New Japan’s Aussie double-header wrapped up in Sydney as Robbie Eagles completed his exit from Bullet Club.
Yeah, a near two-month turnaround this isn’t great. This show wasn’t even streamed live at the time, so the tape of this became almost a holy grail for some. Commentary from the Roundhouse in Sydney comes from Don Marnell and the wonderfully-named Concrete Davidson.
Andrew Villalobos & Michael Richards vs. Natural Classics (Stevie Filip & Tome Filip)
Villalobos and Richards are Fale Dojo trainees, while the Natural Classics get an overdub. I think it’ll be the first of many tonight…
Stevie Filip and Andrew Villalobos start us off with the basics, as a headlock from Stevie quickly gave way to a takedown and a stand-off. Tags bring in Tome Filip and put-together Michael Richards, with Richards landing a big shoulder tackle before he got taken down with an armdrag. Chops keep Richards in the corner as the Filip brothers worked well, with Stevie hitting a handspring back senton that almost went horribly awry. I was getting flashbacks to the Hayabusa injury with that one…
There’s a turnaround as Tome’s taken into the ropes by Villalobos, as an exchange of forearms and swears broke out, until Villalobos hit a butterfly suplex for a two-count. Richards returns as Tome’s cornered, but a Boston crab’s shoved away as Richards responded with a back elbow for a near-fall. Tome eventually fought back with a springboard whisper in the wind to get him free as Stevie got the hot tag back in.
Stevie leaps in, launching into Richards with an uppercut off the top before a slam and a leaping elbow was followed up with a nice dropsault combo for a near-fall. Villalobos intervenes as Richards’ back suplex turned the tide again… another Boston crab awaits for Tome and there’s the submission! I’m surprised the Young Lion duo got the win, but this was a pretty solid opener. The Filip brothers had some good flashes, save for a scary moment early on, and I’d not be shocked if the Fale dojo lads made it onto a New Japan tour soon. **¾
Tony Kozina vs. Rocky Romero
More overdubs! Kozina’s repping the Fale Dojo as a trainer, having been around the block in his two-decade career.
Rocky starts out with a go-behind, but Kozina gets free with a takedown before he batted his chewing gum around. Rocky gets his own back, tripping up Kozina on a drop down as the veteran sailed to the outside, but Rocky’s dive was for nought as he aborted things in the nick of time. Kozina’s back in, but gets chopped into the corner, before a whip into the corner had Kozina recoil into a back body drop. A knee drop to the arm off the middle rope’s next, but Kozina trips Rocky into the turnbuckles as some punches from above sparked some “Gillberg” chants from the Sydney crowd. Well, Tony looks a lot more like him that Brendan White…
Clubbing forearms and elbows from Kozina eventually prompt Rocky into a comeback, but he ran into a back body drop and a double stomp to the gut as Kozina was looking to out-sneaky the king of sneaky style. Things slow down with a chinlock on the mat, as Rocky again fought back with forearms, followed up with a not-so-sneaky poke to the eye. Rocky rolls back the clock some more, hanging himself up in the ropes as Kozina leapt into him… and took a nasty spill when Rocky got out of the way. Back in the ring, Kozina’s hung in the ropes for a springboard dropkick to the side of the head for a near-fall, following in with Forever Lariats until Kozina spilled out of the corner, doing a headstand for the shits and giggles.
A hotshot from Kozina catches Rocky in the ropes, with a springboard forearm and a piledriver catching Rocky unawares for a near-fall. Rocky’s able to respond with a tornado DDT and a Falcon arrow… turning it into a cross armbreaker on impact as Kozina was forced to tap. A good, old-school style match with Kozina throwing in some wacky landings to try and make himself stand out. It worked. ***
Jack Bonza vs. Mick Moretti
Jack Bonza is such a wonderfully Australian name, isn’t it? He’s put over as a pillar of the Aussie scene, compared to Mick Moretti, who’d recently come back from a tour of America – having featured early on the Discovery Gauntlet for Beyond Wrestling. Moretti gets an overdub, which was one of the New Japan interval themes as their well is running a little dry here…
Bonza eventually went in for a handshake at the bell, but Moretti countered with a backslide for an opening two-count as the Rapscallion was looking to end this early… before some bouncing headstands had Bonza bail to the outside. Back inside, Bonza took down Moretti with a wristlock, but there’s an escape and a reversal as the pair seamlessly went back-and-forth. Shoulder tackles keep Bonza down, before a dropkick through the ropes just angered him as a back elbow decks Moretti. A kick in the corner keeps Moretti on the mat for an eventual two-count, before a snapmare and a kick to the back… just seemed to spur on Moretti. He wants more, and gets them as he began to fight back, landing forearms before a clothesline to the back of the head had him down again.
