It may have taken a fortnight to make tape, but FTR and Aussie Open had a lot of buzz coming out of Royal Quest 2 – let’s take a look!
New Japan taking a fortnight to upload these shows will have taken a lot of air out of the proverbial balloon – the wrestling landscape moves stupidly quick, and the live buzz coming out of this match has long since evaporated. The call to not stream these shows live is one thing, but to have this long a turnaround… yeah. Anyway, I hear complaining is like breathing to us British, so let’s head to the main event of night one. We’re live via tape from the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London… commentary in post comes via Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) (c)
This one’s been hyped for a long ol’ while, and with this being FTR’s first defence of the IWGP tag titles (that they won back at Forbidden Door), there’s more than a handful of people who thought Aussie Open would be leaving with two sets of New Japan tag titles…
FTR entered through the crowd, which gave us a fun moment with the cameras scattering wondering how to shoot it. Curiously, FTR’s AAA titles didn’t seem to make it through customs. We’ve duelling chants before the bell, because of course we should, as we’ve got the big fight feel seeping through. Anyway, we get going with Fletcher and Harwood trading headlock takedowns and escapes, before Cash Wheeler came in and traded side headlocks with Fletcher.
A shoulder tackle from Fletcher dumped Wheeler, who then escaped a slam before a Fireman’s carry and armdrag took Fletcher to the mat. Kyle slammed out of that as Davis got the tag in… running into a drop toe hold before he backed off as Harwood returned. Those two lock-up into the corner, where Davis stung Dax with chops, and Dax is already leaking from his chest!
Davis gets his response as Dax’s chops just fired up the Aussie some more, before a slam and a back enton squashed Harwood. Davis is bleeding too from those chops, as Fletcher tagged in to capitalise on a wounded Harwood. Dax chops Fletcher into the corner, then snap suplexed him out as a legdrop earned a two-count. Wheeler’s back for a quick double-team to keep the champions ahead, before Fletcher charged Cash into the Aussie Open corner as a brief mauling was shrugged off.
Wheeler whips Davis into the corner for a leaping back elbow, before Fletcher made a save and headed outside, where FTR got charged into each other with a super collider. Chops from Fletcher keep the challengers ahead, as Kyle then charged Dax off the apron… only for Cash to strike back with chops and a back suplex. A sunset flip from Cash is broken up with a tag out, but Kyle charged at Dax Harwood in the corner as those two went at it until Davis ran over to make the save. Davis misses back sentons on Wheeler, who rolled away, but Kyle Fletcher hits the ring to knock Harwood off the apron. Cash takes Kyle up top for a back superplex a la Razor Ramon, but still he can’t make the tag out to Dax as Davis pulled Harwood off the apron just in time. That split crowd suddenly turned a little on Aussie Open as Fletcher looked to put Wheeler away with a brainbuster… but it’s not enough.
Davis comes in to wear down Wheeler with chops, but an uppercut bought Cash time, as he eventually broke free of the Aussies’ grip and made the hot tag to Dax. Harwood surprises Kyle with an inside cradle for a two-count, then an O’Connor roll and a crossbody out of the corner for two more, before a series of clotheslines from Dax dropped Davis. We’ve crossed the quarter-hour mark as Dax breaks out the rolling German suplexes, with Cash Wheeler breaking up an attempted block as the hattrick gets Dax a near-fall. The Aussies’ double-team sitout powerbomb’s broken up as FTR cleared the ring, leading to Cash hitting a wild tope into the aisle through the Aussies.
The two teams brawl around ringside as Dax posted Davis, before Davis slingshotted Harwood into the lighting rig… and that’s led to blood streaming from Dax’s forehead. An elbow strike from Davis dropped Harwood ahead of an Alphamare Waterslide, complete with extra spins for a near-fall. The double-team sit-out powerbomb is again broken up by FTR, as Harwood put on the brakes as Wheeler’s crossbody took out Davis… while Dax waited to hit a slingshot sit-out powerbomb on Kyle so we could get a cute dual two-count. Uhh, why?!
Dax takes Fletcher up top for a superplex, but the Power and Glory finisher’s broken up by Davis, who tagged in as Aussie Open instead tried it… but it goes Sour and Gory for them as Dax got the knees up, while Davis did the same as Wheeler tried to capitalise. Clotheslines clear the ring as Dax tries to snatch a win with a rebound backslide, only for Davis to kick out as Dax then set up for a spike piledriver that drew yet another near-fall. Fletcher rolls outside and posed with the IWGP tag title belt, then brought it into the ring… but Dax stopped him with a tug of war, which Wheeler capitalised on with a roll-up on Davis. From the kick-out, Cash is propelled into an “accidental” belt shot from Kyle, which the referee missed before turning around to count yet another near-fall on things. We keep upping the ante with a moonsault from Fletcher to Dax on the floor, before the Aussies finally his that double-team Fly Swatter/sit-out powerbomb… and yes, Wheeler kicks out as we pass the 25-minute mark.
An assisted Aussie Arrow’s escaped as Wheeler found a second wind, dumping Fletcher in the corner with a Gory Bomb… a blind tag brought Davis in, but FTR seemed to miss it as Davis came up bloody from a kick. The bloody two square off and trade strikes, falling to their knees for chops before Dax tripped Davis for a Sharpshooter. Fletcher tries to make a save, but got rolled into a Sharpshooter too, before Fletcher crawled to Davis, grabbed his hand to stop him tapping, then slapped Davis to fire him up and into the ropes.
Fletcher spears Wheeler to avoid a Big Rig, as a turnaround instead allowed Aussie Open to hit the Big Rig instead for a near-fall. We’re at the half hour mark now, with all four men back on their feet trading boo/yay forearms. It pushes the Aussies back in front, as Cash breaks up a Coriolis and then leapt over Fletcher who dove to the outside. That leaves Davis on his own as leapfrogs take him into a Big Rig… and that’s enough for FTR to escape with the win.
Result: Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler pinned Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis in 31:59 to retain the IWGP Heavyweight tag team championships (****½)
I’d seen a lot of people throwing the full-five at this… and live, being in the moment, I’d have been tempted. This was a match that had been built via social media and the odd touch points along the way through AEW and New Japan Strong, which led to a rabid crowd in London… one that went in cheering both sides, but in the end put their allegiance behind FTR over the duo that had spent their last few years developing and blossoming on the UK scene. These teams will absolutely meet again, and barring anything screwy, this has the potential to be a rivalry for the ages.