By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Music City Mayhem”
July 31, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Nashville Fairgrounds
Replay available via FITE TV
This is the same large fieldhouse that Game Changer Wrestling used a night earlier. Of course WWE’s Summer Slam was also in Nashville later in the evening, and the “Ric Flair’s final match” supercard is today. Like the GCW show, there were perhaps 800 to 1,000 fans here. New Japan set up guardrails around ringside, which were not there for the GCW show. Matt Rehwoldt and Ian Riccaboni provided commentary.
A note about the lineup: New Japan is running their G1 Climax heavyweight tournament right now in Japan, but that leaves the top juniors/cruiserweights without shows this month. So, it was a great idea to have Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado come to the United States for this event.
1. Shota Umino, Fred Yehi, and Yuya Uemera defeated The DKC, Kevin Knight, and Ren Narita at 13:08. Uemera and Narita opened, and the commentators talked about their long background together as Young Lions. Knight entered and hit a big shoulder tackle on Uemera at 3:30, and the Young Lion team worked over Uemera. Yehi made the hot tag and 6:30 and he traded quicker offense with Knight. Shota finally entered the ring for the first time at 7:30 to a big pop, and he traded offense with Narita. Narita hit a nice belly-to-belly overhead release suplex at 9:00. All six began brawling. Shota hit a nice Northern Lights suplex with a bridge for a nearfall at 11:30. Shota hit a pop-up knee strike on DKC for a believable nearfall. He hit a snap DDT on Narita for the pin. Satisfying opener.
2. Davey Richards defeated Rocky Romero to retain the MLW National Openweight Title at 11:09. These two were tag partners in Ring of Honor, and Riccaboni went through their lengthy history in multiple promotions as teammates. Richards wore his title belt around his waist beforehand. Standing switches and a feeling-out process. Richards applied the Stretch Muffler leg submission hold at 2:30, and Romero immediately reached the ropes. Richards cranked on the left leg and worked it over. Richards unloaded spin kicks to the chest that knocked Romero down, but Rocky kept popping up, drawing a pop.
Romero hit his Forever Clotheslines at 6:30. Richards isn’t cheating but he is getting the boos. Richards hit a Tornado DDT for a nearfall. Romero began working over the left arm, and he hit a double stomp on it as Richards was tied in the ropes at 8:30. Richards hit a dragon screw leg whip, but he missed a top-rope double stomp. Romero hit a spin kick and a mid-ring Sliced Bread #2 flipping faceplant. Richards applied an ankle lock again, then a brainbuster for a believable nearfall. They traded rollups, with Richards suddenly getting the three-count. Good, competitive match between two guys who really know each other well, and it showed. I wish the title hadn’t been on the line because I never would have expected it to change hands here. They teased fighting more, but instead they hugged.
* A video clip aired of Fred Rosser beating Tom Lawlor to win the New Japan Strong title, along with a video of Big Damo (f/k/a Killian Dain) wanting a title shot.
3. Fred Rosser defeated Big Damo to retain the New Japan Strong Openweight Championship at 12:56. If you haven’t seen him since he left WWE, he is now bald with a long beard, looking more like A-Train/Albert (Matt Bloom) than ever (including all that body hair.) Basic punches and brawling to start. Damo hit a nice slingshot senton at 2:00. They rolled to the floor, where Damo hit a bodyslam onto the thin black mat, and he was in charge. In the ring, Rosser went for a bodyslam but he couldn’t pick up his bigger opponent. Damo hit a flying crossbody block for a nearfall at 4:00.
The crowd was taunting Damo, and he began jawing back. Rosser wrapped the camera’s cable around Damo’s neck at 7:00. Rosser fired up with forearms and a series of clotheslines to the chest and back, but they were having little effect. Rosser finally dropped him with a shoulder tackle at 9:00. They traded mid-ring forearm shots. Rosser hit a roaring forearm that dropped Damo at 11:30. Damo nailed a pop-up powerbomb and an elbow drop, and he was fired up. Damo hit a running senton and he set up for a Vader Bomb, but Rosser got up before he could hit it. From the corner, Rosser put Damo on his shoulders and hit the Sidewinder, swinging him down on his back onto the mat for the pin. Good match.
