Wednesday, February 26, 2020

AEW Dynamite Review - February 26th, 2020

AEW Dynamite
Kansas City, Missouri
February 26th, 2020 

Commentators - Jim Ross, Excalibur, & Tazz

1) Kenny Omega vs. PAC - 30 Min Iron Man Match 

The Young Bucks are at ringside with Omega, but no Hangman Page. Very weird and interested how that plays into their PPV match for the tag titles on Saturday. None the less - WOW. Insane offering from these two live on free television. I wasn't blown away by their first singles match despite highly anticipating it as a mark for both guys. However they really knocked it out of the park here and damn near killed each other on a number of occasions. Plus they called back to those matches several times here so without those meetings, this wouldn't have been as great as it was. Omega and PAC were two of the first people to take my breath away when I got into watching Indies & Japanese wrestling in the mid 2000's so seeing them tearing it up like this on national television was so cool. PAC hit a god damn falcon arrow on Omega from the apron to the floor for fucksake. Watch this match. Compelling from start to finish and through the duration of a sudden death stipulation. Plus the first fall was a DQ and was done SO well. Everything about this was ace. Omega wins after a slew of manuevers in sudden death. This was so good that my dad even called me to talk about it and that's rare!

Match rating - ****1/2

First 35-40 minutes gave us the best TV match of the year followed by a PAC interview with Tony Schiavone. Orange Cassidy comes out and gets laid out by the bastard.

2) Sammy Guevara & LAX vs. Jurassic Express (Luchasarus, Jungle Boy, & Marko Stunt) 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Smackdown Review - June 27th, 2002

June 27th, 2002

Commentators: Tazz & Michael Cole 

Vinnie Mac opens this show also to give Kurt Angle the rub for tapping out Hollywood Hogan at King of the Ring. This leads to Angle issuing the infamous open challenge that sees a young JOHN CENA make his debut. Angle says "who the hell are you?" And asks him what makes him think he can challenge the best in the business and Cena says it - RUTHLESS AGGRESSION. The era is officially in swing with this statement combined with the epic McMahon promo from Raw a few days prior. 

1) Kurt Angle vs. John Cena 

Angle really gave Cena so much here. Making him look like a viable opponent despite losing. The struggle was definitely there and after the match, Cena tries to shake Kurt's hand and he walks off. Furthering the likeability of a then unknown Cena, even teasing going back to face him again as Cena ags him on. 

Match rating - **3/4 

Rikishi, Billy Kidman, and Ron Simmons are backstage after the commercial dapping up Cena on his debut. Cena says "I'm just tryna get my own man" I love that bastard. And then UNDERTAKER WALKS UP FUCK. Asks him his name, offers a handshake and says nice job. Man.. Cena's facial expressions here get you so invested. Even looking back at this 18 years later, I got emotional. Good shit. 

2) Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo (w/ Rico) vs. Hardcore Holly & Val Venis

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Monday Night Raw - June 24th, 2002 Review

WWE: Monday Night Raw
June 24th, 2002 
The start of the Ruthless Aggression Era

As some small back story, I got into wrestling around this time but I was a mere 6-7 years old so these reviews and viewing aside from bigger matches I've seen on compilations/best of's over the years will be completely to fresh eyes. The earliest I consciously remember watching fully is 2005 which we will hopefully get to eventually if I keep up with this project properly, but until then just something to keep in mind. None the less - HERE WE GO

The Infamous Promo 
This is exactly as I titled it. The promo that started it all. Vincent K McMahon has all the lower, mid & upper card stars around the ring and challenges them all to be successful but to do that, they have to have what he has - Ruthless Aggression. Vince sets up Bubba Ray Dudley vs. Eddie Guerrero for later in the night as well as Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker. Before he can exit the ring - NWO's music hits. The incarnation featuring Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Big Show, and X-Pac comes out. (wow, I forgot they did the NWO thing in WWE for a bit.) This leads to Booker T snatching the mic from Vince and says he wants to face one of the NWO members. Vince says it won't be HBK bc he's an icon and it won't be Big Kev Nash bc he's hurt. Vince then says that if Nash doesn't cut it when he's off the injured list, he'll be UNEMPLOYED LIKE SCOTT HALL OMGGGGG. Nash does the old scratch the nose/middle finger thing to Vince in response to that and wow I love this. Booker & Vince go back and forth. Hilarious stuff involving Goldust which leads to Booker/Goldust-Show/X PAC being set up for later on. This segment really stands the test of time. The Ruthless Aggression Era is on BABY. 

