Sunday, April 17, 2022

NJPW: Windy City Riot Review - April 16th, 2022

NJPW Windy City Riot
April 16th, 2022
Chicago, Illinois 

NJPW Strong Openweight Champion - Tom Lawlor (since 4/23/21)
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions - Jeff Cobb & Great O' Khan (since 4/9/22)

Commentators - Kevin Kelly & Matt Rehwoldt

1) Yuya Uemura, Clark Connors, & Karl Fredericks vs. QT Marshall, Nick Comoroto, & Aaron Solow

This was a decent enough opener. The feed was cutting in and out and actually cut out completely for a minute or so. For this reason, I don’t want to comment too much, but everything about this seemed super solid so YEAH. Good kick off, technical issues aside. 

Match rating - **1/4

2) Chris Dickinson, Fred Rosser, Ren Narita, Josh Alexander, & Alex Coughlin vs. Team Filthy (JR Kratos, Danny Limelight, Black Tiger, Royce Isaacs, & Jorel Nelson)

Welll god damn. I didn’t expect to enjoy this so much. But holy shit it ruled. All the preliminary action is just fine with everyone getting a chance to shine then shit breaks down. JR Kratos and Alex Coughlin have an awesome back & forth before Kratos completely steals the show with a fucking dive over the corner top rope onto everyone else on the outside. Truly fucking insane shit. Between this and the Bloodsport match with Thatcher a few weeks ago, I’m fully on board with Kratos. This leads to Rosser and Black Tiger showing out in the final moments with Rosser tapping out Black Tiger for the victory. 

Match rating - ***1/4

After the match, Tom Lawlor comes down to help his team assault Rosser following the loss. This leads to Yuji Nagata coming out for the save and demanding their match be made a title match. Andddddd here we go!!!

3) Tom Lawlor (c) vs. Yuji Nagata - NJPW STRONG OPENWEIGHT TITLE MATCH

So, I can't even front. The feed cut out for some of this and totally ruined my focus on the match. What I saw was good. Lawlor is super underrated and Nagata can still go. They brawled around the outside a little bit early on, but from what I saw this was largely submission based. In the end, Lawlor gets a big victory to retain his championship. I'm going to re-watch this before giving a rating and will update it in due time.

4) BULLET CLUB (Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Chris Bey, El Phantasmo, Hikuleo, & Scott Norton) vs. UNITED EMPIRE (Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, Mark Davis, Great O Khan, Aaron Henare, & TJP) 

All I have to say is this. Great O Khan’s Mongolian chops and Brock Lesnar screams. This was a blast. Even if Scott Norton looked like shit. El Phantasmo also sucks. That is all. United Empire wins and onward we go. 

Match rating - *** (I wanted to go ***1/8 for this but Mike wouldn’t let me) 

5) Brody King, Juice Robinson, & David Finlay vs. JONAH, Shane Haste, & Bad Dude Tito - Chicago Street Fight 

Brody is wearing a gods hate shirt and looking hard as fuck. This turns out to be.. fucking great. They brawl into the crowd before going into a ton of sick spots in the ring. They cover the ring in chairs and we get a trio of spots off the turnbuckles into them.. including a Death Valley driver and a powerbomb. Both of which looked NASTY. Finlay took some nasty kendo stick shots to the back from JONAH, I’m talking nasty welts and bruising. JONAH hits a splash on Brody King through a ladder bridged from the apron to the ring railing. This leads to the finish with JONAH bringing out a sledge hammer and Finlay bringing out a sheleleigh. Finlay gets the win after repeated shots.. a perfect way to end this feud. 

Match rating - ***3/4

6) Jay White vs. Shota Umino - US OF JAY OPEN CHALLENGE MATCH 

FINALLY. Mox is reunited with Umino and Umino is back in a New Japan ring. After a stint in Rev Pro, and almost two years away from his mentor, Jon Moxley. We see a video package before he enters that shows Mox pumping him up to go answer the open challenge which got my so excited. Umino charged White at the bell with fire. This is about what you’d anticipate with Umino getting a couple of hope spots and one GREAT nearfall before White puts him away with the blade runner. It’s good to see SHOOTA back. Excited to see what this run means for him considering it’s beginning with a match as huge as this. 

