New Japan Pro Wrestling
King of Pro-Wrestling 2018
October 8, 2018
Ryōgoku Kokugikan

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our reviewers:

  • Suit Williams: Suit is ready to find out a couple things tonight. Is X gonna give it to them? Will X deliver to them? Will they open up the door, be real, AND bring the pop, pop, the stainless steel? If you like what you read, you can see more of his thoughts on Twitter, @SuitWilliams. Listen to his podcast, Smark Sports, too. It’s on Apple Podcasts.
  • August Baker: August is X. @augustbaker12

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) (c) def. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV

Suit: Solid, fun opener. Part of me thought that Liger and Tiger would win the titles to heat things up for the Jr. Tag League, but that would’ve been an unnecessary switch. I’m glad that the Suzuki-gun bastards retained here. Just four pros going out there and having a heated opener, and Suzuki-gun gets another defense in their long title run. ***1/2

August: This was a fine opener, but not quite as good as their Destruction match. Liger and Tiger always get a good reaction, even for a Jr Tag opening match. It was a pretty typical Suzuki-Gun affair though, with an attack before the bell, whiskey bottles and whiskey spit, referee bumps, and all the other shenanigans we’re all familiar with. ***1/4

Great Bash Heel (Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe) def. Juice Robinson and Toa Henare

Suit: It’s a shame to see Juice down here after losing the US Title. Was David Finlay double booked? This is GBH’s first 2-on-2 match since before Honma’s injury, so this was a warmup for World Tag League later this year. Honma looks ok, but he’s still getting his sea legs under him. Kokeshi and a King Kong Knee Drop gets the win for GBH. **1/2

August: Honma has definitely lost a step or two since coming back, and while that’s understandable, it remains to be seen if that’s going to cost GBH during the tag league. GBH has dominated the tag league in the past, but their time on top may be at the end. Which makes me wonder what happens with Makabe. I went into this match pretty sure GBH was going to win, but Honma’s performance and Henare’s fire made me think we were going to get an upset. And in a relatively meaningless undercard tag like this, that’s all I ask for. ***1/2

Bullet Club OG (Guerrillas of Destiny, Taiji Ishimori, Bad Luck Fale) def. Bullet Club ELITE (The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, Chase Owens)

Suit: The Bucks are using their new music. It’s about as non-descript as their old music, but this one has Matt yelling about a Superkick Party. I forgot Taiji Ishimori was around, he’s really good. Matt’s back gave him problems, and I’ve got conflicting thoughts about it. I appreciate the thought and the attention to detail that Matt has, but it’s gotten annoyingly repetitive. Otherwise, this was a fun battle here. My boy Chase Owens got some shine toward the end against both Guerrillas, but a tag team Gun Stun gets the win for the OGs. ***1/4

August: This was a really fun match that gave some shine to the under-focused guys on these teams. Hangman and Ishimori both looked really good in their parts of this. The crowd was way more into this match then I expected, which just goes to show that even without Omega and Cody involved, this storyline is doing well. This was a pretty definitive win for the OG’s, so I’m not really sure what comes next. It might be time for the Bullet Club split to go on the backburner while the World Tag League happens and gets some more people in the mix.. ***3/4

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii) def. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Takashi Iizuka)

Suit: This was set as a preview of Ishii and Suzuki at Rev Pro’s Global Wars show in a week’s time, but it ended up being an elevation of Will Ospreay. He pinned the NEVER Openweight Champion Taichi clean as a sheet and challenged him to a title match afterward. Their short exchange during the match was fun, so I’m looking forward to that singles match, provided the SZG interference is limited. Ospreay scoring the fall was the most notable part of this match, as the rest was the typical Suzuki-gun brawling with a good Ishii/Suzuki exchange in the middle of it. ***

August: Boy do I not have any use for Iizuka. Goto took a long beatdown in this one and much of it at the hands of Iizuka. But business really picked up when Ishii and Suzuki went head to head to build up to their Rev Pro title match. The ending ruled. Ospreay pinned Taichi, with the Stormbreaker no less, while Goto urged him on, and raised the title over his head afterward. It was actually a pretty cool scene with Will flanked by Ishii and Goto, two fixtures of the NEVER title. The first half of the match kind of sucked, but the second half was good. ***