1) William Regal & Chris Nowinski vs. Bradshaw & Spike Dudley 

WWE: NXT Takeover: Portland Review - February 16th, 2020

NXT Takeover: Portland
February 16th, 2020

Commentators - Mauro Ranallo, Beth Pheonix, & Nigel McGuinness

POPPY performs two songs from her latest album to kick off the show. It ruled bc she rules and I've missed good live music performances on WWE programming.

1) Keith Lee (c) vs. Dominik Dijakovic - North American Title Match

Lee's first defense against his greatest rival in/out of the WWE. They've had one prior singles meeting in NXT and their match in PWG's BOLA tournament in 2017 is what put them both on the map, so to have this here is pretty special. They know it and the crowd knows it. Great staredown to start before they go nuts on each other. Starts off a little slow/rocky, but builds into everything you love about both guys. Some new, insane spots like Dijakovic front flipping off the top rope to the floor onto a seated Keith Lee. Great facial expressions to match all the crazy shit and the crowd bit on all of it. Awesome opener and first defense for Lee and a fantastic nother chapter written in their rivalry.

Match rating - ****1/4

2) Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai - Street Fight

This is a deep seeded personal rivalry that dates back to last year's War Games and the first ever women's street fight in NXT. Didn't have a lot of expectations for this however it turned out to be pretty fuckin great. Only negative was one slip up on a canadian destroyer spot and the interference near the end could be seen as such, but I thought it gave a strong, what the fuck finish and the spot was YIKES. But yeah. This whole thing had me entertained from bell to bell and not just that - had me into what they were doing and even pulled me to the edge of my seat a couple of times. They somehow followed Lee/Dijakovic's banger and didn't look out of place or a tier below AT ALL. Great stuff from both women, interested to see where this goes in regards to the finish.

Match rating - ****

3) Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano

This is the best Finn Balor match since the Brock title match at Royal Rumble over a year ago and that was Finn's best match in another one or two years. Finn had an aggression and look in his eye here that I haven't seen in a very long time. He seemed super motivated and controlled this match AND it got time, so he was able to sink his teeth into it and also not let it become the generic over the top Gargano big match. Balor dissects Gargano, works him over, lots of cut offs and moments to build heat that built up to an awesome finish. I was super impressed with this because I honestly feared for the worst due to the dull formula both these two can fall into -- this was the opposite. Plus, a motivated, aggressive Balor gets the win?? Perfect.

Match rating - ****

4) Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Bianca Belair - NXT Women's Championship 

We needed a cool down after three straight bangers and while this was that in a way, it definitely was still high energy and very back & forth. It felt like a solid NXT TV main event more than a NXT PPV Title Match but I can't really complain with what we got here. Just super fun, competitive title match that gave Ripley a little more solidification in her reign and Belair look like a valid threat. Ripley retains and Charlotte attacks her after the match and wants her at WrestleMania. CRAZY. Charlotte won the Women's Royal Rumble and will challenge for the NXT title at WrestleMania. 

Match rating - ***1/2

5) Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish (c) vs. Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne - NXT Tag Team Championship Match 

Mother of pearl. These four wrestle a super similar style, a hybrid style that I love. And here they got the perfect platform to just do what they do best and it ruled. They isolate Dunne for the Riddle hot tag and shit breaks down. The crowd was into everything and the drama really came into play when Dunne kicked out of Chasing the Dragon. Riddle & Dunne eventually are able to overcome and dethrone the Undisputed Era. It's complicated bc I don't like the pairing two random people together thing but Riddle & Dunne work and booking them like this really solidifies them and also the importance of the Dusty tag tournament. Awesome match. 

Match rating - ****

Later this week - Keith Lee and Mark Henry will be on WWE Backstage. 

