The Fighting Spirit Unleashed tour wrapped up as KENTA put his IWGP US title shot on the line against Jeff Cobb.
ACH & TJP pinned Adrian Quest & Logan Riegel in 9:20 (***½)
Rocky Romero submitted Danny Limelight in 8:10 (***)
Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga pinned PJ Black & David Finlay in 9:20 (***)
KENTA pinned Jeff Cobb in 18:00 to retain his IWGP United States Championship title shot (***¼)
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are on commentary – they run down the card for tonight, and then we’re pitched to the ring.
Adrian Quest & Logan Riegel vs. TJP & ACH
Commentary seemed to be suggesting that TJP and ACH were being positioned as a regular tandem, and we start with ACH and Riegel.
It’s a bright start for Logan, who used a leg lock to take down ACH for a one-count, before a dropkick took ACH into the corner. ACH comes back with a cartwheel into a dropkick, before dragging Riegel into the corner to tag in TJP. An easy slam has Riegel down for a senton atomico, but Logan’s back with an armdrag as Quest tagged in next.
Quest works the arm, but TJP spins out with headscissors, only for a springboard corkscrew press from Quest to take him back down. TJP bounced back with a submission attempt, but Quest gets out and went for one of his own… only for TJP to instantly get to the ropes. TJP swings onto the apron to confuse as he returned fire with a Muta lock on Quest, before he let go and snapped back on the arm instead.
ACH returns with some chops for a two-count, following up with a slam, before TJP returned, going back to the arm as he kept looking for a submission. The Three Amigos look to follow, but Quest escapes and hits an enziuiri… he can’t tag out to Riegel quite yet, as he had to hit a ‘rana before both men tagged out. Riegel goes for ACH and TJP with uppercuts in the corner, following up with a roll through neckbreaker to ACH and a Slingblade on the edge of the ring to TJP. A crucifix pin gets a two-count, before ACH pushed away a DDT, sweeping the leg ahead of a low dropkick as the veteran team swung back into control.
A blind tag brings Quest back in, as he helps Riegel into an assisted DDT on ACH for a near-fall. TJP needs to make the save, but ACH comes back with a DDT of his own before tagging TJP back in. A Detonation kick is avoided as Quest shoves TJP in the corner… but can’t follow up as he’s crotched on the top rope and set up for a big stomp. Somehow Quest kicks out from that… ACH tags in as TJP went for Riegel on the outside. Quest tries a roll-up, but ACH kicks out, then ate a rear spin kick before Quest hit ACH’s knees from a Phoenix splash. A brainbuster from ACH turns it back around for a near-fall, before a lofty frog splash got the win. Pretty solid stuff, with ACH and TJP dictating the pace – and reining in the high flying until they needed it. ***½
Danny Limelight vs. Rocky Romero
Rocky sees big things in Limelight’s future – will that future start with an upset win here?
We start with a lock-up as Rocky looked to take control, eventually doing so with a wristlock as he rolled Limelight to the mat. Limelight tries to counter back, but he’s met with a dropkick before he had to fight out another wristlock. The pair trade kicks, but Limelight backflips over Rocky en route to a dropkick as Romero seemed to be stunned.
A wild twisting Fosbury flop caught Rocky unawares on the floor, leading to a two-count when they got back inside. Limelight keeps going with kicks, but Rocky’s back with chops and a slam that led to a punt in the back. A brainbuster’s next for just a one-count, as Rocky grounds Limelight with a chinlock, then took him upside down with a Gory special. The submission attempt came to nought though, as Rocky returns with elbows before he got caught with a lifting reverse DDT for a near-fall.
Rocky catches a head kick from Limelight as he makes a comeback with some strikes, leading to Forever clotheslines. A lariat leaves both men down, but Rocky’s back up first, dropping Limelight in the ropes for a dropkick that picks up another two-count. More kicks lead to a Shiranui attempt, but Limelight flips free and KO’s Rocky with a head kick, before a Fisherman buster dumped Romero for a near-fall. Limelight went for a springboard tornado DDT, but it’s blocked as Rocky comes back in with a running Shiranui before the Diablo armbar forced the submission. Pretty solid stuff, if not spectacular, as Limelight showed some promise, only to fall to the veteran. ***
Time for adverts. That’s pretty cool… then an announcement about NJPW Strong next week. Lion’s Break Crown is the new “tour”, but they don’t tell us anything else.
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. David Finlay & PJ Black
It’s the first time the Guerrillas have teamed in a New Japan ring (for 2-on-2 action at least) since they dropped the IWGP tag titles back in February at Korakuen Hall.
Of course, a little earlier that month, the Guerrillas beat David Finlay (alongside Juice Robinson) in Atlanta to win the IWGP tag titles, so there’s some old beef here. Black and Tama Tonga start the match, with Tama getting armdragged across the ring before he came back to work on PJ’s arm, wringing it until another armdrag from Black took him outside. Tama wants to face Finlay, and gets his wish, only to get taken down with a waistlock as the Guerrillas just couldn’t get going here. More stalling led to a lock-up as Tama grabs the hair to take Finlay into the ropes… the ref forces a break, and admonishes Tama as Tanga grabbed the hair next, before Finlay came back in with a leapfrog/dropkick.
