hit a 450 to the leg. He went for a cover, but Ospreay used an inside cradle for a nearfall.
Ospreay hit a standing Spanish Fly for a nearfall, then hit a shooting star press, but Eagles kicked out at one. Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade, then Storm Breaker, and got the pin.
I liked their Best of the Super Jrs. match better, but this was the best thing on the show by a wide margin, and an instant classic.
Eagles dropped ELP with a forearm to the face after the match, then shook hands with Ospreay.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA & HIROSHI TANAHASHI DEFEATED JAY WHITE & BAD LUCK FALE
Okada and Fale had a short exchange, ending in a stalemate. Tana and White tagged in, and Tana worked a side headlock. After a rope break, White used Red Shoes to set a screen, then hit a kick. Tana came back with a crossbody off the second rope.
White dumped Tana to the floor with a Saito suplex. On the other side of the arena, Fale went after Okada, posting him. Fale tossed Tana back inside, and White raked his eyes. Fale tagged in, and used clubbing forearms to work over Tanahashi.
Tana tried for a sunset flip, but Fale sat on his chest for a nearfall. Fale and White used a series of quick tags, continuing to work over Tana. White used a chinlock, then hit an inverted dragon screw. White used a Muta Lock, but Okada jumped in to break it up. Fale entered, then sent Okada back to the floor.
Tana finally managed a tag to Okada. Okada hit a DDT to Fale, kipped up, then knocked White off the apron. Okada hit a back elbow in the corner. He pushed Fale into the corner, and slammed him on the rebound. Okada got a one count.
Okada went to the top rope, but Gedo provided a distraction, and Fale press slammed Okada. White got a tag, and hit a snap Saito suplex. White missed a charge into the corner, and Okada hit an air raid crash, into a double down.
Tana got a tag. He blocked a kick, then hit a pair of dragon screws. Tana locked on a cloverleaf, but White immediately grabbed the bottom rope. Tana went for slingblade. White hit him with chops. Tana no-sold them.
White hit a flatliner, while Fale continued to work on Okada on the floor. White hit a Bladebuster and a deadlift German for a nearfall, then a uranage for another, as Okada broke up the pinfall.
White went for a Blade Runner. After an extended series of counters, Tana hit Twist and Shout. After a double down, both tagged out.
Okada hit a shotgun dropkick. Fale blocked a slam, then hit a shoulder tackle. Fale hit a splash for a two count. He picked Okada up for a Grenade, but Tana saved.
The match broke down. White hit a dragon screw to Tana. Okada hit White with a big boot. Fale went for the Bad Luck Fall, but Okada slipped out, then hit a dropkick. White jumped in. Okada tried for a dropkick, but missed.
Okada went for a Rainmaker on White, but White slipped out. Tana hit slingblade on White. Tana and Okada hit a double suplex on Fale, and Tana took out White and Gedo with a pescado.
Okada hit Fale with a top rope elbow. Okada escaped a Grenade, and hit a spinning Rainmaker. He connected with a second Rainmaker, then pinned Fale.
This was essentially a slightly elevated house show main event.
Okada and Tanahashi had a brief faceoff after the match, ahead of their G1 matchup next weekend, then posed on the ropes.
Okada cut a promo in English after the match. He shouted out Australia, then Melbourne, specifically. The crowd chanted "best in the world". Okada said "yes we are", then "yes I am". He thanked the crowd, and said he will see them again.
He closed his promo in Japanese, promising to return to Melbourne.