Bonza keeps up with a pendulum backbreaker for a two-count, before a Dominator got turned into a Gory special as Bonza began to stretch Moretti for fun. That turned into a pinning attempt, but Moretti sits up out of it… then got powerbombed as Bonza was aghast. Moretti somehow fought back, countering a suplex into a Fisherman buster as Bonza took time to jawjack w th the crowd, and there’s your comeback. An uppercut from Moretti puts Bonza in the corner, following in with a neckbreaker for a two-count. That’s followed up with a curb stomp and a knee strike for a near-fall, only for Bonza to retaliate with an ankle lock… which Moretti somehow countered into a cradle for a near-fall, before a Moretti sent Bonza scurrying outside with his weirdness.
This time, Moretti followed him outside with a cannonball off the apron, following up back inside with a crossbody that turned into a reverse DDT as Bonza caught him… but couldn’t keep his balance. Another exchange ends with a powerbomb from Bonza, before Moretti’s snap Dragon suplex led to a near-fall as both men were looking the worse for wear. Moretti went for a La Mistica, but Bonza counters with an ankle lock again, switching into a STF before they ended up in the ropes. GOOD GOD. Out of nowhere, Bonza gets the win with a Steiner screwdriver that makes me stand up and swear… they got a little off towards the end, but this was a great little match. The first time I’ve really seen Bonza, and I wasn’t disappointed. ***½
Aaron Solow vs. Chase Owens
Solow was on the wrong end of things against Slex… and hopefully can get a W on this tour against Chase Owens here.
Chase pie-faces Solow before the bell, and almost lost to a roll-up as Solow fought back, taking him outside… but instead waited for Chase to pratfall back into the ring. A ‘rana takes Chase into the ropes ahead of a lucha armdrag, as some chops keep Chase very much on the back foot.
Owens took Solow into the ropes, and pulled him throat-first into the top strand to turn things around. A back elbow decks a running Solow, as does a neckbreaker as Chase slowed the pace, taking things outside as he trolled the fans by teasing a guard rail spot… only to roll Solow back into the ring. Chase keeps it simple with a grounded headlock on Solow, but he gets free and quickly fought back, rolling through Chase into a double stomp.
A running enziguiri traps Owens in the corner, as Solow proceeds to go up top for another flying stomp, squashing Chase for a two-count. Out of nowhere, Chase lands a superkick before he rolled Solow through into a fireman’s carry gutbuster, but there’s no cover as both men were winded. Chase collects himself and set up for a running knee that gets a lackadaisical two-count, before he called for a package piledriver.
Solow back body drops his way free, and came close with a T-bone suplex, before he went up top… and got crotched as Chase pushed the ref into the ropes. From there, it’s threatened to be all Chase as a roll-through uppercut led to a superplex attempt, which came off as Chase almost got pinned as Solow cradled him on impact. Solow keeps trying to sneak it with a roll-up, but the match descended into a flurry of strikes, ending with a rebound lariat as Chase finally ended the series. It’s all elementary from there though, as Chase lands a knee strike before he compressed Solow with a package piledriver… and that’s all. Perfectly acceptable graps as Chase was made to work for his win. ***
Juice Robinson, Toru Yano & Mikey Nicholls vs. Bullet Club (Gino Gambino & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Juice makes fun of Gino before the bell, with Gambino claiming the “Juice” chants for himself…
We start with shtick as Yano’s taken into the ropes by Gambino, before the goofiness ended with Jado cracking Yano on the back with a Kendo stick as things quickly swung around. On the outside, Juice took a suplex on the floor as bedlam broke out, before settling down as the Bullet Club trio worked over Yano.
