By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Windy City Riot”
April 16, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois at Odeum Expo Center
Streamed live on FITE TV
I made the five-hour trek to the western Chicago suburbs Saturday, April 16, 2022, for New Japan’s “Windy City Riot.” This venue is an aging fieldhouse. This is a legit sellout of about 2,000 fans for NJPW’s Chicago-area debut. I arrived early. A lot of fans showed up early for a $25-per-person meet-and-greet with Jay White and Will Ospreay, where you got a picture with the wrestler and an autograph.
The only notable thing is they didn’t open the doors until 6:15 p.m. CST, and the dark match started at 6:30, so very, very few fans were in the building for it.
(Pre-Show) Rocky Romero and Wheeler Yuta defeated The DKC and Kevin Knight at 9:26. It is just amazing how over Wheeler Yuta has gotten in the past two weeks. The students still wore standard black trunks. Yuta won with a frogsplash on DKC.
The pay-per-view started at 7 p.m. sharp. There were a smattering of empty seats, but they were all filled later.
1. “The Factory” QT Marshall, Aaron Solo, and Nick Comoroto defeated Karl Fredericks, Yuya Uemera, Clark Connors at 11:56. Marshall got on the mic and ran down Chicago for some cheap heat. QT hit a low blow on Uemera to get the pin. Solid action with six guys constantly in and out of the ring, it certainly never dragged.
2. Fred Rosser, Alex Coughlin, Ren Narita, Josh Alexander, and Chris Dickinson defeated Danny Limelight, JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs, Jorel Nelson, and Black Tiger at 13:45. Josh Alexander was by far the most over guy on his team, with a loud “Walking Weapon” chant. The most memorable spot was the massive Kratos leaping face-first over the top rope onto everyone below. Rosser applied a submission hold, and Black Tiger tapped out (I was seated directly across from the hard camera, so I couldn’t see the submission hold).
Tom Lawlor hit the ring for a post-match beat-down on the babyfaces, which brought Yuji Nagata out for the next match…
3. Tom Lawlor defeated Yuji Nagata at 13:57. This was solid but not much to write about it. They traded mat holds and attempted submissions. Lawlor applied a submission. Yuji appeared to pass out, so Lawlor dropped him and pinned him. My least favorite match of the night, but some people undoubtedly loved this.
4. Mark Davis, Kyler Fletcher, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, TJP, and Aaron Henare defeated Scott Norton, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Chris Bey, El Phantasmo, and Hikuleo at 11:39. TJP and Bey opened with a fantastic reversal series. Cobb and Norton entered to a huge pop. I assumed Norton wasn’t going to leave his feet and take a bump but I was wrong. Cobb hit an overhead suplex on Norton, but Norton popped up to his feet for a massive pop. He then gave Cobb an identical suplex, and Cobb sold the pain.
The other memorable spot is El Phantasmo always does a silly spot where he does flips and summersaults, and ends with a mere back rake. He did that on TJP in the corner. Each of Phantasmo’s partners got in and did a back rake spot on TJP. It was entertaining. I have seen Aussie Open just a few times, but they impressed. One of them got the pin. The action was nonstop.
5. Juice Robinson, David Finlay, and Brody King defeated Jonah, Bad Dude Tito, and Shane Haste in a Chicago Street Fight at 28:51. This flew by even though it was longest match of the night. They broke off into three pairs and brawled through the crowd for the first full 8:00. They got in the ring and used the weapons you would expect: chairs, tables, doors, ladders. In a fun spot, they tossed a lot of unopened chairs in the ring, and each of the babyfaces hit a top-rope superplex on an opponent onto the chairs piled in the middle.
In another incredible spot, Jonah hit a top-rope splash onto a ladder set up between the ring apron and the guardrail. Jonah got his hands on David Finlay’s shillelagh, and he got a large (Triple H) mallet to destroy it, and the crowd loudly booed. However, the babyfaces were able to save it. Finlay nailed Jonah with the weapon to pin him. Just a fantastic brawl, and it didn’t have any blood or light tubes or glass.
In a poignant moment, Juice walked around the ring and waved at everyone, and he hugged Finlay, as this is apparently his final match of his New Japan contract.
6. Jay White defeated Shota Umino in the “U.S. of Jay” challenge at 15:46. I had been told by a fan outside she had spotted Eddie Kingston having a smoke earlier in the day, so I assumed he was the mystery opponent. Instead, we saw a video of a close-up of Jon Moxley, who turned to Umino and told him to “go get him!” Umino has developed really good size. New Japan really needs to get him home and into the top tier mix. All that said, White dominated and the winner was never in doubt. White hit his spinning faceplant for the win. After the match, White grabbed the mic, teased saying something, but dropped it and left the ring. Funny.
7. Tomohiro Ishii defeated Minoru Suzuki at 18:29. Exactly the brutality everyone hoped for. Lots of hard chops and stiff forearms, with them each doing their best to shrug it off. On a couple occasions, Minoru tried to get Ishii up for a Gotch-style piledriver, but Ishii was able to fight it off. Ishii finally won it with a brainbuster suplex for the pin. Incredibly watchable and my favorite of the night.
* After the match, Eddie Kingston hit the ring and challenged Ishii to a match at the next big New Japan show in Washington DC. Yes, please. Ishii accepted.
8. Jon Moxley defeated Will Ospreay at 21:23. The six other members of the United Empire came to the ring with Ospreay and stayed on their knees at ringside, never interfering. In a great spot, Ospreay hit a top-rope dive over the guardrail onto Moxley, set up on a table in the crowd. Moxley bled early and a LOT. Ospreay, of course, wiped it over his chest. Some people might find this blood loss excessive. Moxley hit two consecutive double-arm DDTs to score the pin. It appeared that Ospreay kicked out at three, but the referee held firm on the result; it is unclear if this was actually the planned finish or the ref messed up. Moxley gave the ref a DDT.
Moxley got on the mic afterward and challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi to a match in Washington DC. He said Tanahashi has been ducking him for three years, but that ends now. He said he is New Japan’s “new ace,” which drew a reaction.
Final Thoughts: I was so worried all week that COVID protocols would cause someone to miss the show, but everyone was there. Just a fantastic night of wrestling. Ishii-Suzuki was my favorite, with Moxley-Ospreay close behind. The Chicago street fight was fantastic and was third-best. The first half of the show was entertaining, but none of those matches were designed to steal the show.