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Lansdell’s report and analysis on Moxley vs Umino, Kingston vs Kidd, Takagi vs. Uemura and more



SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…


NJPW RESURGENCE REPORT
May 11, 2024
TOYOTA CENTER
ONTARIO, CALIF.
AIRED LIVE ON PPV ON NJPW WORLD

Announcers: Ian Riccaboni & Veda Scott

(1) TOMOHIRO ISHII & ROCKY ROMERO & THE DKC vs. HOUSE OF TORTURE (Evil & Ren Narita & Jack Perry)

I don’t know why it made me laugh so much, but with Romero and DKC playing to the crowd at the top of the ramp, Ishii just power-walked down to the ring. Didn’t stop, didn’t look at anyone, didn’t particularly care. I got the feeling that, had Romero or DKC been in his way, Ishii would have walked right over them. During Jack Perry’s entrance we got a good view of how empty the arena was, which cannot be a good sign.

The whole match revolved around Jack Perry playing to the crowd. There were several attempted CM Punk chants, but the sound levels were so awful it was impossible to tell how loud they were. When they increased the volume on the arena mics, the announcers were completely inaudible. It’s fair to say that the crowd was very into the match, jeering loudly for House of Torture and getting behind Ishii for his hot tag.

The finish came with Perry choking Ishii on the floor with a camera cable, Narita choking DKC with his push-up bar, and Evil connecting with Everything is Evil on Romero.

WINNERS: House of Torture via pinfall in 11:00. (**)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: We did get minimal shenanigans, and despite HoT controlling most of the match we got some good hope spots from all three faces. The DKC looked to have some potential but seemed a bit rushed in his moves, something that can be smoothed out with time. Decent opener that used the inherent HoT heat to get the crowd invested in the card.)

(2) TOM LAWLOR & FRED ROSSER vs. WEST COAST WRECKING CREW (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)

Nelson and Isaacs came out in Team Filthy merch, with the word Filthy covered in electrical tape. Naturally these two teams did not wait for a bell, brawling on the ramp as Lawlor and Rosser made their entrance. Rosser clotheslined Nelson over the barricade into the crowd, while Lawlor used his jacket to hip-toss Isaacs across the ring.Lawlor tagged in Rosser, who hit a flurry of chops in the corner. He followed up with a series of hip attacks, then tagged Lawlor back in. A pair of double-team moves got a two-count.

Rosser tagged back in, but another attempted double-team move backfired in a very awkward sequence. Rosser just stood there while Isaacs countered a running attack from Lawlor, then decided to charge at Isaacs only to get stun-gunned. Isaacs and Lawlor then just looked at one another for a few seconds. Lawlor ran slowly at Isaacs, who moved, allowing Nelson to come in with a Pounce that sent Lawlor to the floor. It was all slow and looked very soft, not what you expect at this level.

Isaacs hit a deadlift German suplex on Rosser for a two-count. Nelson tagged in and beat down Rosser, then tagged in Isaacs. They connected with a side slam-leg drop combination for a near fall. Nelson tagged in and hit a basement shoulder tackle for a two-count. He followed up with a back suplex and went to the top, but was intercepted by Rosser who hit a superplex. Lawlor and Isaacs tagged in.

Lawlor peppered Isaacs with strikes and knees. Nelson tried to intervene but ate a back elbow. Lawlor continued his strike onslaught, then whipped Isaacs into Nelson. He hit a German suplex on Isaacs and a DDT on Nelson, then kicked Isaacs in the head. Kamagoye by Lawlor! It was only enough for a two-count.

Rosser tagged back in. Nelson and Lawlor brawled on the outside as Isaacs countered a fireman’s carry into an exploder suplex. Nelson tagged in again, they set up a double team move but Isaacs could not hold Rosser up. They tried again, Isaacs lifted Rosser in the Dominator position, and Nelson hit a running cutter. Visually beautiful, but somewhat lessened by the slip-up the first time. Rosser kicked out at two.

Rosser fired up and fought off both men with chops and forearms, then dropped them both with a double clothesline. Rosser grasped at his hamstring before hitting an Attitude Adjustment on Isaacs. Lawlor tagged in and they hit a tandem roaring forearm on Nelson. Rosser lifted Nelson and launched him into a gutbuster from Lawlor. Rear naked choke applied by Lawlor! Nelson tried to break it up but Rosser locked in the chicken wing! Isaacs managed to stagger across the ring and hit a splash onto Lawlor and Nelson, with Rosser still on his back. That was nice.

