By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Burning Spirit Tour”
September 23, 2022 in Kogawa, Japan at Takamatsu City General Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
This venue is a large gym, and the main floor appears full, but the seating off the floor is largely empty, and this has to be a disappointing attendance.
This is the first televised event in more than a week. A couple of shows were canceled because of a typhoon that hit Japan as well, so hopefully we have a well-rested crew. Several of the top-name talent are back in Japan for this show, including Jay White, Will Ospreay, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows. There was Japanese commentary for this event.
1. Kosei Fujita defeated Ryohei Oiwa at 4:42. Yet another clash between these two Young Lions, and they always keep their offense fairly simplistic when fighting each other. Fujita locked in a Boston Crab, leaned back deeply, and after several seconds of trying to reach the ropes, Oiwa tapped out. Short and painless.
2. Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, and Hikuleo defeated Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, and Gideon Grey at 8:13. I said this in my last review, but Gideon brings nothing to the United Empire, and he really takes away from their cool factor. Cobb and Owens started, with Owens stalling in the ropes. Cobb dropped him with one punch, then he “surfed” on Owens’ back, then he did an impressive delayed vertical suplex. Gideon tagged in at 2:30, but Owens quickly tied him in knots, and the Bullet Club began working over Gideon.
O-Khan entered at 4:30 and hit his Mongolian Chops on Fale, and they traded good offense. Gideon makes the hot tag, but regrets it as soon as Hikuleo entered to face him. All three United Empire guys worked over Hikuleo. However, Hikuleo hit a powerslam and a chokeslam to pin Gideon. A bit underwhelming considering how many talented wrestlers were in this match.
3. Kenta and El Phantasmo defeated Bushi and Shingo Takagi at 8:58. Shingo and ELP have been feuding since the end of the G1 Climax, and they attacked each other to start the match. Shingo clotheslined ELP to the floor. The Bullet Club began working over Bushi. ELP hit a head-scissors takedown at 4:30. Shingo got back in and hit running clotheslines in the corner on each heel. ELP got a jackknife rollup on Shingo for a nearfall, then he hit an enzuigiri.
Bushi and Kenta tagged back in at 6:30 and traded offense. Bushi hit a missile dropkick, then a dive between the ropes to the floor. In the ring, Kenta applied an STF on Bushi, while holding his book in his hand, until Bushi tapped out. Solid match, but shorter than I hoped for.
4. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Taka Michinoku, Zack Sabre Jr., and Taichi at 9:13. Again, Naito and Sabre have been feuding, as Sabre is angry and embarrassed about a quick pinfall near the end of the G1 Climax tournament, causing him to lose the Block. Sanada and Taichi opened, and they have been feuding, too. We have comedy to open as Sanada, Hiromu and Taichi competed in push-ups. Sanada and Naito teamed to work over Taichi early on. Naito and Sabre tied up at 4:30, with Sabre quickly focusing on the left wrist. Taka tagged in and tied Hiromu up on the mat, and he got some rollups for nearfalls. However, Hiromu hooked an arm, rolled Taka over, and scored an inside cradle for the pin.
5. Jonah, Bad Dude Tito, and Shane Haste defeated Kazuchika Okada, Togi Makabe, and Tomoaki Honma at 8:23. To reiterate the main New Japan storyline, Okada won the G1 Climax tournament, but his only loss was to Jonah; Jonah wasn’t pinned in the tournament, as he lost twice via count-out. Honma and Haste started. Tito and Makabe squared off. Okada entered at 4:30 and battled Haste. Jonah entered and hit a running Stinger Splash on Okada for a nearfall.
Honma and Makabe worked together to suplex Jonah. The heels took turns beating on Honma in the corner. Jonah then hit his Torpedo frogsplash to flatten and pin Honma. Okada and Jonah continued to jaw after the match, and I’ve enjoyed the slow burn between them leading to their eventual one-on-one rematch.
6. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, Jado, and Tama Tonga defeated Jay White, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, and Taiji Ishimori at 10:17. All eight brawled at the bell. Taiji really had to jump to give Gallows the Too Sweet hand gesture. Funny. Yano ran from Gallows; they also have been feuding. Jado was unsuccessful in trying to pick up Gallows for a bodyslam, and Gallows immediately began working over Jado. Each of the Bullet Club members took turns beating down Jado. Tama got in and hit a Bulldog Powerslam on White at 6:30. However, White avoided a Stun Gun and instead hit a DDT, then a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall.
