Written by Rachel Cowell (@Its0nlyRachel)
This past Sunday saw the return to one of pro wrestling's biggest and hottest promotion's as NJPW invaded the Walter Pyramid venue in Long Beach, CA. With the main focus being a war within a faction known as Bullet Club as the main event saw the Young Bucks take on the recently formed Golden Lovers in Omega and Ibushi, and Cody and Marty Scurll taking on the Guerrila's of Destiny.
Roppongi 3K & Remoro defeated Daniels, Kazarian and Sky (SoCAL)
A great match to kick the show off, Scorpio and Romero starting things off with a very well executed and hilarious spot where Scorpio was acting like Romero was pulling his non existant hair, as the match progressed SHO and YHO were showing the crowd why they are so great as a tag team, with multiple in sync drop kicks. Kazarian attempted a disaster kick only to slip and appear to injure his knee as Daniels hit his 'best moonsault ever', finally after multiple german suplexes on Scorpio and a double running knee from SHO and YHO, Roppongi pick up the win!
Gedo and Hirooki Goto defeated Juice Robinson and David Finlay
Juice and Goto started things off attempting a test of strength, Juice with no luck early on until he finally put Goto down with a running forearm, Goto's mouth was busted open just after this. Finlay tried to come in to help Juice only to be superplexed onto his own partner, a hilarious exchange of eye pokes from both Gedo and Juice ensued, Finlay hit multiple german suplexes and uppercuts on Gedo as Juice threw Goto to the outside for Finlay to hit a stunner on Gedo for the 1-2-3.
Chuckie T and Toru Yano defeated Davey Boy Smith JR and Lance Archer
As always we start a Lance Archer match with Lance spraying the whole front row with at least 6 bottles of water, crowd was red hot for this one. Match started off with Davey and Lance getting the better off Chuckie T in the ring and making sure he was on they're side of the ring for most of the match, Archer went 'old school' as he walked the entire length of the top rope to hit Chuckie with a forearm. Chuckie finally made the tag to Yano to much of the crowds pleasure, Lance immediately started to run and try to attack Yano only for Yano to run into the ropes forcing a break by the ref as the crowd cheered on and taunted Lance with Yano, Yano attempted a low blow only for Lance to block it, Yano attempted a running tope suicida only for him to run to the corner and take off the turnbuckle padding, finally Lance and Davey managed to set up Chuckie for the Killer Bomb and the win.
Cody and Marty Scurll defeated Guerrilas of Destiny
Before the match Cody grabbed the microphone to say how fine Bullet Club really is, he praised GoD for being one of the best tag teams in the world today only for the crowd to keep booing louder and louder till finally a huge 'F--- you Cody' chant, Tonga Loa picked up the mic to tell Cody that the crowd tonight WILL get to see this match and that GoD certainly isn't a part of 'Team Cody'.
Cody gets tossed to the floor as Scurll parades happily side by side with GoD like he was on their team only for GoD to go to attack him as Scurll runs away and jumps into Cody's arms. Great use of Brandi in this match as Cody cowered behind her from Tama Tonga so Scurll could hit a superkick on Tama. Scurll then called for a chicken wing only for Cody to tag himself in to go for a 'cross rhodes' only to get splashed by Tama and Tonga. Cody alone in the ring mocking the Kenny Omega pose as he goes to jump to the outside only for Tonga to hit him with a devasting spear, Scurll was dumped into the corner as Tonga hits another splash, Cody then pushed both members off GoD into each other leaving Cody to hit the cross rhodes on Tama for the victory.
Naito, Sanada, Takahashi and Bushi defeated Tanahashi, Kushida, Taguchi and Dragon Lee
Naito and Tanahashi started this match off to the roar of the Long Beach crowd, Naito spits in Tanahashi's face as the Ace takes down Naito and Sanada, in came Dragon Lee and Takahashi to continue there long fued as both men stood in the middle of the ring and chopped each other for about 5 minutes crowd on there feet cheering as chop after chop landed time and time again, Bushi went to work on Kushida's lower back and while the ref was being distracted by LIJ, Bushi would attempt to strangle Kushida with his t shirt. Tanahashi took out everyone on the outside with a series of splashes, leaving Naito and Tguchi alone in the ring, Taguchi got Naito in an ankle lock only for Sanada to hit his dragon sleeper, for then Tanahashi to hit his slingblade on Sanada, till finally Naito hits the Destino to pin Taguchi as LIJ walk out of Long Beach victorious.