4. Hiromu Takahashi defeated Blake Christian at 13:56. Christian’s forehead was bandaged, as he heavily bled a night earlier during a match against Jon Moxley. Hiromu had his “Daryl” stuffed cat in his arms, earning a ridiculous pop (several fans held up their “Daryl” stuffy, so they are printing money with these toys). They are saying height and weight in English, and Hiromu is listed as 5’7″. I didn’t realize he was that short. They traded quick offense at the bell. Blake hit a flipping dive to the floor, landing on his feet, at 2:00. Hiromu locked in a Tajiri-style Tarantula in the ropes. A close-up of Blake’s back shows the welt from a Singapore cane blow last night, too.
Hiromu hit a basement dropkick for a nearfall. Rehwoldt talked about how Blake is “showing up everywhere and anywhere” right now, turning heads wherever he goes. Blake nailed his handspring-back-enzuigiri at 5:30, then a half-nelson suplex, sending Hiromu to the floor. Blake hit the Fosbury Flop, caught Hiromu’s head, and nailed an inverted DDT onto the thin mat. Blake’s cut has re-opened and he is bleeding from under the bandage as they are back in the ring. Blake hit a double stomp to the chest.
They traded forearm shots at 9:00. Blake hit a springboard moonsault. Hiromu hit a clothesline but Blake popped up, hit his own clothesline, and they were both down at 11:00. The crowd was hot for this action, chanting “All Heart!” at Blake. Blake hit his rolling Death Valley Driver, then a 450 Splash for a believable nearfall. Hiromu hit a belly-to-belly overhead suplex, tossing Blake into the turnbuckles. Blake hit an enzuigiri, and got a great rollup for a believable nearfall. Hiromu hit a pop-up powerbomb, a faceplant, then a decapitating clothesline. Hiromu hit the Time Bomb #2 sideslam for the pin. Really, really good match.
** Tanga Loa joined the broadcast team, looking dapper in a suit. Riccaboni said “we hope you are recovering well.” I hadn’t heard he was injured but that makes sense, otherwise I presume he would be in the G1 Climax tournament along with Tama Tonga. Ian asked Tanga about Hikuleo still being with Bullet Club, and Tanga said he was disappointed because he should be with family.
5. TJP and “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher Mark Davis defeated Alex Zayne and “FTR” Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood at 14:26. There was a massive pop when the FTR music hit. Zayne and TJP started with good at reversals and a standoff. Zayne hit a corkscrew senton. Fletcher entered, but Zayne hit his flipping legdrop on the back of the neck. Dax entered to a massive pop, and he worked over Kyle, including a loud chop to the back. Dax has tape on his shoulder, and the announcers talked about the tear in his labrum. FTR hit a team clothesline on the bigger Davis. “If you haven’t seen Mark Davis in person, he is a hulking individual,” Riccaboni said.
Mark hit a decapitating clothesline on Cash, and suddenly everyone was brawling on the floor. Back in the ring, the Aussie Open team were working over Cash, with Mark hitting a big senton. Cash clocked TJP with a hard clothesline at 10:00. Dax made the hot tag and beat up the heels. The three faces hit simultaneous German suplexes. Cool spot. Dax hit a brainbuster for a nearfall on Kyle at 12:00. Zayne hit a top-rope Phoenix corkscrew press for a nearfall. The AO team hit their team slam move on Zayne for a believable nearfall. Zayne hit his forward roll-into-a-huracarana on both Aussie Open guys. However, the Aussie Open hit their Spin Cycle swinging slam on Zayne for the clean pin. Really good match.
* Kyle got on the mic and taunted FTR. “We are next in line,” Fletcher said. The mic cut out, so Dax shouted that he is willing to come to Japan to fight for the IWGP tag titles. Good post-match segment.
6. Alex Shelley vs. Kushida fought to a time-limit draw at 20:00. Just like Romero-Richards, we have a matchup of long-time tag partners, as they were the Time-Splitters in Japan (and in just one NXT televised match.) Kushida immediately went for a keylock, but Shelley escaped and bailed. Intense lockups and reversals with neither man getting the upper hand. They started shoving each other at 3:30 as they’ve lost their tempers, and it turned into trading overhand palm strikes to the chest. Kushida hit a handspring-back-elbow, and he grounded Shelley and worked over the left arm. Kushida applied a cross-armbreaker, but Shelley reached the ropes at 7:00 and continued to dominate the action.