Gambino’s quickly brought back in to score a two-count after the GOD landed a double-team neckbreaker… before he tagged back out so the Guerrillas could do some more damage… and he begged again to tag in. Wash, rinse, repeat. Yano keeps kicking out, but began to fight back against Tama Tonga, pulling him down by the hair as Juice and Nicholls came in to wear down the tag team champions.
Nicholls lands a Big Ending on Tanga Loa, followed by a back senton from Juice… but Tama Tonga’s Tongan Twist keeps things certainly uncertain as the back-and-forth ended with Gambino running through Nicholls. Yano goes for the turnbuckle pads… which Gino picked up, and eventually put to use as he swatted through Yano with it. Home run! A big splash follows for a near-fall, before Jado looked to get involved, running in with the Kendo stick for Yano… but Juice stops him in his tracks, catching the stick before busting out some Dusty punches and a Left Hand of God. Juice commandeers the stick, but Tama Tonga recovers it as the Kendo stick became a hot potato. Gambino gets it, only for the referee to disarm him as a low blow and a roll-up ought to have gotten the win. The ref’s horribly out of position, but turns around anyway and counts Gambino’s arse to the mat rather than the shoulders for the win. Eh, this was what it was – the comedy worked, but this was largely a night off for everyone. **
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toa Henare
This could get tasty in a hurry, especially since these two had a banger in their only prior singles outing as part of the Road to Wrestling Dontaku tour in 2018 (night ten, if you’re looking it up).
Henare goes in with a headlock early as we start with shoulder tackles with both men looking to show their dominance. Ishii wrecks Henare with chops in the corner, but the Kiwi isn’t withering away, instead firing back until he got chopped in the throat. Oof. There’s more of those before Ishii cracks in with headbutts. Henare has more chops, but a single one in return takes him down, as did a shoulder tackle, as Ishii began to toy with his foe. Forearms come in return, but Ishii’s clearly got Henare’s number until he ran into a stalling back body drop. That looked nasty! Some rope running from Henare pays dividends as a shoulder tackle puts the NEVER champion down, as did a flying shoulder tackle off the top, which nearly got Henare the win.
Ishii sandbags himself on a suplex, as the pair instead go back to trading strikes, with Ishii absorbing forearm strikes before throwing his own back. Henare looks the worse for wear, and eventually is felled as Ishii stood tall… only for a follow-up suplex to get blocked as Henare hoisted up Ishii and finally took him down! That’s followed up with an atomic drop before Henare landed the spear rugby tackle for a near-fall. Ishii returns with a German suplex to send Henare into the buckles. There’s a nice save as Henare lifted Ishii onto the turnbuckles as he looked wobbly on a Samoan drop, instead looking to land one of those off the top rope, only for Ishii to fight free and land a sunset bomb off the top for a near-fall!
Henare leans back to avoid a sliding lariat, as he instead looked to fight back with a clothesline of his own. Ishii’s headbutt stops that as he hit the ropes and spun Henare down with a clothesline for a near-fall… Henare’s got something left in his tank as he mounted another flurry, decking Ishii with a headbutt, as another lariat drew another two-count for the Kiwi. From there, Henare looked for the Toa Bottom, but Ishii slips out and lands another elbow strike. There’s receipts from Henare in the form of palm strikes, until a leaping enziguiri dropped him as the sliding lariat followed for another two-count… with a sheer-drop brainbuster following seconds later for the win. A pretty straightforward win for Ishii as Henare again showed he could hang with the Stone Pitbull – but you have to wonder when the chance will come for Henare to break out of the pack. ***½
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Jay White & Robbie Eagles) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & Hiroshi Tanahashi
On the prior evening’s show, Robbie Eagles laid out El Phantasmo after his interference backfired… yet tonight he’s part of Bullet Club. In a very strained way.