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, SHO, YOH) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI, Shingo Takagi)

Suit: As was expected, X was “The Dragon” Shingo Takagi. This is my first exposure to Shingo, as I am a fake puro fan boy. He’s about the size of Naito and SANADA, but coming from Dragon Gate, I’m not gonna be mad at him working with juniors. The announcers put over the Last Falconry like instant death, as Shingo pinned SHO with it to set up that possible match for the Junior Tag League. Good, fast paced stuff, and I can’t wait to see the whole team together when Hiromu comes back. ***1/2

August: Good grief, if the opening video package doesn’t convince you that LIJ are the coolest people in the world, you and I can’t be friends. This match was all about X, which was not, as I asserted in the bio, myself, but instead Shingo Takagi. Shingo got a lot of time at the beginning and the ending of the match, including the pinfall. This was a good debut for “The Dragon.” He got to display his moveset, join a powerful faction, and score a pin on one of the favorites of Jr Tag division. The debut made the rest of the match kind of lifeless, even some Naito/Okada exchanges didn’t feel super special. ***1/4

EVIL vs Zack Sabre Jr never starts as Chris Jericho attacks EVIL

Suit: EVIL is led out to the ring by the hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez, the same way he did at last year’s King of Pro Wrestling when he challenged Okada for the World Title. Unfortunately, one of the druids attacked him and unmasked to be Chris Jericho. The IWGP Intercontinental Champion (in case you forgot) laid out EVIL with the title as payback for EVIL running Jericho off at Dominion. The match was waved off, which sent Sabre into a Suzuki-esque rage, taking out the ref and young lions before stretching out EVIL. Naito then came in to run off Sabre in a heated exchange. A rare non-match, but we’ve got both EVIL/Jericho and Sabre/Naito set up for the future, which I certainly won’t complain about.

August: EVIL comes out with an entourage of eeeevil druids, riding his eeeeevil throne and gets ambushed before the match by eeeeeevil Chris Jericho. The match is ruled a No Contest, and Zack goes nuts, locking submissions on referees, trainers, young lions, anyone he can reach really, before focusing on EVIL. The crowd pops big when Naito comes in to make the save. On one hand, I’m bummed before I was really looking forward to this match. On the other hand, this angle ruled and sets up two more major matches, so I can’t complain too much. N/R

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
KUSHIDA def. Marty Scurll

Suit: During the opening exchanges, it was announced that Taiji Ishimori chose the Australian standout Robbie Eagles as his partner for the Junior Tag League. Here’s a thread of awesome Eagles matches to get you up to speed on what he brings to the table. This was pretty good, although neither man’s best stuff. The best stuff came toward the end, as Scurll stomped on KUSHIDA’s hand so he couldn’t put on the Hoverboard Lock. KUSHIDA was able to adapt and hit a Death Valley Driver before hitting Back To The Future to begin his sixth reign as Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Again, while it never reached that stellar level that other Jr. Title matches have, it was still pretty good stuff. ***3/4

August: I was expecting a lot of submissions in this one, but a lot of this match is worked with hard strikes instead. There’s a lot of “whoop whoop” in the crowd, which is understandable. It’s fun to do. They do eventually trade submission finishing moves, and Scrull hits, well, I guess it’s a package DDT, something I’ve never seen before. But it’s not enough, as KUSHIDA wins with his rolling Back to the Future. I really enjoyed this match. Some excellent back and forth, though it didn’t really elevate beyond really good. ****

IWGP Heavyweight Championship Briefcase
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White

Suit: This was a stellar match. It was much better than their outing at Wrestle Kingdom this year, mostly due to the crowd being so vehemently against Jay White now. Gedo played the Jimmy Hart role in Switchblade’s corner, being a pest and getting Tanahashi’s attention for White to take advantage. White went after Tanahashi’s knee, but Tanahashi came back with knee attacks of his own. Tana hit two High Fly Flows, but Gedo pulled the ref out before he could count three. There was chair stuff, Gedo tried to hit Tana with brass knuckles, and there were dueling low blows before Tana missed a High Fly Flow onto a chair. Switchblade then set up for the Bladerunner before Tana rolled him up and retained the title shot. Normally, I would be annoyed at the interference and the chair stuff, but it worked here. White won all of his G1 matches after using the chair, and with Gedo in his corner, I thought he was winning the case. But they got me. And with the crowd as hot as they were, this was a great match.