Shelley hit a dragon screw leg whip at 9:30 then he went to work on Kushida’s left arm. This has been good, intense mat-based wrestling. Kushida hit a swinging neckbreaker at 12:30, and they were both down. Kushida hit a running crossbody block, and he went back to twisting the left arm. Kushida hit his straight punch to the jaw, then a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall at 15:00. Kushida hit a nice head-capture overhead suplex for a nearfall, but Shelley got his foot on the ropes before the three-count. Shelley hit another dragon screw leg whip.
Kushida hit a basement dropkick to the jaw. Shelley dropped Kushida face-first into the turnbuckles, and he hit an Air Raid Crash, then he applied the Border City Stretch on the mat at 18:00. At 19:00 even, we are told there is one minute remaining in the match. They traded putting on the Border City Stretch. They hit simultaneous clotheslines. Shelley hit his swinging faceplant. Kushida got in the Keylock and Shelley flailed his arms but held on until the bell sounded, signaling a time-limit draw. Really good match. With Shelley having an upcoming Impact title match, he wasn’t going to lose here, so this was a satisfying outcome (I did have it at 20 minutes even, too).
* A nice video package aired of Desperado and Jon Moxley taunting each other, with Desperado agreeing to fly to the U.S. to fight him. Really well done, with subtitles underneath when both were speaking.
7. Jon Moxley defeated El Desperado at 17:47. Barbed wire-covered boards are set up in opposite corners. Desperado came to the ring with a guitar. At the bell we basically have a test of strength, trying to push each other into the barbed wire. They traded forearm shots. Desperado hit a dragon screw leg whip at 3:30. Desperado pulled out some meat skewers and he jabbed them into Moxley’s forehead, and Moxley is bleeding at 5:00. (What was the over-under of when Moxley would start bleeding?) Desperado wiped Moxley’s blood on his own chest. Desperado brought Moxley over to the barbed wire and rubbed the wire against Moxley’s head.
Moxley tore at Desperado’s mask. Desperado went for a dive to the floor, but Moxley nailed him with the guitar to the face, with the instrument shattering at 8:00. earning a “holy shit!” chant. In the ring, Moxley jabbed a shard of the guitar into Desperado’s head. However, Desperado speared Moxley, sending him back first into the barbed wire board at 10:00. “Renee, turn the TV off,” Rehwoldt said. However, Moxley hit a shotgun dropkick, sending Desperado flying into the other barbed wire board. Moxley hit a jumping DDT for a believable nearfall at 11:30.
Moxley got a table from under the ring, while Desperado got some chairs. Desperado nailed a chairshot to the head. Moxley pushed Desperado off the top rope, and Desperado crashed through the table, set up at ringside, at 14:00. In the ring, Moxley hit a release suplex, dropping Desperado on a board covered in beer cans? Not sure what those are. Desperado applied the Stretch Muffler leg lock submission hold at 15:30. Desperado held both hands and stomped on Moxley’s chest. Desperado hit a frog splash for a nearfall.
They traded punches, and Desperado hit the Christopher Daniels’ Angel Wings faceplant. Moxley fired back with a clothesline and the Deathrider double-arm DDT. Moxley applied a headlock and cranked back on Desperado’s head. Desperado tried crawling to the ropes, gave two middle fingers to the crowd, and passed out. Really fun match, not as violent as it could have been, but I never once considered the possibility that Desperado could win here.
* Moxley got on the mic and said “Professional wrestling in the year of our Lord 2022 is alive and well.” The mic kept cutting out.
Final Thoughts: Wow, this was a really good show. Blake Christian continues his tour as best wrestler today not signed to a major deal. He had an excellent match here, maybe 12 or so hours after his brawl with Moxley. I love Takahashi too, and I’ll give that the best match, with main event second place, and the Shelley-Kushida mat-based match getting third-best. The six-man tag was really good and earned honorable mention, and I love the thought of FTR mixing it up with the best in New Japan.
This building was a home run. It was large enough for a good-sized crowd, with great lighting and a high ceiling. The show clocked in at just under three hours.