After all the introductions, its Ospreay and Eagles who start us off, with Eagles taking the IWGP junior champion into the corner from the opening tie-up. Ospreay returns the favour, taking Eagles to the ropes, but he cheapshots the Aussie as Ospreay looked to play the villain here over the hometown hero, taking Eagles down with a chop. Eagles fights back with a ‘rana and a kick to take Ospreay down, as more chops flung Will into the ropes, only for Ospreay to come back with a huge monkey flip as this stuff was too quick to call. Jay White blind tags himself in as Eagles went for a dive, showing our first signs of dissension. Hiroshi Tanahashi got the first tag in, as Ospreay built up to it… and here’s our WrestleKingdom rematch of sorts!
White pulls the hair to get out of a headlock, but Tanahashi borrows the idea before he landed a shoulder tackle and pulled out the old air guitar. Tanahashi looks for a springboard crossbody, but just got dumped outside as the match spills outside, with chops from White weakening the Ace as the camera crew couldn’t keep up. Back in the ring, Fale tags in to drop an elbow on Tanahashi for a two-count, before a shoulder tackle put Fale through Tanahashi as the Ace was just being worn down. Frequent tags bring in White, then Eagles – with Robbie rather half-heartedly sticking the boot in – as the Switchblade grounded Tanahashi with a chinlock.
Tanahashi fought back with elbows, before he caught a kick to tease a Dragon screw with… but instead it’s White who lands it. A Twist and Shout got Tanahashi back in as they built into the hot tag to Okada… and Sydney goes wild! Forearms to White led to a sliding back elbow from Okada, who cleared Fale off the apron… then took Eagles down with a flapjack for good measure. Okada refocuses on White, landing a DDT for a two-count, before a snap Saito suplex sent Okada into the corner. An uppercut and a Blade Buster suplex nearly got the shock win, prompting White to pull up Okada for a Blade Runner… it’s almost countered into a Rainmaker, as Okada instead followed in with a dropkick.
Tags get us back to Eagles and Ospreay, and they’re white hot again as they exchange elbows back-and-forth, ending with Eagles crashing into Ospreay with a diving uppercut to the back. Eagles keeps up on Ospreay with running knees in the corner for a two-count, before an attempt at the Turbo Backpack was thwarted, with Ospreay returning fire with an enziguiri. Ospreay takes to the skies with a springboard forearm for a two-count, before a Storm Breaker was flipped out of as the Bullet Club came in to triple-team the Brit. The Ron Miller special followed from Eagles, trapping Ospreay in the middle of the ring, but Ospreay somehow manages to drag his way to the rope. From there, Eagles heads up for a 450 splash to the leg… but Ospreay rolled away and ran back in with a standing Spanish Fly instead.
Fale distracts the ref as Gedo comes in with the brass knuckles… Ospreay ducks it, then laid out Eagles with a hook kick before landing one to White as a Parade of Moves broke out. That all ends with a double-team suplex to Fale before another hook kick, a Hidden Blade and a Storm Breaker put Eagles away… and that’s the win for the good guys of New Japan. A fun house show main event – with everyone bringing their greatest hits. ***¼
After the match, the Bullet Club trio attacked Ospreay, Okada and Tanahashi – focusing particularly on Ospreay. Jay White tried to get Robbie Eagles to underscore things with a chair shot… but instead he throws the chair down to the mat. White slaps him and looked to do it himself, but a superkick stopped the Switchblade as Tanahashi sent Gedo packing.Eagles offers a handshake to Ospreay, who accepts, before the pair cracked White with superkicks before the Switchblade ate everyone’s finishers to send the crowd home happy.
Southern Showdown in Sydney was a solid house show from New Japan – a card that wouldn’t look amiss on many of the Japanese tour stops. While this show lacked a match that broke away from the pack, it did have a big angle at the end of it in the Robbie Eagles turn, as the Aussie is now a part of CHAOS. Weighing in at a shade over two hours, this show was an easy watch, with pretty much every match coming in under 15 minutes long – complete with some real good commentary from Don Marnell, who made a heck of a name for himself with his performances here.