The post-match was great as well, as Okada ran off White and Gedo. Okada got his hands on Gedo before Jado showed up to calm him down. Then, Bullet Club OG came down and laid out Okada before letting Switchblade in to hit the Bladerunner on him. Bladerunner did the too sweet, seemingly entering him into the Bullet Club OGs. A great match, with a wild post-match angle to set up Switchblade/Okada for the Dome. Awesome stuff. ****1/4

August: I’m really pleased Jay White continues to throw people into the barricades in front of the announcers. This was by far the best of the three matches these two had this year. Watching White evolve this year and come into his character has been a real treat. The early and mid-match were well focused, with White continually taking shortcut attacks against Tanahashi’s knee. And the endgame was exciting, with a chair being put into play, Gedo interfering, and Tanahashi fighting the odds. I was even convinced more than once that White was going to pull out a win, particularly when Tanahashi High Fly Flowed himself on the exposed chair. But Tanahashi is too clever and got a roll-up win. I really liked this match. ****½

The real story though is after the match. I mentioned in the Bullet Club OG’s match that I wasn’t sure where they go from here. And we have some answers. Okada runs down to make the save on Tanahashi, then Jay White, Gedo, and Jado all join in as Tama Tonga and crew come out and beat down Okada. It was tremendously done, with the OG’s looking to give Okada a choice in attacking Gedo, and for just a second you think he’s going to refuse, then he goes for an attack but it was all a setup. It tosses you back and forth several times in quick succession until the final beatdown commences. The faction shake up is in commencement, with White, Gedo, and Jado joining the OG’s, and Tanahashi and Okada maybe forming an alliance?

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega (c) def. Cody and Kota Ibushi

Suit: Cody didn’t come out to silence, which was surprising. It was more, let’s say, polite applause. This went for a long time. And while it did feel like a long time, it was also better than I expected. Cody held up his end of the deal well enough, which sounded like most people’s concern with this match. There were spots where the third guy was thrown out and it was one-on-one, but the spots that took guys out were believable. Cody got taken out by going through a table. Kenny was taken out the same way. Ibushi got shoved from the top rope to the floor. There were really good exchanges between all three guys, but the one that caught my eye, in particular, was Kota losing his patience with both men and killing them with strikes. Cody had two nearfalls that were too close for comfort, and Ibushi had a close fall with the Kamigoye. But Omega would retain in the end with the One-Winged Angel on Ibushi. Afterward, he and Tanahashi exchanged words concerning the Tokyo Dome but kept it civil. The match itself had drama and some fun stuff, and while I know a lot of people didn’t want it, I can’t say it didn’t deliver beyond my expectations. ****

August: Look, this is a good match. It was well worked. It had some creative triple threat spots. The character work was spot on. The crowd was into it. But it’s not what I want out of my IWGP title matches. In particular the beginning, which relied on humorous exchanges. Then it relied on the big spots to keep someone on the outside in typical triple threat fashion. One thing I like is how Cody continues to tease hitting the Crossroads on Ibushi off the apron after it was the most notable thing on their WrestleKingdom match. I like that he only teases it on Ibushi, because Ibushi is the only person on the planet willing to take that move. I like that Ibushi went on a Terminator-like rampage near the end of the match. I liked all the character work. And if this match had been for anything besides the IWGP title, on one of the biggest shows of the year, I would have loved it. As is, I enjoyed it, but my enjoyment has limits in these circumstances. ****1/4