All four men brawled in the middle of the ring. Rosser hit an enzuigiri on Isaacs, Nelson hit a dropkick on Rosser, Lawlor hit a running knee on Nelson, and Isaacs hit a high-angle German suplex on Lawlor. Nelson and Isaacs hit a pair or corner attacks on Rosser. Nelson connected with a pop-up powerbomb on Rosser, then catapulted him into an Isaacs powerslam. Isaacs dropped Lawlor on his head with a piledriver, and Nelson connected with a gorgeous top-rope elbow drop for the win.

WINNERS: West Coast Wrecking Crew via pinfall in 12:00. (***)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: After the initial stages of the match, which were clunky and honestly just bad, the action did pick up. I really like the Wrecking Crew, but this was not their best showing. At least the right team went over. I know Rosser and Lawlor have done some great things together in NJPW Strong, but they were decidedly average here.)

(3) TMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste) (C) vs. EL PHANTASMO & HIKULEO – NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship match

Nicholls and ELP started the match, with Nicholls taking ELP down with a shoulder tackle. Nicholls avoided a dropkick, ELP, ducked a sliding clothesline, then Nicholls tried to knock Hikuleo off the apron. Instead he ran into a forearm, and ELP tagged in Hikuleo. He hit a corner splash and a side slam, then ELP came off the middle rope with a Bret Hart elbow. Nicholls escaped out the back of a Hikuleo suplex attempt and made the tag to Haste, who came in with a kick to the gut of the big man. TMDK took Hikuleo down with a tandem drop toehold and hit a combo senton-fist drop for a two-count.

Haste charged Hikuleo in the corner. Hikuleo got his boot up but Haste caught it and chopped Hikuleo. It wasn’t very effective. Haste tried again, with a big wind-up, and it was…still not effective. Hikuleo decided to try his own chop and Haste went down like a redwood. ELP tagged in and lit up Haste with a chop of his own. He used a series of acrobatic counters to avoid Haste’s attacks, but could not avoid Nicholls tripping him from the outside. Haste hit a basement dropkick, and Nicholls pulled ELP under the bottom rope and DDTd him from the apron to the floor.

Back inside, Haste covered ELP for a two-count. A neckbreaker got another two-count. Haste cut off a tag attempt and hit a GORGEOUS standing dropkick for another near fall. He tagged in Nicholls, and they set for the Power Bottom. ELP tried to counter with a huracanrana but there was a slip and it ended up looking clumsy and dangerous. ELP hit an enzuigiri on Haste, then kicked Nicholls into Haste and made the tag to Hikuleo.

Hikuleo took out both men, but Haste escaped the Snake Eyes attempt and Nicholls clotheslined Hikuleo in the corner. TMDK whipped him across the ring but he came roaring out with a clothesline to level both opponents. Nicholls blocked the Godsend, and they exchanged forearms md-ring.Hikuleo hit a back elbow to win the exchange and a leaping elbow drop for a near fall. Hikuleo hit a powerslam and tagged in ELP, who came in with a slingshot senton and then a Lionsault for a near fall. ELP set for Sudden Death, Nicholls blocked it and hit a stiff forearm as Haste grabbed the leg of Hikuleo. Nicholls hit Hikuleo with a corner clothesline, and they connected with a combo back suplex-neckbreaker. Power Bottom on ELP! 1…2…no!

Nicholls tagged in Haste, reminding me this was not a tornado tag. ELP escaped the attempted Tankbuster but got flattened by a Haste clothesline. They set for it again…Tankbuster connected! 1…2…Hikuleo broke it up! The big man grabbed both opponents by the throat, but they broke his grip and tried a tandem move. Hikuleo escaped that, flattened Haste with a boot and hit a BEAUTIFUL snap powerslam on Nicholls. Sudden Death to Nicholls! Massive lariat to Haste! ELP hit a tope to the floor onto Nicholls. In the ring…Godsend to Haste! Super Thunderkiss 86! 1…2…3! New champs!

WINNERS: Hikuleo and El Phantasmo via pinfall in 10:00 to win the NJPW Strong tag team championships. (***1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Well, that was unexpected. The match was very good, but with all the rumours around Hikuleo’s contract and with TMDK only just having won the titles I was not thinking of a switch here. I’m very curious how this will play out going forward. Another match with a pretty bad slip, almost resulting in ELP being planted directly on the top of his skull. Were people just extra sweaty and slippery for some reason?)

(4) STEPHANIE VAQUER vs. ALEX WINDSOR – NJPW Strong Women’s Championship match

Alex Windsor just has It. She exudes confidence, she walks with a swagger you can’t learn, and she looks like she believes the ring belongs to her. It’s no secret to anyone who has been following my reports that I am a massive Stephanie Vaquer fan, and she too has that intangible factor that pulls your attention.

