NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 - Night 2 - Jan 5, 2020 ------------------------------------------------
0) Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Team - Gauntlet Match
Five 3-man teams representing the main factions, which I'm too lazy to type in at the moment.
Fun. Lots of stuff going on. Gives everybody some TV time. Ultimately, LIJ's Bushi, Evil & Shingo capture the titles based on Bushi mist to Takagi & a pin by Shingo.
1) Jushin Thunder Liger Retirement Match 2:
Liger & Naoki Sano, vs Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee (formerly Dragon Lee)
Our commentary team were selling that this wasn't going to be just a throw-away exhibition, & that was true. First set of stuff was all Liger, mostly against Hiromu, with some tags by Lee. The bulk of the match was Hiromu & Lee working really good tag team stuff against Liger.
Hiromu hits his Time Bomb on Liger for the win. And the feed cuts out, so we missed that moment. My feed came back as Liger was exiting. It was a good final match, & I appreciated how well the transfer from the old guard to the new was done.
2) Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship:
Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo (c); vs Sho & Yoh, w/ Rocky Romero
Fun match. And **finally**, knowing that ELP & Taiji are cheating Bullet Club bastards, somebody smartens up enough to get athletic cups for Sho & Yoh!! (Each painted in their respective gold & silver, naturally.) Good call, Rocky!!
Sho & Yoh get the titles, when BC's low blows have no effect.
3) British Heavyweight Championship:
Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs Sanada
(Gotta love Chris Charlton saying "Zed-ess-jay", & he's got Kevin Kelly doing it too!)
Pretty good match. Evidently, since Zack continually defeats Sanada trying to get that damn silly Paradise Lock, Sanada seems to have no chance against ZSJ.
4) US Heavyweight Championship:
Jon Moxley (c) vs Juice Robinson
Definitely mostly brawling, & really relatively little of the "hardcore" (chairs, tables, etc) stuff that we had with Archer last night -- this actually was an excellent shift of style, showing that Moxley has multiple playbooks. Moxley retains with his Death Rider finish.
This was a fine match, but was pretty evident that Juice was going to lose. Yeah, it wrapped up the Juice/Moxley series, & positioned (literally & figuratively) Moxley for the challenge by Suzuki. But it seemed kind of dismissive to Juice. In his backstage post-match interview, he was mostly talking about the tag team championship with Finlay being the important thing; although the "Moxley is still better than me." part was kind of sad.
5) Never Openweight Championship:
Kenta vs Hirooki Goto
I wasn't particularly invested in this. Goto won.
Odd that Goto got the win, given what was to happen at the end of the show.
6) Special "consolation" match:
Jay White, w/ Gedo, vs Kota Ibushi
Jay entered being confident & undaunted as always. Kota was more subdued -- even contrite. And **when** will some of these guys learn that they need to make a friend, so they can have a second at ringside!?!?! (When the Bucks used to second Kenny at ringside, they didn't interfere, but they were available to cancel out the opponent's second's cheating.) Dude.
I was much more comfortable with this match than I was last night -- it was good, & I didn't feel like anybody was legitimately fucked up.
As expected, Jay & Gedo cheated for the win. "We always have a plan! I told you so!"
7) Non-title match:
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Chris Jericho (AEW c)
So running up to this match, evidently Tana said something along the lines of: "If I beat Jericho, I should get to challenge for the AEW title, right?" And Jericho accepted, in a video. All of which I find pretty interestingly bizarre (& cool) !!!
I was kind of surprised that Jericho actually had the AEW title with him, so they're playing that seriously!!
This was way more fun than I'd expected. It seemed like they were both "playing nice" together, & it was entertaining!
Jericho retained with a couple of Lion Tamers, as the commentary team sold that that's all Young Lion kinda stuff. (I'm sure Jay White was entertained by "Tana Tapped Out". :-) )
Kazuchika Okada (Heavyweight) vs. Tetsuya Naito (Intercontinental)
I thought this was really, really good! Just yesterday, I blasphemed that I find Naito uninteresting, etc -- but this was a whole different-other thing. Okada worked his side exceptionally well; Naito was selling the bad knees perfectly; & there was a story that moved along throughout the match. This was a great finisher match!
Okada was cool & pragmatic after the loss, & they had a nice respect moment, with a clear "we'll be doing this again" message. And Naito is now the holder of both the Heavyweight Championship & the Intercontinental Championship.
$) As Naito was wrapping up his post-match in-ring speech, & mentioning his other LIJ teammates, we get the run-in ambush attack by Kenta. The same Kenta who couldn't even pull off a win in his earlier Never Openweight Championship match with Goto. WTF?? Yeah, it got him a huge hit of heel heat in the moment, but ... en serio ... really? Annnnd ... where were the rest of the LIJ boys? Bushi got out there eventually, but that was it. So much for the LIJ boys raising all their fists together in team unity. That whole exercise just came out really weird, from both sides of the thing.
"... put aside all the hurt feelings. Put aside all the egos. Put aside all of the isues & politics, & concentrate on great wrestling matches & big business.
"I haven't been doing this at the highest levels for 29 years, as what some people say am the Greatest of All Time, because I'm a stupid businessman.
"I can see the amount of money we could make together with AEW & New Japan. Both here in Japan, & in the United States, & Canada, & England, & Australia, & all around the world.
"So even though I beat Tanahashi tonight, I would be more than willing to wrestle him again, any time. And I would be more than willing to give him an AEW title shot. And Okada. And Naito. And Suzuki. And Ibushi. And Ospreay."
Yes!!! Way to wield position & influence, Mon Champion!! Excellent!!
It's so typical Liger (old school wrestling) to go out on his back two nights in a row. And it was a great match in which he played all the classics and Hiromu loved playing along.
ZSJ vs Sanada was a great match. I honestly feel they really don't know what to do with Sanada and Evil and just bounce them back up and down from singles to tag guys. But these two have great chemistry. Sanada always kinda has Zack's number, just not all the digits are in the right order so he never really beats him when it matters most
Goto defeating Kenta was unexpected but I guess it makes sense when you keep the end in mind (you don't want to make it a feud about three belts all of a sudden)
Jay White doesn't need the BC overbooking. And if they do want to go with this make the match a lot shorter. What a letdown.
All matches were good, solid an then we got the main event. I'm a Naito guy. Your words about night 1 hurt me (but I get it) I loved Okada's cockiness. Naito fighting back. Getting ready for his destiny. Bringing back the stardust press, everything needed to be thrown at Okada. And then he FINALLY pulled it off. What a match. Was it crazy like the Ibushi match the night before? No, but this match didn't need people landing on their head. It told a story many years in the making. Going back to Naito being voted out of the main event. Going back to LIJ being the hottest ticket in town two years ago when he came up short. And now was HIS night. Awesome.
So....after that. I figured it was weird the rest of LIJ didn't come out but maybe they wanted Naito to get all the spotlight. But seeing Kenta attack it makes sense ofcourse.
And oh my does the guy get GREAT heel heat. It's like nothing you usually see or hear in Japan. They HATE him for what he did to Shibata and they HATE that he interupted the role call. What a heel. Amazing
Quick New Years Dash add-on. Nothing too crazy happened there. Lots of potential matches were set up. It ended with Kenta stepping on Naito at the end again and getting mega-heat.