By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Burning Spirit Tour”
September 5, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
Just like two days ago, we had Japanese only commentary. The fans were spread out, but for the first time in perhaps two years, they were allowed to chant/cheer/boo (they all are still wearing masks.) Hiromu Takahashi came to the ring and spoke in Japanese, firing up the crowd. The crowd is definitely eager to be vocal! There is energy in the building that has just been missing.
1. Minoru Suzuki defeated Bad Dude Tito at 8:42. This is Minoru’s first singles match in New Japan in ages; he skipped the G1 Climax tournament this year. Mat reversals to open. Minoru applied a Tajiri-style Tarantula in the ropes at 4:00, and they brawled to the floor. In the ring, Tito hit a series of forearms and a shoulder tackle, and a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall at 7:00. They began trading forearm shots, and this isn’t going to end well for Tito. Tito hit a Doctor Bomb for a believable nearfall. Suzuki got up, hit some forearm shots, then the Gotch-style piledriver for the pin. That was fun.
2. Yoshi-Hoshi, Yoh, Hirooki Goto, and Toru Yano defeated EVIL, Sho, Dick Togo, and Yujiro Takahashi at 9:16. The babyfaces are once again wearing their t-shirts saying they are anti-House of Torture. All eight brawled to the floor at the bell. Sho threw his former teammate Yoh into the guardrail, and the heels worked over Yoh. Yano finally tagged in at 7:30 and squared off with Togo. Yano rolled up Togo for the win. Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi never officially entered the match. The heels beat down all the babyfaces after the bell.
3. Hikuleo, Chase Owens, and Bad Luck Fale defeated Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, and Gideon Grey at 9:57. The Bullet Club immediately flipped Cobb and GOK to the floor so they were alone with Grey, who is an older man and a manager. I really don’t see why United Empire needs him. Cobb hit a belly-to-belly overhead release suplex on Owens a 2:00. The heels worked over Cobb. O-Khan made the hot tag at 6:30 and hit his Mongolian Chops on everyone. Hikuleo and GOK exchanged mid-ring forearm shots, and this wad a good exchange. However, Gideon tagged himself in at 9:30 and charged at Hikuleo. However, Hikuleo hit a swinging powerslam and a chokeslam to pin Gideon. Decent match, with the Hikuleo-Khan exchange a clear highlight.
4. TJP, Aaron Henare, and Francesco Akira defeated Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi, and The DKC at 10:58. Akira and Wato opened. Taguchi hit his butt attacks on TJP. TJP and Akira did some team moves on Taguchi and were in charge, with Akira hitting a missile dropkick for a nearfall at 4:00. TJP hit a running Facewash kick in the corner. Taguchi hit a flying butt attack on Akira and made the hot tag to Wato. DKC entered at 8:30 and brawled with Henare. Henare caught him with a knee strike in the corner. Henare hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall, then he hit a spear on DKC for the pin. Decent action.
5. Kushida and Jado defeated Taiji Ishimori and Gedo at 10:11. Kushida and Ishimori have a good mat exchange to open, then Jado and Gedo brawled. Ishimori choked Jado with his t-shirt. Kushida finally made the hot tag and traded more mat reversals with Ishimori. Ishimori hit his Lungblower to the chest at 9:00. Kushida hit a handspring-back-elbow on Gedo. Kushida finally hit a hammerlock suplex to pin Gedo. Only good when both Kushida and Ishimori were in the ring together.
6. El Phantasmo and Kenta defeated Shingo Takagi and Bushi at 12:02. The main storyline here is that ELP pinned Shingo cleanly in the G1 Climax tournament, but he hit a low blow to pin him the next day. Phantasmo wore a shirt that reads “ELP is my daddy” to taunt Shingo. They opened against each other with neither man getting the upper hand. The Bullet Club worked over Bushi. Shingo finally entered and traded forearm shots with ELP. Shingo hit a Death Valley Driver at 8:30, and they were both down.
Bushi hit a Lungblower to ELP’s back. Shingo nailed a clothesline on Phantasmo, and this is really good stuff. ELP caught him with a superkick. Kenta hit a top-rope clothesline on Bushi, and Phantasmo hit his modified Styles Clash on Bushi for the pin. Easily best match of the night so far.
7. Sanada, Tetsuya Naito, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, and Desperado at 11:40. Again, the main storyline here is Sabre is angry (and embarrassed) after losing so quickly to Naito in the final night of the tournament to be eliminated. Zach refused to get in the ring to start, so Taichi started vs. Naito. Hiromu hit a shotgun dropkick on Desperado. Naito and Sabre both tagged in at 5:00 and immediately traded stiff blows. Sabre tied him up in a pretzel on the mat, and they traded quick rollups.
Sanada tagged in at 8:00 and squared off with Sabre. Taichi entered and traded forearms and kicks with Sanada, and this is a really good exchange, too. Sanada missed a moonsault. Suddenly everyone was hitting their finishers on everyone else. Taichi went to rip off his pants, but Sanada snuck up behind him, rolled him up, and scored the pin. Really strong action all around here.
8. Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Jonah and Shane Haste at 15:46. Okada and Jonah open with an intense lockup. Jonah dropped him with a shoulder tackle. Tanahashi tagged in at 2:00 to face Haste. Tanahashi hit a second-rope crossbody block. Jonah attacked Tanahashi on the floor, and the heels began working over Hiroshi in the ring. Jonah picked up Haste and bodyslammed his partner on Hiroshi at 6:00. Jonah jumped in the air and crashed his butt down on Hiroshi’s chest. Okada finally made the hot tag at 8:30 and hit a DDT on Jonah.
Okada couldn’t hit a bodyslam. He tried again, but they did the Hogan-Andre spot with Jonah falling on him for a nearfall at 10:00. Jonah hit a rolling mid-ring splash on a seated Okada for a nearfall. Okada applied the Money Clip sleeperhold. Jonah came back with his mid-ring running body block. Haste entered and hit a rolling cannonball in the corner on Okada for a nearfall. This has been really good. Okada hit a dropkick, and they were both down. Tanahashi entered and bodyslammed Haste, then hit his second-rope summersault press for a nearfall at 13:00.
Jonah nailed his running Stinger Splash in the corner on Hiroshi. Haste jumped on Jonah’s back, and with their combined weight, they hit a splash on Hiroshi. Haste accidentally kicked Jonah in the head. Hiroshi and Okada worked together to suplex Jonah. Tanahashi hit a twisting neckbreaker on Haste, a Sling Blade for a nearfall at 15:00, and a top-rope crossbody block. Tanahashi then hit the High Fly Flow frogsplash on Haste for the pin. That was a really really entertaining tag match. The babyfaces spoke on the mic to conclude this show.
Final Thoughts: This show was quite a step up from the prior event two days earlier; adding Shingo Takagi, El Phantasmo, and Minoru Suzuki brought star power and some better action. The crowd getting to be vocal really brought energy to the fans, which in turn brought energy to the wrestlers.
The main event was nearly identical players to two days earlier, but removing the comedy of Toru Yano made this so much better. Sure, I felt it was obvious Haste was going to eat the pin, but they all had a good match, and Okada and Jonah continue to have great chemistry.
I am really enjoying this story they are telling of Zack having a chip on his shoulder. He’s been so good in tournaments the last few years, and he is just embarassed at that quick loss to Naito, and wants revenge. This show lasted nearly three hours.