6) Adam Cole (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa - NXT Championship Match

Aye aye aye... This was... Something. After such an awesome show, they just had to end it with a NXT wannabe, overbooked epic. There was some good stuff here, but with every un-needed false finish and interference, my rating trickled down. The post story with continuing Gargano/Ciampa was another breath out of my lungs as far as my opinion on this match goes. Two guys doing stuff with a decent story behind it but it went way too long and was booked way too much like an epic like EVERY stereotypical big NXT title match in the HBK booked era. Which is what makes it NOT an epic. It's like once Gargano/Almas tore the house down they did it again with Gargano/Ciampa and burned it out. Then did it with Gargano/Cole and it was good then they overkilled that. Now they did the same thing here and are bringing us back around to Gargano/Ciampa again and that's just disappointing. 

Match rating - ***

Thursday, February 20, 2020

AEW Dynamite Review - February 19th, 2020

AEW Dynamite
February 19th, 2020
Atlanta, Georgia 

Commentators: Jim Ross, Excalibur, & Tony Schiavone 

1) Tag Team Battle Royal - The Young Bucks vs. CIMA & T-Hawk vs. Jack Evans & Angelico vs. Butcher & Blade vs. Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky vs. Luchasarus & Jungle Boy vs. Best Friends vs. LAX vs. John Silver & Alex Reynolds vs. Private Party

Insane amount of shit goes on here. Dark Order teases their leader being revealed which distracts SCU and gets them eliminated. Scorpio dives onto them in the crowd. A discreet Raven is sitting near them. Hmm. Best Friends get a good moment here. Luchasarus and Butcher have a crazy exchange here. The crowd is HOT and everyone is over. Lots of character and story development. I'd argue everyone came out of this looking better than they went in. Except T-Hawk. Poor T-Hawk never gets to shine :( BUT great finish here though with an insane superkick spot from Matt Jackson to an interfering Sammy Guevara as Jackson eliminates both members of LAX on his own. The Elite will clash at Revolution! 

Match rating - ***1/2

2) Kris Statlander vs. Shanna 

My new favorite woman in AEW, Britt Baker is on commentary. Couldn't care less for her in the fall but she's flipped a switch and it rules. See last week's promo for reference. Shanna is 1-3 and hasn't been seen in a while so I expect this to be a squash anddddd it's not WWE so it's not! Both women looked good in this 8 minutes sprint and even got a this is awesome chant. While I wouldn't say it was awesome, it was fun! Statlander wins!

Match rating - ***

Tony Schiavone has new AEW Women's Champion Nyla Rose for an interview after replays of her defeating Riho last week air. She completely owned this with the line "I break bitches" that got a pop from the crowd despite them booing the hell out of her. She takes the mic from Tony and turns this fully into her segment. Really really good stuff to build her up as the face of this division. Kris Statlander comes back out and gives the title belt her signature boop. Big Swole also comes up and tries to tussle a little bit but security comes out to keep things calm.

3) Jon Moxley vs. Jeff Cobb

One of the biggest developments from last week was the debut of Jeff Cobb as a member of the Inner Circle. That leads us here. Chris Jericho comes out title in hand to sit ringside with Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager in support of Jeff Cobb. The crowd is singing along with Jericho's theme song, even acapella. Even though he's a heel, thats so sick. This match is pretty much just Cobb dominating Moxley and showing the mainstream AEW audience what he's about. Mox picks up the underdog victory with a cradle pin. The Inner Circle attacks immediately after the bell. This leads to Dustin Rhodes running down. He gets taken out and the lights go out... "I Fell" by Wicca Phase Springs Eternal begins to play and Darby Allin proceeds to get one of the biggest pops in the short history of AEW. WOWWWWWW. Darby returns and bests everyone besides Cobb, including Hager by the use of his board and specifically targets his Revolution opponent Sammy Guevara. Moxley takes out Cobb when he threatens Darby and the babyfaces stand tall. I'm dying for a Cobb/Jericho/Guevara-Moxley/Darby/Dustin trios match or something of the sort next week now. PLSSSS.

4) Kenny Omega & Hangman Page (c) vs. Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr. & Rey Fenix) - AEW World Tag Team Title Match

First defense for Omega & Page outside of SCU. This was miles better than the solid encounter these two teams had back in December, but those matches definitely set the backstory and made this one better as they did a few callbacks to how that match ended which added to the drama of several of the false finishes down the stretch. This built very well and the second half was nuts. It had me grasping for air on several occasions. Omega & Page retain in a TV barnburner. The Bucks come out to help them/confront them as they will challenge them at Revolution.