They started off with a test of strength wrist lock, exchanging holds while maintaining the wrist locks. Both women applied straightjacket chokes, with Vaquer using an innovative rollup escape to get a close two-count. Vaquer went to work on the arm of Windsor, transitioning a wristlock into a hammerlock then stomping on the hand of Windsor. She hit a dropkick and charged Windsor in the corner to attempt a monkey flip. Windsor blocked it, perched Vaquer on the top turnbuckle and then yanked her down.

Windsor connected with a Russian leg sweep for a two-count. She clamped on a cravate and used the head control to hit a series of knee lifts to the face. Vaquer escaped with a shoulder throw, but Windsor kicked her in the shin and then hit a superkick for a two-count at the five-minute mark. Vaquer avoided a charging Windsor and hit a berserker flurry of headbutts in the corner. She followed up with a suplex, then locked in a headscissors. Vaquer rolled over and pounded Windsor’s head off the mat repeatedly. Big fan of that spot. A leg drop got a near fall.

The women exchanged headbutts in the middle of the ring, which strikes me as a monumentally bad idea. Vaquer hit a nice hook kick but got flattened by a Windsor clothesline. After a series of counters, Vaquer ended up on the apron and Windsor ended up DDTing her from inside the ring. With Vaquer still bent over the middle rope, Windsor went to the top and hit a missile dropkick! She covered and got a near fall. Windsor attempted a fisherman’s suplex, Vaquer blocked it and hit an Eat Da Feet and a back suplex for a near fall of her own.

Windsor came back with a pair of clotheslines and a teardrop suplex for a two-count. She applied a Sharpshooter, but Vaquer made the ropes. Vaquer managed to connect with a surprise jawbreaker, a superkick, and a package piledriver…no! Windsor blocked and hit a solid headbutt to the chest. A roaring clothesline by Windsor got another near fall. She went for the Sharpshooter again, Vaquer kicked her off and connected with a dragon screw. Running double knee strike in the corner by Vaquer! Package neckbreaker! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Stephanie Vaquer via pinfall in 10:00 to retain the NJPW Strong Women’s championship. (***1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: That was really good. Vaquer continues to move from strength to strength, and Windsor is an exceptional talent that is going to start making waves as more of the North American audience gets to see her. I’m glad Vaquer retained here, she deserves a long run.)

(5) LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Yota Tsuji & Tetsuya Naito) vs. BULLET CLUB WAR DOGS (David Finlay & Kenta)

I could have sworn this was originally supposed to be a tag title match. Maybe I am just getting old. There was a funny moment during the LIJ entrance when Tsuji posed to the wrong side of the ring, and Finlay loudly told him the camera was on the other side, helpfully pointing it out. And people wonder why WWE sends so many people to NXT to learn how to be on TV.

While Naito went through his typically methodical pre-match disrobing, Kenta and Finlay took a nap in the corner. Naito has missed his calling as a burlesque performer. It took exactly ten minutes for the bell to ring after the entrances began. Sheesh.

Naito started in the ring but immediately tagged Tsuji. Kenta then tagged Finlay. They posed and grandstanded for another minute and a half before Tsuji flattened Finlay with a tackle and followed up with a splash for a two-count early on. Naito tagged in and hit the Tranquilo pose while Tsuji stomped away on Finlay in the corner. Naito tried the Combinación Cabrón but Finlay blocked it, and Kenta pulled him down off the apron. While Finlay argued with the ref, Kenta beat down Naito on the outside.

Back in the ring, Finlay hit a snap mare and a diving European uppercut. Finlay mocked Naito’s trademark pose and kicked away at him in the corner. Kenta tagged in and continued the beatdown. Snap mare from Kenta, followed by a kick to the spine for a two-count. Finlay tagged back in, hit a running European uppercut to the back of the head, and covered Naito with a single boot for another two-count.

Kenta tagged back in. A pair of elbow drops got another two-count. Naito countered a clothesline into an inverted atomic drop, then a spinning neckbreaker. Both men made tags, and Tsuji came in with an offensive flurry. He hit a beautiful flying headscissor on Finlay, followed by a double foot stomp for a near fall. Finlay escaped a fireman’s carry out the back, then connected with an uranage backbreaker for a two-count. Finlay nailed a series of European uppercuts, and taunted Tsuji. He invited Tsuji to return fire, and the ensuing smack to the chest crumpled Finlay to the mat. The crack from that was loud, folks. Tsuji lined up a second strike, not nearly as loud, and Finlay was able to come back by biting Tsuji on the forehead.