Will Ospreay defeated Jushin Thunder Liger
Before the match took place, Rey Mysterio came out to address the crowd as to why he wouldn't be competing tonight due to the nature of his injury, Mysterio did vow that when he was healthy he would be coming straight to NJPW to wrestle.
Liger tried to get in some early submissions to no avail as Ospreay used his quickness and agility to counter everything Liger was throwing at him, as the action spilled to the floor Liger hit Ospreay with a cannonball to the outside followed by a brainbuster on the concrete. Ospreay manages to break the ref's 20 count by getting in the ring at the count of 19. Now Ospreay regained control of the match, he attempted a 619 to a number of boo's from the crowd, Liger dodged the 619 but not the spanish fly as Liger kicks out at 2, another brainbuster by Liger only for it to be a 2 count left Liger hitting the mat in frustration as finally Ospreay hits the OsCutter for the 1 2 3.
After the match Ospreay grabbed the microphone to thank Liger for everything he has done for professional wrestling and told everyone that he would never be someone's replacement, and that when Rey is fit and healthy Ospreay called out Rey for simply put a 'dream match'.
Zack Sabre Jr and Minoru Suzuki defeated Okada and Ishii
Sabre and Okada started things off, both men easily able to counter each others moves as both men tagged out as the place erupted as Suzuki and Ishii locked eyes in the middle of the ring and then began to hit the hardest forearms you'll ever see in a wrestling ring on each other.
Throughout the match confidence in Sabre grew and grew as himself and Suzuki layed waste to Okada and Ishii with series of kicks, uppercuts and chops. A very loud 'F--- you Sabre' filled the arena as Sabre with a grin on his face flipped off the crowd. Okada tried to get offence in attempting rainmaker's and cobra clutches on Sabre to no avail as Sabre continued twisting and hurting Okada's body with deadly submission variations, Suzuki and Ishii finally tagged in for them to again stand in the ring as everyone in the crowd urged each other to be very quiet, the silence simply put was deafening as they awaited to hear how hard Suzuki and Ishii layed into each other, one forearm from Suzuki looked like it knocked Ishii out on his feet, as Okada tried to come in to help Ishii, Suzuki would trap Okada in the corner as Sabre grabbed Ishii in the middle of the ring as he applied a croass armbreak and legtrap submission as finally Ishii taps out.
IWGP United States Championship match.
Jay White (c) defeated Hangman Page
Match started off very back and forth as both men couldn't keep the other down, the action spilled to the floor as Page hit a neckbreaker followed by throwing White into the barricade, Page picked White up in a firemans carry only to throw him into the ring post, Page kept kicking White's back shouting 'show me what you got Jay!'
White would finally pick up some steam hitting Page with german suplexes and big chops, White attempted a release german suplex on the apron only for Hangman to somewhat land on his feet but clipped his shoulder and face on the apron, White then attempted a german suplex off the top rope only for Page to counter it with a swinging neckbreak to the mat. The crowd was now fully invested in this match after a slow start.
White tries to bail to the floor and Page clears him out with a shooting star press to the floor. Moonsault to the floor by Page! As then Page hits his Buckshot Lariat only to get a 2 count, White then finally counters the rite of passage into a bladerunner for the victory.
Golden Lovers (Omega and Ibushi) defeated Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
Great storytelling at the start of the match as Matt was wearing a weightlifting belt to help with his lower back problem that he has been suffering since the WrestleKingdom loss to Roppongi 3k in January, Matt started off with Ibushi only for Matt to scream at Kenny to tag in, Omega tried to talk sense into Matt, both men exchange words for Matt to cheap shot Ibushi and run out the ring, great spot.
Nick couldnt keep up with Ibushi leg strikes as he crashed to the floor leaving a weakened Matt to take the kicks to his injured back, Omega runs in to tell Ibushi to take it easy on Matt as Matt would then push Omega to the floor.