Match rating - ****

AEW has action figures now! They show The Bucks, Kenny, Cody, Brandi, and Jericho getting their first look at their figures. Real cool.

5) Cody (w/ Arn Anderson & Brandi Rhodes) vs. Wardlow (w/ MJF) - Steel Cage Match

They replay us the build to this match. MJF has put Cody through hell and does moreso here as Wardlow busts Cody open a few minutes in. Wardlow puts a beating on Cody with blood running down his face. Cool moment with MJF challenging Arn Anderson on the outside to slam the door on Cody's face and turn on him like he did his father. Instead, Arn slams MJF with it. They also have a spot with Brandi hitting MJF with a chair as he tried to climb the cage. But the moment from this that will live forever is a fearless, bleeding, babyface Cody Rhodes doing a moonsault off the top of the cage onto Wardlow - without even looking back! INSANE. Cody finishes it.

Match rating - ***3/4

MJF lays on the ramp in peril and shocked as Cody celebrates on top of the cage with the entire arena behind him. BABYFACE OF THE GOD DAMN YEAR. This feud rules.

AEW knocks it out of the park for a second week in a row. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

WWE NXT Review - February 12th, 2020

Live from Full Sail University 
February 12th, 2020 

Commentators - Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix, & Nigel McGuinness

TONIGHT: Cameron Grimes faces Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole faces KUSHIDA

Roderick Strong hits the ring to start the show. He demands an apology from Velveteen Dream for putting his wife & kids photos on his ring gear. He gets Bronson Reed instead who wants payback for being attacked for no reason by UE last week. 

1) Roderick Strong vs. Bronson Reed

Roddy is such a king. Despite being a heel, he literally shoved the ref out of the way to get to Bronson to start this impromptu match. So intense. Reed is the former Jonah Rock, this is my first time seeing him in NXT but he was good on the mic here. Match is fine, decent enough slugfest. Biggest pop was Roddy somehow suplexing Reed off the top rope. Velveteen's light and stage stuff comes on and distracts Roddy. Reed hits an insane dive and rolls Strong back in. He goes for a splash but catches a flying knee to the face. Roddy wins. 

Match rating - **3/4 

Velveteen comes up on the screen to taunt Roddy with more stuff about his family and dear god this shit is personal. I'm honestly scared to see how intense Roderick Strong is in this match at Takeover. 

Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne are going on a road trip or..  a "bro trip" to Portland. They're in a convertible with the trophy sticking out and get pulled over by the cops lmao. Dunne doesn't have a license so the car gets towed and now they're trying to find a new way to Takeover Portland. What a segment.

POPPY - FILL THE CROWN is the theme song for Takeover Portland and she's performing LIVE at the event fUCK YEAH. 

Angel Garza is backstage and he has a rematch with Lio Rush. They had a badass ****1/4 match late last year so I'm big stoked. Lio walks up and says he wasn't the same guy he was during that match and he's better, faster and stronger. Garza laughs him off. 

2) Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai

Queen Candice is amazing as always. 4 tope's to get Kai down. And they go back and forth in a pretty high impact match before Kai gets the cheap victory with a roll up. 

Match rating - **3/4 

Tegan Knox attacks Dakota Kai after the match and they have a pull apart brawl. Kai put Knox on the injured list so they've got big beef. 

3) Johnny Gargano vs. Cameron Grimes

It's still wild to me how popular of a Babyface Gargano became. He's still super over here in his return match. But I felt super jaded during this whole match. Grimes is nothing but moves in NXT, it seems like his charisma got lost and traded in for the hat they gave him as a gimmick. And Gargano can be hit or miss in that department. If you can get invested in this it's fun because they nail everything without a mis step but to me it's a lifeless exhibition. Gargano wins. Best thing about this was Gargano's message to Finn Balor to the camera afterwards. 

Match rating - **1/2

Great backstage interview with Adam Cole on KUSHIDA and Ciampa. 

Dunne & Riddle vignette part two airs and they're on a peddle boat and Riddle has a light bulb go off on how they're gonna get to Portland. Dunne is annoyed. This segment is to be continued. 