A series of reversals and counters ended with a Finlay clothesline at the ten-minute mark. Finlay charged with a strike in the corner, but his suplex attempt was reversed and Tsuji suplexed him into the turnbuckles! Naito tagged in and hit a back elbow and a sliding dropkick. Naito’s flurry was cut short when Finlay countered a running Destino into a blue thunder bomb. Finlay tagged in Kenta, who covered Naito several times for several two-counts. Naito was able to counter one pin attempt into a crucifix for a near fall, but then got spiked with a DDT.

Kenta went to the top and connected with a clothesline. Finlay came in and waffled Naito in the corner. Falcon Arrow by Kenta! 1…2…no! Kenta went for Go 2 Sleep, Naito escaped and Tsuji came in to clean house. He hit a backbreaker on Finlay and curb-stomped him, then ate a running boot from Kenta. Naito hit a tornado DDT on Kenta, then hit a Natural Selection off the top that dropped Kenta on his head. 1…2…still not enough! Naito attempted Destino, Kenta blocked it but then ate a running high knee from Tsuji. Destino! That’s it, that’s all!

WINNERS: LIJ via pinfall in 15:00. (**1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: It was fine. Did it serve any purpose? Maybe, if LIJ get a title shot as a result of pinning Kenta. Otherwise this seemed like it was here to get Naito in front of the crowd and highlight Tsuji.)

(6) HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. ZACK SABRE JR.

Another installment in this classic rivalry that always seems to bring out the best of Tanahashi. As he gets older, his transition to a mat-based wrestler will be more necessary…and fortunately he is very good at that.

The two men exchanged holds and counters early. ZSJ got the upper hand with a straightjacket choke that bent Tanahashi backwards over ZSJ’s knees. Tanahashi was able to escape, but ZSJ caught him in a cravate. He whipped Tanahashi into the corner, and a brief counter exchange ended with a crossbody off the second rope by Tanahashi. The Ace posed for the crowd but got caught with a dragon screw. ZSJ hit a dropkick to the knee, and went to work on the leg of Tanahashi.

ZSJ kicked Tanahashi in the spine and covered for a two-count. He applied an Indian deathlock, but Tanahashi made the ropes. With both men on their feet, they exchanged forearms in the middle of the ring. ZSJ buckled Tanahashi with a running European uppercut, but Tanahashi came back with a flying forearm. Shades of Tito Santana! Tanahashi slammed ZSJ and hit a magic screw, then a senton off the second rope for a near fall. Tanahashi went to run the ropes but ZSJ grabbed him into an octopus hold. Tanahashi countered into his own octopus. Both men tried to get the upper hand, Tanahashi winning the exchange by changing his approach and hitting a dragon screw.

Tanahashi tried to apply a Texas cloverleaf, but ZSJ countered into a triangle choke! Tanahashi resisted, to ZSJ transitioned into a Rings of Saturn. He modified the hold to also grab a knee bar, then rolled into an STF. Tanahashi made the ropes as ZSJ tried another transition. ZSJ kicked Tanahashi in the chest, with Tanahashi calling for more. On the third attempt he caught ZSJ’s leg and dropkicked the inside of his knee, then hit a trio of Twist and Shouts. Tanahashi followed up with a Slingblade at the ten-minute mark for a near fall.

Tanahashi went to the top for the crossbody, but ZSJ rolled through the impact and hit a stiff kick to the chest. Zack Driver…countered into a rollup! 1…2…no! They exchanged rollup counters for a series of near falls, then ZSJ countered an arm-trap German suplex into a European clutch for…oh dear. That was supposed to be a near fall but Tanahashi was late kicking out, making the ref look bad. The crowd booed as the two men exchanged slaps. Slingblade by ZSJ! One-count only! Tanahashi went for a dragon screw…countered by ZSJ! Magic Screw! Zack Driver! Three count!

WINNER: Zack Sabre Jr via pinfall in 12:00.(**3/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: The story coming into this match was that ZSJ wanted the world title, but needed to get the Tanahashi bugbear off his back, The announcers said that he would have his eyes on the main event, and I have to wonder if he will now win the G1. This was a pretty typical match between the two, which is not a bad thing, but it also did not stand out.)

(7) JEFF COBB (c) vs. LANCE ARCHER – NJPW World TV Championship match

Archer made his usual “assault all the Young Lions at ringside” entrance. He was sporting a bit of a throwback look, going back to his NJPW American Psycho gimmick.

Good GRIEF right off the bat Cobb hit a Spanish Fly! Wow. He went for Tour of the Islands but Archer escaped, only to get dropped with a German suplex. Archer rolled to the floor, Cobb rolled him back in but quickly found himself thrown to the floor again. Archer followed with a senton off the apron to the floor! Archer picked up a Young Lion and slammed him on top of Cobb. They exchanged strikes on the floor, then Archer chokeslammed Cobb on the apron. Archer ran Cobb into the barricade and got back in the ring as the referee’s count reached 16. Cobb made it back in at 18, but got rocked with a blistering shot in the corner.

