December 11th, 2020
It’s Bullet Club vs. CHAOS here in this opener and it’s more fun than any Fale/Owens match from WTL. Honestly surprised me how enjoyable this was. Very action packed and compact with BC getting a dominant win and bullying Yano post match for trying to slam Fale. They break his KOPW trophy and his go pro :(
Match rating - **3/4
2) Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, & Great O’ Khan (w/ Bea Priestley) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & Toa Henare
It’s the first time seeing the Empire all together in the same match. Okada calls out Ospreay to start and surprisingly gets him and we get a preview of January 4th to start which is cool. Since this the Empire’s first trios match it’s important they get an impressive showing and they definitely did. Henare looked like he may have Cobb beat, but he doesn’t and gets put away with Tour of the Islands. Another fun match that helped further build towards Wrestle Kingdom with GOK taking a chair to the leg of Tanahashi after an OsCutter from Ospreay. So not only are we getting Okada/Ospreay, but boy does it look like GOK/Tana is likely now too.
Match rating - **1/2
3) EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Shingo Takagi & SANADA
Togo chokes out SANADA early and Shingo is in a 2 on 1 situation. This makes for an insane comeback from SANADA as he shows an urgency and intensity I’ve NEVER seen from him as he attacks EVIL and throws stiff blows to his former partners face. Meanwhile, this allows Shingo to destroy Yujiro for the win. Very short match, more about the brawl between SANADA and EVIL which carried on after the match and into the back.
Match rating - **1/4
Shingo is left alone in the ring and Jeff Cobb shows up. He takes the NEVER belt. Shingo tries to take it back and gets pulled into tour of the islands! Awesome spot. Cobb wants Shingo’s NEVER title as he poses over him with it after this assault.
4) Kota Ibushi & Master Wato vs. Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI
Wow, what a huge match for Wato to be in. And wow we are getting to see Naito & Ibushi link it up before WK. They are really pushing how dangerous those two are in the ring together by having a doctor at ringside even for this match and that scares me for what they will do at Wrestle Kingdom. This was the best of the opening matches on this show. Wato gets worn down by LIJ, Ibushi gets the hot tag and there’s an awesome finishing run. Wato does a corkscrew plancha onto Naito whilst Ibushi hits BUSHI with kamigoye for the win.
Match rating - ***
5) Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) - World Tag League Tournament Finals
FinJuice are looking for their second tournament victory in a row. GoD has kinda been the story of the tournament, as expected, as they are trying to get the one thing that has always alluded them - the World Tag League Tournament victory/trophy. The match is about what you'd expect. They deliver some good action and there's some interference. Jado is thrown out early, but returns which allows for fellow Bullet Club member KENTA to SMACK Juice with the IWGP US Title briefcase which leads to the GoD victory & also busts Juice open OOF. That was nasty. GoD gets the victory they have been preaching about for a while. Fun stuff.
Match rating - ***1/2
6) Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado - Best of the Super Juniors 27 Tournament Finals
If you would’ve told me this would be the finals match a few month ago, I’d probably be underwhelmed. As someone who has watched NJPW moderately for a couple years, I admit Desperado is not someone who ever caught my eye. I watched mostly all big events then just the standout matches, so I never saw much of him except a couple of Junior tag matches or some random BOSJ stuff from prior years. I really regret that because in this tournament that some people have called less star studded without the additions of many outside talent and the loss of Shingo & Ospreay to the heavyweight division, I feel a number of people who have been around a while got a chance to break out. And El Desperado is undoubtedly the one that not only broke out, but completely solidified himself as a top singles star in the Junior division. Great matches across the board and the history I’ve learned he has with Hiromu & DOUKI.. it’s just all so fucking good. And then we get here and holy shit almighty. This match is one of the best NJPW matches of the entire year and possibly my favorite one. As said before, Hiromu & Desperado have a steep history together as young lions. One I highly recommend looking into because it’s what makes this match so special. Hiromu has been a star for a while, Desperado has been on the back burner and he’s sick of it and will do anything to show Hiromu up on the biggest stage of all. These two throw absolute bombs and give each other everything they’ve got. The moment that turned this into an epic though was Hiromu ripping part of Despy’s mask off and Despy stands up and rips the rest of it off himself and they ABSOLUTELY TEAR INTO EACH OTHER. FUCK. These two went to war. Despy gets the Death Valley driver into the corner that has the turnbuckles exposed and it bruises and cuts his back/shoulder open. He’s bleeding in his front teeth. He fought like hell and refused to give up even after a timebomb. It takes two to put him away after the best match of his career and the best match of this tournament. Hiromu wins his second BOSJ. Epic match. Wow.
Match rating - ****3/4