Next week - Roderick Strong vs. Velveteen Dream 

4) Angel Garza vs. Lio Rush - #1 Contenders Match for the Cruiserweight Title 

These two had a gem last winter and this wasn't anywhere near that level but it was still good. Tables are flipped character wise in this incarnation of these two meeting, and Lio Rush gets his win back in a fast paced match via a cradle pin against the villainous Angel Garza. 

Match rating - ***

NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin comes out to intimidate Lio Rush. They face off next week. I like Devlin, but tbh they had a real nice set up with Garza, Rush, and Scott feuding over the title and it's felt a little weird just shifting Devlin into that but I'm sure it probably has something to do with Garza moving up to Raw. None the less, Devlin and Rush should be good, excited for that next week! 

Mark Henry shows up on screen to put over Keith Lee and Dominick Dijakovic. This rules. 

5) Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett

Squash for Bianca. She challenges Rhea Ripley on Sunday at Takeover Portland. Ripley comes out post match looking unphased only to get planted by Belair. 

Riddle & Dunne find a plane to take to Portland. They sneak into the luggage area and it's apparently Triple H's plane that they just snuck into lmao. 

6) Adam Cole vs. KUSHIDA

This stemmed from the same thing Strong/Reed did earlier. Last week's Undisputed Era attack on Reed and KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA actually pushes Cole into a decent match formula here and this ends up being my favorite match on the show. KUSHIDA even busted out the kawada kicks to the head. Good fun. Cole ends it with Last shot. 

Match rating - ***1/4 

Tommasso Ciampa comes out afterwards to tease the upcoming Takeover match with Cole. They do this staredown and out loud Ciampa says "at Takeover I take my life back" and Cole responds "over my dead body you do" - well.. that was something. 

I concur with the general consensus I read online that this was a weird ep of NXT. Almost more hype for next week's tv show than Takeover itself here. None the less, I'll be watching and reviewing Takeover Portland and I expect a good show! It's hard to produce a *bad* episode of NXT so this was enjoyable even if it was a little dull at some points. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

AEW Dynamite Review - February 12th, 2020

AEW Dynamite Live on TNT 
February 12th, 2020
Austin, Texas 

Commentary - Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, & Excalibur

Word on the street is that this is the best top to bottom episode of Dynamite in 2020 so far, and possibly since it's inception. I haven't watched in a week or so, so let's find out :-)

If the opening video package is any indication than I'd say most definitely bc wow it made it seem like so much is going on and lots of character development I LOVED it. 

1) Kenny Omega & Hangman Page (c) vs. SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) (w/ Christopher Daniels) - AEW World Tag Team Title Match

Before the match, Dark Order appears on the screen saying they're watching. Chris Daniels goes backstage to investigate. They continue to tease where Daniels' allegiance lies. The match ends up getting started and it RULES. Crowd is hot. They tease both teams getting their finishers only to get cut off. After the hot start settles, SCU isolates Omega and builds to the hot tag for Page. It all pops off all over again and Omega & Page debut the v trigger/buck shit lariat combo finisher to get the win and retain the titles. Kazarian reaches for the bottom rope right at the three count which was an amazing touch. 

Match rating - ***3/4

Post match, The Dark Order surrounds the ring. It turns into a huge tag team showdown since there's a big battle royal with all of them next week. Best Friends, Jack Evans & Angelico, Butcher & Blade all come out. Young Bucks are the Babyface save. Big brawl goes down and the Bucks stand tall. The Dark Order doesn't get on my nerves as much as they do to most other people. 

Jim Ross' pre taped interview with Santana of LAX airs. It's really good and hypes Santana's match with Jon Moxley later. Moxley attacked Santana last week in retaliation to Jericho's attack on him by stabbing Santana in the eye. Santana took it personally bc his father was blind. He says he will show Moxley what it's truly like to live in the dark tonight. 

2) Sammy Guevara (w/ Jake Hager) vs. Dustin Rhodes 

Had to let the hometown hero get his shit in. Last time Sammy beat Dustin thanks to Jake Hager. This time Dustin gets his revenge and hits another damn destroyer which is nuts. 

Match rating - **3/4

After the match, Dustin asks "Jericho's bitch" Jake Hager if he's ever gonna step in the ring because "You broke my arm and I want a piece of your ass at Revolution" OH NY GOD. Hager paces towards the ring only to walk away with Guevara. 