Archer continued to beat down on Cobb, then stalked the referee much to the crowd’s disapproval. Cobb staged a brief comeback but it was cut off by a running crossbody by Archer. He covered and got a two-count, and again he went after the ref. She looked terrified. Archer sent for a suplex but got distracted by the crowd, yelling at them and allowing Cobb to reverse into a suplex of his own. Both men slugged away at each other with forearms in the middle of the ring, because we had not seen that happen all night. They switched to chops, then to clotheslines, as the crowd chanted for Meat. I would have been very surprised had Shawn Stasiak shown up, but the crowd can dream I suppose.

The exchange ended with a uranage by Cobb and a standing moonsault for a near fall. Archer went for the Claw, Cobb was able to block that but not the boot that followed. Archer planted Cobb with a ripcord side slam for a two-count, then took Cobb to the corner and set him up for the Blackout. Cobb fought it off, but Archer ran up the ropes with a knee lift. Blackout…connected! 1…2…reversed into a rollup! 1…2…no! Archer collected himself and hit a corner splash, then tried a second at the ten-minute mark. Cobb caught him and turned it into a Spin Cycle for a near fall.

Cobb charged into a boot from Archer, who pulled Cobb up and went for Old School. Cobb countered into Tour of the Islands! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Jeff Cobb via pinfall in 12:00 to retain the NJPW World TV championship. (***1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Nice big man match that started with the spectacular. It didn’t maintain that level of energy, but that’s hardly surprising. They didn’t exactly fall too far off either, and it was a quality ten-minute crunch-fest.)

After the match, Tomohiro Ishii came out to challenge Jeff Cobb, who accepted. That should be another big crunch-fest.

We got a video package for Henare, who said he would be coming for the Never Openweight title no matter who won the match tonight. I’m glad to see he has recovered from that nasty head wound.

(8) SHINGO TAKAGI (c) vs.YUYA UEMURA – Never Openweight Championship match

Call me skeptical, but it seemed highly unlikely that Uemura would win this match and become a double champion.

After some early exchanges, Shingo tried to back suplex his way out of a side headlock but Uemura maintained the hold. Shingo backed him into the corner and slugged his way free. Shingo tried another back suplex but Uemura countered into another headlock. Shingo escaped right away and dropped Uemura with a jab and left-arm lariat.

On the outside, Shingo dropped Uemura face-first on the apron, then followed up with a DDT on the floor. Shingo got back inside as the referee counted. Uemura made it back inside at 18, but ate a suplex for a near fall. Shingo applied his own headlock, taking Uemura over at the five-minute mark. After a rope break, Shingo locked in a cravate. Uemura fought free but was quickly dropped with a Saito suplex. Shingo snapped Uemura’s neck into the underside of the bottom rope, but his suplex attempt was reversed by Uemura leaving both men down.

Uemura hit a pair of deep arm drags and a textbook dropkick. He kipped up and hit a corner crossbody and a back suplex for a two-count. Uemura went to the top but was intercepted by Shingo. Uemura fought off the attack and hit a crossbody off the top for a near fall. He went for a T-bone suplex, Shingo blocked it and hit a DDT to take control. Shingo hit a stump piledriver and a kneedrop to the back, then whipped Uemura to the corner. A pair of nasty stiff clotheslines and a top rope elbow followed, then a powerbomb got a two count for Shingo. He instantly transitioned into a crossface, but Uemura was able to drag him to the ropes for a break.

Shingo positioned Uemura on the top rope, then brought him back down with a superplex. Uemura literally bounced on impact. Shingo covered for a near fall. Was it….could it be…IT’S SHINGO TIME! He called to the crowd and went for Made in Japan…countered! Rollup! Uemura barely got a two-count. Shingo hit a lariat to the back of the head, and Uemura came back with a desperation Pele kick to leave both men on the canvas.

The men exchanged ram-style headbutts before getting to their feet and trading chops at the 15-minute call. Shingo peppered Uemura with jabs, but Uemura came back with his running double chop. He charged at Shingo and hit a running Shotei in the corner, followed by a uranage for a near fall. Shingo blocked the Deadbolt and hit a belly to belly suplex and a Death Valley driver to stop the rally. Pumping bomber by Shingo! He tried Made in Japan and…something went wrong and it ended up looking like an Oblivion. The second Made in Japan connected, and Shingo went for Last of the Dragon. Uemura slipped out the back but Shingo countered the rollup with a magic screw.