Black’s back with a stomp to the arm as he and Finlay exchanged frequent tags to aggravate the arm further. A side headlock takes Tama to the mat, but after the push off, Tama blind-tags out to Tanga Loa, who comes in to catch Finlay from behind. Finlay’s thrown outside as he ends up getting slammed on the floor before a stalling suplex from Tanga Loa led to another two-count. Tama’s back in with a neckbreaker, before he attacked Black on the apron. Some right hands wear down Finlay, who’s snapmared for a chinlock. Tama switches up for a back suplex, but Finlay floats out and returns with a European uppercut from the middle rope as tags bring in Black and Tanga Loa.
A leg lariat drops Tanga, as does a punch, before a springboard crossbody almost ended things. PJ’s springboard moonsault keeps the two-counts coming, but Tama Tonga crotches him up top as he looked to take to the skies. Finlay looks to powerbomb away Tama Tonga, but instead gets caught with Guerrilla Warfare before PJ leapt into Tama… Tanga Loa hits back with a running Samoan drop, before dropping PJ with Apeshit for the win. Pretty by-the-numbers, but a win’s a win for the Guerrillas who immediately re-establish themselves on this show. ***
They play a video pack to summarise how we got to tonight’s main event – with Jeff Cobb challenging KENTA for the shot at the US title he won through the New Japan Cup USA tournament win earlier this year.
Jeff Cobb vs. KENTA
Their only prior singles match came in the semi-final a few weeks ago – and with both men in opposite blocks in the G1, it’ll be a while before their next match. Those G1 inclusions weren’t mentioned in commentary, for those wondering…
KENTA rolls outside at the bell, a la Jay White, as Alex Koslov made damn sure to pause for just long enough as he called KENTA a “master baiter.” He takes his time to stretch, winding up Cobb in doing so. When he finally got to the ring, he stung Cobb with kicks to the quad, looking to stop the dead man in his tracks with a dead leg. Cobb gets mad and charges KENTA into the corner, but from the break KENTA goes back to the leg. A rake to the eyes blinds Cobb, but he’s able to hit back with a forearm, then a headbutt, as he began to slow the pace down in his favour, taking time between each shot. KENTA Kicks back, but runs into an overhead belly-to-belly that almost saw him land on his dome before he rolled to the outside.
Cobb tries to follow him outside, but KENTA chop blocks the knee from the floor, then ran back in to punch the knee some more. He keeps trying to give Cobb the charley horse, following up with a drop toe hold and more knees to the bad leg. It’s not spectacular stuff, but it’s getting the job done. More kicks keep the focus on Cobb’s leg as a trip leads to a leglock, which ends in the ropes… so KENTA leaps on the knee in the ropes, but he gets fed up of having his leg kicked on as he fired up with a clothesline to drop KENTA to the mat. Cobb hobbles towards KENTA for some chops and forearms in the corner, leaving KENTA laying. KENTA pulls himself up but can only watch Cobb hobble towards him for a clothesline, but a low dropkick has Cobb back on the deck and in familiar territory.
KENTA drags Cobb in from the apron for Jado’s Green Killer DDT. Ironic, because Cobb’s probably more mobile than Jado right now. He follows up with a running front kick, then a hesitation dropkick in the corner, before Cobb avoids a stomp. Cobb picks up KENTA for a Samoan drop, before an attempt at Tour of the Islands ended with KENTA grabbing the ref. A forearm drops KENTA though, who then pulled the ref into Cobb’s path. With no ref, Cobb’s dumped with a DDT, as KENTA then went under the ring for a chair. Cobb ducks a chairshot and charges KENTA into the corner for some shoulder charges, before a Spin Cycle dropped KENTA in the middle of the ring. Yet again, we’ve a visual pinfall for Cobb, but there’s no ref…
Cobb goes to check on the ref, but he wanders into a low blow from KENTA before the Go 2 Sleep was avoided. A Tour of the Islands follow, but this time Cobb can’t roll onto KENTA for the pin… by the time the referee starts counting, Chase Owens runs out to pull out the ref, and now it’s ridiculous. Owens attacks Cobb, but can’t use the briefcase as a weapon… KENTA does though, clocking Cobb from behind before a PK and a Go 2 Sleep gets the win. This was a solid match, but the shenanigans at the end felt like it was there for the sake of it. KENTA retains the shot at the IWGP US title – but with no word on when that’ll ever be parlayed into something… and with KENTA in Japan for the G1, the answer is “not anytime soon”. ***¼
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are apoplectic over the Bullet Club interferences… we then go backstage to the usual post-match comments as Chase Owens hypes up KENTA, and the show goes off the air with no word on what’s happening next week. I guess with the G1, it’ll be second fiddle for a lot of folks!
A perfectly adequate hour-or-so of TV here, with KENTA frustrating Cobb before he took the cheater’s way to victory. It’s not spectacular TV, especially given the voids of silence that permeate the show, but if you like your meat and potatoes wrestling, this will be right up your alley.