Apparently Britt Baker pulled Yuka's tooth out last week? What the hell did I miss? She actually cuts an awesome promo here with Tony Schiavone and I am so glad she turned heel and is salvaging this character. She had the Austin, TX crowd in the palm of her hand. YESSSSS. Bad ass. So wild that JR's cue out was "we've gotta take another break, this is terrible" lmao. 

3) Riho (c) vs. Nyla Rose - AEW Women's Title Match 

Very good match here with a simple story.  Nyla lost to Riho in the initial match to crown a women's champion and then proceeded to go on an undefeated warpath while Riho was busy defending the title. Now they meet here again after Nyla attacked Riho inspired by PAC as a way to spite Riho's friend Kenny Omega. This was everything good about both women. Just your perfect big vs small match with Riho fighting from under and hitting some crazy moves you'd never expect like several of Omega's suplex variations even attempting a v trigger which was a nice touch to part of the backstory. Nyla even attempted a one winged angel. But in the end, a huge sit out powerbomb ended it. New Women's Champion! 

Match rating - ***3/4

The New Women's Champion, Nyla Rose steps backstage to a hug from Tony Khan and a disappointed Kenny Omega standing by. Nyla is pissed that no one applauded and no one was there to greet her aside from a disappointed Omega and 5 of her future contenders who just stared. Nyla tells Kenny that this is just getting started.. 

Backstage, Chris Jericho and the rest of the Inner Circle are being interviewed. Jericho announces JEFF COBB is the newest member of Inner Circle and is coming for Moxley next week. WILDDDD, that is so sick and I can't wait to see what Cobb can do in AEW.

They replay Cody being brutally whipped by MJF last week as Brandi Rhodes joins the commentary team for the next match. 

4) MJF vs. Jungle Boy

They gave these two a good amount of time to work and it was a nice change of pace. MJF is a new star but already super established so Jungle Boy almost got a rub from this by being the babyface in peril standing up to arguably the most hated man in AEW. This match really kinda showed me how well AEW has done in developing new names/characters. MJF's big lackey Wardlow came down when MJF started having trouble and gave him a ring which MJF used to punch Jungle Boy and led him to victory. 

Match rating - ***1/4

Next week: Cody Rhodes vs. Wardlow in a Steel Cage Match 

And ALSO next week T-Hawk FINALLY debuts with CIMA as part of the tag team battle royal.

An ad also airs hyping a 30 Min Iron Man Match between Kenny Omega and PAC in two weeks in Kansas City - WOWWWWW 

Chris Jericho, Jake Hager and Sammy Guevara enter the skybox to watch the main event. The crowd sings along to Jericho's theme song. I love that. 

5) Jon Moxley vs. Santana

"eye for an eye" as they billed it. This was a fun brawl. Moxley continues to kill it in 2020, the aurora and hype around him is so sick. I also love LAX's theme music. Anyway this was just a simple enjoyable brawl. Mox wins with the dirty deeds. 

Match rating - ***

Post match beatdown ensues and we get the debut of JEFF COBB. Great reaction and debut for him. The Inner Circle is looking good and that match next week is gonna pop off if it happens (Mox/Cobb). 

Awesome show. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

NJPW: The New Beginning In Osaka 2020 Review (February 9th, 2020)

NJPW: The New Beginning in Osaka
February 9th, 2020 
1) Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, & Yuji Nagata vs. Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare, Togi Makabe, & Ryusuke Taguchi 

This is Nakanishi's last match in Osaka before retirement so there's a lot of legends in this one from Nagata to Honma to Taguchi. This was a simple, feel good opener as Kojima gets the pinfall with an assist from Nakanishi in his Osaka farewell. 

Match rating - **1/4

2) Roppongi 3k (Sho & Yo) (c) vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru - IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Match 

Sho & Yo are so consistent as a team and they delivered another super solid effort here. Desperado & Kanemaru targeted the knee of Sho and worked it from bell to bell which built the comeback of R3k that resulted in them retaining the titles. Good stuff all the way around. 