Shingo peppered Uemura with a series of strikes, a headbutt, and a sliding lariat. Uemura kicked out at one! Shingo was unimpressed and nigh decapitated him with a pumping bomber! Last of the COUNTERED into Deadbolt! 1…2…no! The crowd chanted “This is awesome” as Uemura fired up and went to the top rope. Frog splash! 1…2…no! Uemura clamped on a full nelson, but Shingo broke the hold. He absorbed a forearm from Uemura, and they exchanged headbutts. After a pair of reversals, Uemura got an O’Connor roll for a very near fall! Pumping bomber by Shingo! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Shingo Takagi via pinfall in 21:00 to retain the Never Openweight championship. (****)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Another banger from Shingo. I am really enjoying Yuya’s gimmick of being the guy who has mastered the basics but can also pull out the fancy stuff when needed. No part of this felt like it went twenty minutes, a sure sign of quality. The match was hurt slightly by the unlikeliness of one outcome, but it was still immensely enjoyable.)

(9) EDDIE KINGSTON (c) vs. GABE KIDD – No-rope No DQ match for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship

The only way to win this match was by knockout. Gabe Kidd was rapped to the ring by Kensei Abbot, an interesting choice when you consider that David Finlay is supposed to be the leader of War Dogs. As no-frills as ever, Kingston just stomped down to the ring and looked ready to commit violence.

Kidd charged across the ring at the bell with a high knee, and fisticuffs ensued. Both men connected with flurries of slaps, then they exchanged single shots. It became a chop battle as both men tried to tough it out. Kingston dropped Kidd, mounted him, and pounded away with forearms. Kidd rolled to the floor at the count of 3, then grabbed himself a chair from under the ring. He threw it into Kingston’s face, and the referee counted seven before Kidd pulled Kingston up and hit him with the chair again. Kidd hit a running knee, and Eddie was bleeding already.

Back in the ring…well, back on the mat and again Kidd threw the chair at Kingston. Kidd got himself a chain and wrapped his left arm in it, then waffled Kingston with a clothesline. Kingston got up at eight. Kidd hit a short DDT and again Kingston got up. Kidd laid in some savage forearms, bit Kingston on the forehead, then stuck one of the corner buckle hooks into Kingston’s face. Gross.

Kingston blocked a half-and-half suplex, then pushed Kidd into the corner post. Kidd fell to the floor as Kingston recovered on the mat. Kidd got up at eight. Kingston grabbed the chain and wrapped it several times around the neck of the now-bleeding Kidd. Kingston pulled back on the chain, trying to choke Kidd out. Kingston found a stop sign, a perfectly normal thing to be under a wrestling ring, and clunked Kidd in the head. As the referee counted, Kingston retrieved a garbage can and lid. He waffled Kidd with the lid a couple of times. Kingston hit him multiple times with the can, then decided to hit himself…for fun I guess? Kingston’s eye looked to be swollen shut. The referee counted to nine with Kidd on his knees, and for some reason Kingston asked him to stop the count. He grabbed the chair and hit Kidd over the back with it. Well that made no sense.

Another trash can shot dropped Kidd, and again Kingston stopped the referee from counting. Kingston went after the eye of Kidd, and as we went past ten minutes he tried a half-and-half suplex onto the garbage can. Kidd blocked it, then reversed into a back suplex of his own onto the can. Now Kidd stopped the ref’s count at six, and went plunder-hunting on the outside. Kingston got up at seven with Kidd still not having found what he wanted. He kept walking around the ring and looking under it, not finding the thing he wanted, and the crowd grew restless.

Kidd threw a couple of chairs in the ring but kept searching…and eventually found a ladder. That whole sequence took almost two minutes. Kidd jabbed Kingston in the back of the head with a chair, which looked nasty, then went back on the hunt. Oh I see, he wanted a barbed-wire-wrapped chair. Piledriver onto the barbed wire chair! Kidd interrupted the count at eight, and erected two chairs. He positioned the barbed wire chair between them, and slapped Kingston multiple times. He set for a suplex through the chairs, but Kingston blocked and hit the machine gun chops.

Kingston just shoved Kidd chest-first onto the barbed wire chair, then double-stomped his back to drive him into the barbed wire. Again Kingston stopped the count, this time to smack Kidd with the ladder. Exploder suplex onto the ladder! Kidd briefly got up at the count of nine, then staggered and went down again. Kingston went to the floor and it was his turn to go plunder-hunting. Fortunately he was much more successful, finding a table on the first try. Kingston enlisted the ref to help him position the table between the apron and the barricade, which felt all sorts of wrong.