Match rating - ***

7) Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Yanno.. heading into this. I thought these two may go a little easy. Run their touring house style match. Some good strikes and fighting spirit. A nearfall or two. But no.. these two had a fantastic match full of everything you could ask for and then some. Things begin with your vintage chop and forearm showdown, but they settle into a slower pace soon after and that's exactly when I began to realize what we were in for. Minutes later, they go into the final 7-8 minutes with guns blazing. Forearms, stiffer than the ones that started the match. Slaps. Fighting spirit. No selling lariats. Suzuki fighting for the piledriver, Ishii countering. HEADBUTTS. More headbutts than I anticipated and more headbutts than these two crazy motherfuckers probably should have done at their age. Everything seemed safe, though. This just felt like Suzuki & Ishii showing out for the American audience and showing anyone who may not have seen them go at it before what they've been missing out on. Lots of drama in the closing stretch and in the end, Ishii gets a big victory over Suzuki after one hell of a battle.

Match rating - ****

After the match, Eddie Kingston makes a surprise appearance to confront Tomohiro Ishii. Kingston says he lives and breathes the king's road and he wants Ishii on May 14th~!!!! YESSS!! This is a dream match of mine and I'm so stoked it's coming to life sooner than I expected.

8) Jon Moxley vs. Will Ospreay

This confirmed one thing - Jon Moxley is the Wrestler of the Year in the first half of 2022. He has had THREE MOTY candidate contests in the last three weeks alone, including this one. First, the Bloodsport bout with Biff Busick, then the bloodbath against Wheeler Yuta, and now this.. a brutal back and forth brawl with Will Ospreay. Everyone knows that I don't think much of Ospreay matches anymore. I don't want to dive too far into that, but the just is that he does cool stuff, but the only time a match really kicks into that gear for me is when someone else is in there, truly telling the story, setting the pace, and giving you that reason to care about what's happening. Moxley was that here. Mox showed OUT for Ospreay here. And truthfully, he's a perfect dancing partner for Will. They are polar opposites. As people, as characters, and as wrestlers. Moxley is a brawler and he took Will into his world 100% and made him wrestle his style of match. Ospreay had his shining moments, too, though. He hit all his signature moves/spots and they actually pulled me out of my seat because by the time we got to them, they're both gushing blood and have been through a slugfest.. so it felt like any move could end it. I swear, I think Moxley may have bladed twice here. Because he gushed, it slowed down, then he began gushing again near the end of the match. Not to jump ahead too far, though because one of my favorite parts of this entire thing was the beginning. Ospreay meets Moxley in the audience during his entrance and the two immediately start throwing shots at one another. This truly set the tone for the match and dug my teeth in from the jump. Down the stretch, we get great spots, but also awesome moments like Mox hitting the curb stomp.. yes.. the Seth Rollins curb stomp on Ospreay. Ospreay and Rollins have had spats on Twitter, and the fact that Mox & Rollins have so much history in WWE made this feel like a huge moment. Plus. Ospreay took it like a champ and showed fire in his kick out. The only real negative of this was the finish seemingly being blown by the ref. Mox hit two paradigm shift's and Ospreay kicked out two. Mox turns him over for a choke and as he's doing that.. the ref calls for the bell. After the bell, Will starts tapping. I'm unsure what exactly happened, but I don't think it was Mox or Ospreay's fault so I'm not even holding that against this match because it was too fantastic to gripe on. Even with a shitty feed, this was phenomenal and one of my favorite matches of the year so far. Moxley is on the run of a lifetime and I think you could argue that in April of 2022, there is no better wrestler in the world than him. 

Match rating - ****1/2

After the match, Moxley hits the ref with a DDT. Thanks for fucking up the finish, bud. Mox then proceeds to call out Hiroshi Tanahashi for the next NJPW show in America on May 14th in Washington, DC and Mox says.. there's a new ace in New Japan Pro Wrestling. DAMNNNNNN. 

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