Match rating - ***1/2

Post match, Taguchi comes out with a basketball. Asks Rocky Romero to team with him to challenge R3k for the junior tag titles. Rocky accepts and holy hell this is gonna rule. Rocky & Taguchi are such solid veteran hands and after Rocky's insane BOSJ performance last year I am super stoked to see him mix it up with the two men he's had under his wing for years. 

3) Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Juice Robinson, & David Finlay vs. Guerillas of Destiny, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi 

Soooo admittedly and obviously, Bullet Club is not what it used to be and is way past it's heyday but to be honest, I still sorta fuck with it. Whether it's full of all stars or not, or the concept is burnt out or not, everyone currently in the group has a great grasp on the schtick and I enjoy it no matter how cringe it can be sometimes. But none the less, this went about how you'd expect. The faces win and BC attacks them immediately after the bell. I love the Tana/Ibushi tandem, I hope they can spice up the tag title scene over the next few months. 

Match rating - **3/4 

4) Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi

The two main events from Sapporo collide here in tag action and it's great fun. Ospreay and Sabre still have some unfinished business so the fire is still under that and Okada is Okada and he's perfect for hot finishing sequences so when you bring that to tag form it's sick. Nothing crazy here, but real good tag match with a nice closing stretch.

Match rating - ***1/2 

5) Jay White vs. SANADA 

To preface this, I actually skipped this match on my original watch through of this whole show so that probably tells you where I stand with these two. But they honestly turned this into a fairly enjoyable match. Although Sanada has become less interesting to me as time has gone on, Jay has grown on me and despite some overbooking/interference this had some good exchanges near the end. Sanada loses and officially is 6 months without a victory, that's rough. Maybe they can pull a good story out of that!

Match rating - ***

6) Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. Ryu Lee - IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match

The epic feud continues here between the freshly returned and crowned IWGP Junior Champion Takahashi and the former Dragon, Ryu Lee. This was just as awesome, if not more so than all their previous encounters. It started off differently with a stiff chop battle that went a good 5 or so minutes, something not normal for the junior style especially in the year 2020. Lots of crazy spots thrown in here too though to keep with the tradition of both these men being completely out of their minds against one another. After a barnburner, Takahashi retains. I actually liked this a little more than his match with Ospreay at WK last month that also got rave reviews. Match of the night.

Match rating - ****1/2

7) Jon Moxley (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki - IWGP US Heavyweight Title Match 

From the moment this erupted on the second night of Wrestle Kingdom, I was insanely excited. An absolute dream match and the start of it with Moxley going up the ramp and challenging Suzuki to come get him which ensued a chair duel was the perfect kick off to a great brawl that played to both men's strength. A death rider onto a chair ends it with Mox retaining after a 15 minute slugfest. 

Match rating - ****

8) Testuya Naito (c) vs. KENTA - IWGP Heavyweight and IC Title Match 

Naito made history at Wrestle Kingdom becoming the first ever double champion in New Japan history. He also FINALLY defeated Okada after years of falling short. For those reasons, this first defense is super important. The start of a new era and the question of if Naito can stand the test of time against a newly motivated, and villainous KENTA. I found myself very enthused heading into this which I don't think I would have believed if you told me 8 months ago. But KENTA joining BC envigorated so much more interest in him after the age began to show in his initial return and honestly, how could anyone expect the Kenta from 14 years ago to show up? But regardless the KENTA of 2020 has sunk his teeth into a new dynamic and I think it's awesome whether the opinions on it are split or not. The Bullet Club frontman brought his cohorts to the ring with him only for them to be booted and the first 15 mins of this match end up being a cat/mouse game by KENTA with an insanely slow build which can either sit wrong or right with me but I loved it here. Now admittedly the climax out of this control sequence didn't quite hit me right, I did enjoy the Hiromu spot where he interfered to save Naito from a Jay White assault considering what's to come between them. The final 10 minutes of the match ruled with the action picking up and Naito getting busted open which added to the drama as he bled profusely in the process of putting KENTA down for the three count. This was an overall good match, but not the epic I thought it could be heading into it and even in the opening moments. Still a great first defense for Naito none the less as he bleeds for his spot as double champion. 

Match rating - ***3/4

Post match, Naito challenges stable mate Hiromu Takahashi to the annual Heavy vs Jr champion match at the upcoming Anniversary show. YESSSSS. CANNOT WAIT to see those two go all out as I'm sure they will for such a big match.