Kingston missed the backfist, but connected on the second attempt. He hit another backfist, but of course now that the table has been set up we knew the match wouldn’t end here. Indeed Kingston stopped the count again and retrieved “military grade” handcuffs, according to Riccaboni. Not sure how he could tell that from his seat, but OK. Kingston handcuffed himself to Kidd, and they wailed on each other with wild shots. Kingston got the upper hand with a headbutt, and set to powerbomb Kidd through the table he set up. Kidd blocked but got blistered with a pair of chops. Kidd came back with a choke using the handcuff chain, then hit a brainbuster through the table!

Both men were down on the outside. The referee counted, and Kidd got to his feet at nine. Kingston could not, and we had a new champion!

WINNER: Gabe Kidd via knockout in 21:00 to win the NJPW Strong Openweight championship. (**)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: This did not work for me at all. While I am very glad to see Kidd win a title, the constant stopping of the count by both men and the extended plunder-hunt made this match hard to watch. The referee helping Eddie set up the table was another bad choice that damaged things for me. It just felt like a bad fight. I thought they would tell the continued story of Kidd costing himself big matches, but then Eddie did the same thing multiple times and stopped himself winning the match. The match concept could have worked, but it just felt awkward in the end. Maybe this will finally get all the extraneous titles off AEW programming though.)

After the match, while the crowd paid tribute to Kingston, Jack Perry came out to confront Eddie. The Young Bucks came through the crowd and jumped him from behind, an impressive feat since they were on Collision earlier in the night. Conspicuous by his absence was Kazuchika Okada.

Matthew Jackson took to the mic and called Eddie Kingston an idiot. He asked who would pick a fight on Wednesday and then show up on Saturday in the hometown of the Young Bucks. Nicholas punted Kingston in the groin as Matthew continued jaw-jacking. He said that Ontario was a great place to live back when they were really poor. He said the best thing they ever did was become multi-millionaires and move to the high desert.

Nicholas took the mic and said that he loved this relationship with NJPW, because it let him kick Kingston’s ass on two shows. Perry took the mic and encouraged the crowd to call the EVP Trigger as the Bucks leveled Kingston with said maneuver.

(10) JON MOXLEY (c) vs. SHOTA UMINO – IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match

As Moxley posed on the apron with his title, Umino nailed him with a dropkick from behind. He must have been slightly late on the cue because Moxley was visibly looking behind himself for the attack. Umino went to work on the outside, whipping his mentor into the barricade. Back inside, Umino ran Moxley into a corner and laid in several kicks to the body. He whipped Moxley to the opposite corner but the champ came out with a clothesline, then hit two more for good measure.

On the outside, Moxley took Umino up the ramp and raked his back before suplexing him on said ramp. He rolled Umino back in, and both men exchanged sledging blows. Umino won the exchange with a big running forearm and a neckbreaker, then a fisherman’s suplex for a two-count. Umino laid in multiple hammer and anvil elbows at the five-minute mark, but his exploder suplex attempt was blocked. Moxley regained momentum with a corner clothesline, but Umino absorbed the blow and several more. He came back with a flurry of his own, but Moxley ground his elbow into Umino’s nose to cut short the rally.

Moxley positioned Umino for a superplex, biting him first. Umino slipped free and set Moxley’s head for a cheeky Nandos’ kick, which connected. He hit a second one, then kicked out the knee of Moxley. Umino went to the outside and slammed Moxley’s knee into the ring post repeatedly. He continued the onslaught on the floor, dropkicking the knee. Back in the ring he repeated the dropkick, then hit a knee breaker. Umino rolled through, snapping the knee of Moxley before locking in a knee bar. Moxley scrambled to the ropes.

Umino went for a running attack, but Moxley sidestepped and sent Umino crashing to the outside at the ten-minute mark. Moxley stretched out his knee then hit a tope to the floor. He posed on top of the barricade and played to the crowd as they chanted his name. He rolled Umino back inside and hit an X-Plex for a two-count. Again he threw Umino to the outside, where he went to work on Umino’s arm. He ran Umino’s shoulder into the ring post, then did it again on a second ring post. Moxley went back into the ring and the referee counted.

Umino got back in at 11. Moxley alternated elbows and kicks to the shoulder of Umino, then covered for a two-count. He applied an armbar, then snapped Umino’s fingers. He trash-talked Umino in the corner, which seemed to fire up the young challenger. They exchanged stiff forearms mid-ring, with Moxley going to a leg kick and then a kimmura at the 15-minute mark. Moxley transitioned into an armbar, but Umino got to the ropes. Moxley perched Umino on the top turnbuckle and again applied a kimmura. He connected with a superplex, then hit a delayed piledriver for a near fall.

