By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Golden Fight Series”
April 25, 2022 in Hiroshima, Japan at Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
Japanese-only commentary. This appears to be an excellent attendance.
1. Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe defeated Tiger Mask and Yuto Nakashima at 8:21. Yuto is already so much better than either of his aging opponents. I wish they would surprise us and let a Young Lion win. Yuto tied up Honma’s legs. Honma hit a second-rope diving headbutt on Yuto for the pin. Substandard match.
2. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Douki, and Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Ryohei Oiwa, Master Wato, and Ryusuke Taguchi at 10:14. The heels attacked to start the match. Wato and Douki traded some good offense. The heels began working over Wato, with Sabre tying him in a pretzel. Sabre leveled Oiwa with a European Uppercut. Wato hit a spin kick to Kanemaru’s face at 5:00. Taguchi hit a flying butt attack on Kanemaru for a nearfall. Oiwa applied a Boston Crab on Sabre. However, Sabre somehow turned it into a head-scissors lock with his legs, and Oiwa tapped out. Passable action that was at its best at the end with Sabre vs. Oiwa.
3. Taiji Ishimori and Gedo defeated El Desperado and Taka Michinoku at 8:39. The storyline here is that Ishimori has an upcoming title shot for Desperado’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title; those two traded good offense to start. Desperado applied a Stretch Muffler leghold on Gedo at 6:00. Ishimori tied up Taka and hit a Lungblower to the chest for the pin. Decent match.
4. Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens defeated Yoshi-Hoshi and Hirooki Goto at 11:01. The heels attacked to start the match. Fale dragged Yoshi-Hoshi to the floor and beat him up there. The heels worked over Goto in the ring; this is basic action, not bad, but not thrilling either. They did a fun spot at 7:00 where Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi were lying on a pile of Owens and Fale, with Owens in pain from three bodies on top of him. Owens hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Yoshi-Hoshi for a nearfall. Owens went for a package pileddriver but Yoshi-Hoshi escaped. The babyfaces went for their team slam move but Owens escaped.
Goto hit a Saito Suplex on Owens. Fale got a tall walking stick and fought with Goto over it; Goto accidentally hit Yoshi-Hoshi with it. Fale hit a clothesline on Goto while Owens simultaneously hit a German Suplex; Owens immediately hit a top-rope elbow drop on Goto for the pin. Really good action the final couple minutes, and I am intrigued if Yoshi-Hoshi will be upset at Goto after being struck by that stick.
5. Bushi, Tetsuya Naito, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Kazuchika Okada, Yoh, and Toru Yano at 11:27. Yoh and Hiromu charged at each other at the bell; they have a big singles match on Sunday. Toru tagged in and yanked Hiromu to the mat by his hair. Okada tagged in and worked over Hiromu, while glaring at Naito on the ring apron. Nice. Hiromu and Yoh brawled to the floor at 3:30, while Naito attacked Okada on the floor. In the ring, LIJ worked over Yoh. Hiromu entered and hit hard chops. Yoh hit a flying forearm, and they were both down at 6:30.
Okada entered and hit a DDT on Bushi. Bushi hit a mid-ring huracanrana on Okada, and they were both down. Naito got in and hit a basement dropkick to Okada’s back. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his knee, and he applied the Money Clip sleeper hold. Okada hit a Mafia Kick, and they were both down at 10:30. Yano entered and he got a schoolboy rollup on Naito for a nearfall. The LIJ members each hit a move on Yano, ending with Naito getting a rollup for the pin. Decent match and best of the show so far.
* Naito and Okada jawed after the match, and Naito nailed his Destino flipping faceplant, leaving Okada lying on the mat.
6. Sho, EVIL, and Yujiro Takahashi (w/Dick Togo) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tama Tonga, and Tanga Loa (w/Jado) to retain the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles at 17:09. The heels attacked at the bell but the faces quickly cleared the ring. All eight brawled. The babyfaces took turns working over Sho’s left arm. EVIL beat up Tama Tonga on the floor; they also have a big singles match on Sunday’s show. Tanahashi and EVIL traded offense, with Tanahashi hitting a basement dropkick on his knee at 6:30. The heels began working over Tanahashi.
Tama Tonga got in and beat up Gedo, and the crowd was really hot. Tonga hit a Stinger Splash on EVIL for a nearfall. Tonga and Loa hit simultaneous suplexes on heels at 9:00. Tama went for a Sharpshooter but EVIL raked his eyes. Tama then successfully got the move on. The other babyfaces tied up the other heels. Loa and Yujiro entered at 11:30, and Loa hit a running Bulldog Powerslam, then a top-rope clothesline for a nearfall.
Tanahash hit a swinging neckbreaker on Sho, then a running clothesline on Yujiro. Loa hit a top-rope frogsplash on Yujiro for a believable nearfall, but EVIL made the save. Loa and Yujiro traded stiff forearms mid-ring and Loa hit a spear at 16:30. Loa went for another move, but EVIL hit a low blow while the ref was distracted, and Sho hit Loa with a wrench. That allowed Yujiro to hit his Pimp Juice/jumping DDT for the cheap pin. This match topped all expectations; it actually has me carrying about a Yujiro match this Sunday, when he faces Tanga Loa.
7. Shingo Takagi defeated Taichi to win the KOPW Trophy at 26:18. Whoever gets a total of 30 ‘counts’ first wins this match (for instance, 15 two-counts would win the match). Interesting twist. They each got some quick rollups for one- and two-counts, and it was tied 3-3. Taichi began taking control in the ring and expanded the lead to 9-5. Shingo nailed a clothesline, got some nearfalls, and tied it 9-9 at 11:00.
They traded hard forearms and Taichi nailed an enzuigiri, and he built a 13-9 lead. Shingo hit the Made In Japan sitdown slam for a nearfall at 14:30. Taichi hit a Saito Suplex for a nearfall, and he built a 15-11 lead. Shingo hit a top-rope superplex for a nearfall at 17:00. Taichi gets a rollup and the score is 17-13. Taichi nailed an Air Raid Crash and got a six-count! The score is now 23-13. I assumed it would end if the count reached three.
Shingo got a few quick rollups, then another Made In Japan for a four-count, and suddenly the score is suddenly tied 23-23. They traded stiff forearms at 23:00. Taichi got a rollup for a five-count and he took at 28-23 lead. The crowd is now really hot as the end is clearly near. Taichi made it 29-24, but Shingo nailed another Made In Japan and got the six-count to win 30-29.
Final Thoughts: Well, that was a fun and different main event, and the crowd was thrilled with the win and title change. This show started slow with three very basic matches; I would have much rather seen Sabre-Oiwa in a singles match than the rest of the guys in that six-man tag. However, the Fale/Owens tag match topped expectations, and the next two matches were really good too.
New Japan is still waiting for some of its stars, such as Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb and Will Ospreay, to return for their next big show on May 1. That show is looking good with Okada vs. Naito, Ospreay vs. Tanahashi, Desperado vs. Ishimori and EVIL vs. Tama Tonga.