Omega looked to fly early on but was caught with a superkick from Nick, as Nick told Matt to grab a table and set it up on the outside, Nick gets bumped to the floor by Ibushi as Omega looked to be tagged in only for Matt to run and pull Omega off the apron. Omega finally tags in hitting a crossbody off the top rope, Matt still selling his back perfectly as every kick that lands on his back he screams in pain even screaming to the camera man 'get me out of here', Golden Lovers finally picking up the pace execute the golden moonsault, Omega landed his moonsault perfectly, Ibushi however seemed to stumble and miss.
Omega and Matt in the ring as Omega hits a backbreaker on Matt as Nick is on the outside screaming at Omega to stop, Nick finally goes into another gear as he hit a lung blower on Ibushi followed by a suicide dive onto Omega on the outside, Matt stuck on the top rope as Golden Lovers both go up and deliver a double team superplex much to the screams of Matt, Ibushi almost slipped during the superplex but made sure he got his right leg out to keep his balance, incredible awareness.
As Omega layed on the table on the outside and Matt after recovering goes to the top rope only for Nick to scream at Matt to not hit Ibushi but to splash on the table outside onto Omega, Matt stalling gave enough time for Ibushi to hit a dropkick onto Matt, Omega then attempted to hit a One Winged Angel with Matt on the table outside but Ibushi leap frogged onto the top rope and hit a german suplex from the top rope. Hard landing for Matt as he looked to land right on the side of his face and right shoulder.
Two V Triggers and a last ride powerbomb on Matt but Nick came in to break the pin, Matt attemped a sharpshooter to the eruption from the crowd only for Matt to collapse in pain from his lower back, afterwards Nick told Matt to get on the top rope and splash Ibushi who was out in the middle of the ring, only for Matt to jump on the top rope and hit a diving elbow onto a layed out Omega on the table outside. Nick also hit a 450 splash onto Ibushi only to get a 2 count, frustration started to build in the Bucks as Matt took off his weightlifted support belt and began whipping Omega, finally red shoes took the belt away as Matt grabbed it back off him as Omega hits a clothesline, now its Omega with the belt, as the crowd cheered for Omega to use it, he throws it away, Omega now teary eyed looking down at a defenseless and weak Matt stalled when attempting a V Trigger only for Ibushi to slap Omega and make him hit the V Trigger, as Omega tried Matt speared Omega from no where.
After chants of 'NJPW' and 'This is awesome' ringed out the entire arena, Omega picked up Matt for the OWA as Matt screamed down at Kenny also with tears in his eyes 'DO IT KENNY, HIT YOUR FINISHER AND END THIS'
Omega hits the OWA and 1 2.. NICK MAKES THE SAVE, as the crowd literally erupted. Matt ends up getting the Golden trigger (Omega and Ibushi knee at the same time) and finally 1 2 .. 3. Golden Lovers are victorious.
After the match both teams embraced each other not just as colleagues in the business but all as best friends, Cody came out irate at the Bucks shoving a badly beaten Matt to the floor (just like Omega did months back) As Cody stormed backstage, Omega grabbed the mic and thanked everyone for coming and that NJPW will be back on July 7th 2018 for the G1 SPECIAL.
Such a fun night of wrestling, camera work wasn't as crisp as NJPW usually is, and alot of unnessacary hate on the commentary, I thought commentary was just fine, was great hearing JR in happy spirits, alot of people stood out and shined on this card tonight, people like Scorpio, Dragon Lee, Hangman, Ishii, Ospreay and Nick Jackson, couldn't really ask for a better main event than what the Bucks and GL put on for everyone tonight, certainly one of the best tag team matches ive ever seen, the bullet club war storyline is so amazing to watch as its not a company creating this storyline, its Bullet Club largely in itself creating the magic we are all watching, the card and winners set up for Genesis perfectly.
If you aren't a NJPW fan or are hesistant about watching now that NJPW is gaining alot of momentum and recognition, it's time to stop, give it a try, explore everything, pro wrestling has never been so great.