Moxley went to the outside and looked under the ring. Hopefully he is more successful than Gabe Kidd was. He did locate a table in good time and set it up, but the delay enabled Umino to mount a comeback. A crisp dropkick gave him some breathing room. Umino countered a charging Moxley with a drop toehold, leaving Moxley draped over the ropes. Umino hit his slingshot DDT to the outside at the 20-minute mark.

On the outside, Umino spotted the table and positioned Moxley on it. The table did not look terribly sturdy, but it held out long enough for Umino to hit a flying elbow from the top through Moxley and the table. The referee counted as both men were down. Umino was up first, and went to the top again. Moxley staggered around ringside, making it back in at the count of 19! Umino came off the top with a basement dropkick! Exploder suplex! 1…2…no! Umino called to the crowd, hit a Alarm Clock, then hit Ignition for another near fall! Death Rider…countered into a cutter by Moxley! 1…2…no!

Moxley locked in the bulldog choke, but Umino rolled through into the STF! Moxley blocked the full application and countered into the bulldog choke again. Umino turned into the hold and hit a Cross Rhodes! After another near fall, Umino went back to the STF. Moxley crawled from the middle of the ring towards the ropes, but Umino dragged him back to the middle of the ring. He mounted the back of Moxley, trapping his arms by his sides, and pounded away at the back of Moxley’s head at the 25-minute mark.

Umino got up from the mount, and Moxley staggered to his feet, flipping off the referee as he did so. Umino tried a top-rope Death Rider, but Moxley blocked it. Umino scratched and clawed at Moxley’s back, returning the favour from earlier, then hit a top-rope half-hatch suplex for a near fall. Umino set for Blaze Blade…countered into a DDT! Umino fired up and hit a diving European uppercut! Both men were down as the crowd chanted “This is awesome.” A loud “Moxley” chant broke out. Both men were on their knees in the middle of the ring, slugging it out. They got to their feet, still slugging it out. Moxley went to the leg kick again, then hit a knee lift to the head. He toyed with Umino, who hit a very loud and very stiff forearm that dropped Moxley to his knees.Umino toyed with Moxley, and the slugfest resumed.

Umino went to the knee of Moxley, who then went to the shoulder of Umino. Strike combo into a pop-up European uppercut by Umino! German suplex by Moxley! Half-and-half by Umino! Lariat by Moxley! Shotgun dropkick by Umino! Lariat again from Moxley! A one-count only as we went past 30 minutes! Umino, laying on the mat, flipped the double bird at Moxley. Unperturbed, Moxley connected with Death Rider! 1…2…no! Moxley played to the crowd and went for a second Death Rider…countered into a jumping DDT!

Moxley went to the corner, and Umino nailed him with a running knee to the back of the head! Tornado DDT! Umino rolled though…RamPaige DDT! 1…2…still not enough! Umino hit the diving European uppercut, then a spinout Death Rider! 1…2…STILL not enough! Umino set for Blaze Blade…connected! Moxley countered the Death Rider into an arm wringer, then a curb stomp! BIG Death Rider by Moxley! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Jon Moxley via pinfall in 35:00 to retain the IWGP World Heavyweight championship. (****½)
(Lansdell’s analysis: I legitimately thought they were pulling the trigger and giving Umino his big win here. This was an incredible match that had real drama, a solid story, quality wrestling, selling, counters, reversals, emotion, respect…the only thing lacking was that it felt a little repetitive at times. Considering how highly I have rated it anyway, that is hardly a major gripe. With Kidd and Uemura both holding championships right now, and with Tsuji having won the New Japan Cup, there is a danger that Umino is going to start to seem left behind.)

After the match, Moxley and Umino bowed deeply to each other…and were promptly waylaid by House of Torture. Evil got on the mic and swore at Moxley, then said he was the next challenger. Then he corrected himself, saying he was the real IWGP World champion, so the next challenger was actually Moxley. Evil spray-painted the belt black, dropped it in the ring, and said he was the NJPW president. He posed with the belt as the show went off the air.

Final thoughts: I am begging New Japan to fix the absolutely abysmal production quality of their US shows. It verges on unwatchable at times. That said, the card was filled with great action as we have come to expect. The small attendance though is a sign of what continues to ail AEW – good wrestling alone cannot hold a big audience. The Kingston-Kidd match was a big letdown for me, but it’s fair to say most other things delivered as expected. I am most definitely not looking forward to seeing an Evil world title match, but the other stories set up here should help mitigate that. With Battle of the Super Juniors on the horizon we will likely pause most of these stories for a month. Definitely a show worth watching if you can stomach the lighting and sound issues, but if that is likely to annoy you then you can get away with just the main event and the Never Openweight match.

You can contact me at [email protected] or on Twitter @lansdellicious . Thanks for joining us!