Tama hit a Cody-style swinging faceplant, and they both tagged out. Hiroshi and Karl Anderson began brawling at 8:00, and Hiroshi hit a second-rope summersault senton for a nearfall. Anderson fired back with a spinebuster. The heels each hit a move on Hiroshi, with Anderson & Gallows hitting the Magic Killer for a nearfall. They went for a second Magic Killer, but Yano (while standing on the floor), yanked on Anderson’s foot, freeing Hiroshi. Hiroshi then got a quick rollup on Gallows for the pin, as Yano scampered to the back to avoid a post-match beat-down. White and Tama Tonga continued to glare at each other after the bell. The three remaining babyfaces posed together in the ring.
7. EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, and Sho (w/Dick Togo) defeated Yoh, Yoshi-Hoshi, and Hirooki Goto to win the Never Openweight Six-Man titles at 18:32. Everyone brawled at the bell, and it went to the floor. The House of Torture were able to lock Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi in a dog kennel on the floor. (Why is there a dog kennel there?) This allowed the heels to begin working over the defenseless Yoh in the ring. Yoh finally hit a swinging neckbreaker on Sho at 5:30, then a flip dive to the floor on him.
Yoh got the key and unlocked the kennel to free his teammates, then he locked Sho in the cage. Yoh then got locked in a cage by Yujiro. In the ring, Goto hit his neckbreaker over his knee on Yujiro at 11:00. EVIL threw Yoshi-Hoshi in a kennel and locked it. However, Goto freed Yoh from a different kennel. (Yes, this is as bad as it sounds.) In the ring, Yoh accidentally superkicked Goto. The ref got bumped, and EVIL hit a low blow uppercut on Yoh. Sho was freed from a kennel.
A kennel was put in the ring; these are perhaps 30 inches tall. On the floor, EVIL locked three people, including his teammates, in a kennel at 15:00. So, it is just EVIL vs. Yoh, and EVIL hit a sky-high powerbomb for a nearfall. Yoh hit a decapitating clothesline for a nearfall. Togo got involved in the match, so Yoh beat him up and locked him in the kennel in the ring. Yoh hit a low blow and got a rollup for a nearfall on EVIL, then a superkick, but a butterfly DDT was blocked. However, EVIL hit the Everything is EVIL/Rock Bottom on Yoh to score the pin. New champs!
8. David Finlay, Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi, and The DKC defeated “The United Empire” Will Ospreay, Aaron Henare, TJP, and Francesco Akira in an elimination match at 19:51. Ospreay and Finlay opened, but Ospreay immediately tagged out. Taguchi and TJP tied up each other on the mat. The UE team began working over DKC. Finlay made the hot tag and hit a Blue Thunder bomb on Ospreay at 7:00.
Wrestlers are suddenly being tossed over the top rope to the floor, with the bell ringing as they hit the ground, and I only now realize this is an elimination match. (Hey, it’s Japanese commentary!) DKC hit his karate thrust chops to Henare’s throat. Henare hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on DKC for a nearfall at 14:00. Henare hit a senton to pin DKC at 14:22, and we are down to just David Finlay vs. Henare and Ospreay. Both UE guys attack Finlay together. Finlay hit a second-rope flying forearm on Ospreay for a nearfall.
Ospreay fired back with a handspring-back-spin kick, then a top-rope flying forearm for a nearfall at 16:30. Finlay hit a backbreaker over his knee on Ospreay and flipped him over the top rope, but Ospreay held on, and ‘skinned the cat’ to get back in the ring. As Ospreay went for an Oscutter, Finlay pushed Henare into Ospreay, causing Will to fall to the floor and be eliminated. Henare hit a running tackle on Finlay for a believable nearfall at 19:30. However, Finlay hit a suplex move on Henare to get the pin and the win. He and Ospreay glared at each other after the match.
Final Thoughts: A deeply underwhelming show with a lackluster title switch in the six-man tag title match. The dog kennel stuff is bad and just dumb. I liked EVIL when he was in LIJ, and I think it really hid his deficiencies. I am just not a fan of the House of Torture at all, and nothing about this match clicked for me.
So, I’ll give best match to the Naito/Sanada/Hiromu six-man tag, then the main event for second-best, followed by the Jay White-led eight-man tag. Nearly every match here felt too short or not up to what we’ve come to expect from New Japan.
On the bright side, New Japan continues to make me excited to see future singles matches of Jonah-Okada, Sabre-Naito. Finlay-Ospreay and even Taichi-Sanada. While I never look forward to a Yano match, it will be intriguing to see what happens when Doc Gallows finally gets his hands on him.
The show clocked in at about 3 hours.