9/25 NJPW Burning Spirit tour results: Vetter’s review of Will Ospreay vs. David Finlay for the IWGP U.S. Championship, Karl Anderson vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the Never Openweight Championship, TJP and Francesco Akira vs. Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Titles

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Burning Spirit Tour”
September 25, 2022 in Kobe, Japan at Kobe World Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World

We had English commentary! Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton were remote, and Kelly sounds stuffy — unclear if he’s sick or just a poor connection. They told us we had a packed crowd, but they are not allowed to make noise with their mouths in this venue due to COVID restrictions. Also, Charlton said the lineups for the “Royal Quest” shows in England will be revealed on Monday.

The headline match on this show is Will Ospreay vs. David Finlay. Ospreay won his Block in the month-long G1 Climax tournament, but Finlay scored a pin over Ospreay during the tournament, leading to this rematch. On paper, this is a far stronger show than the recent events on the tour, with more star power in the lineup, and fewer of the “enhancement talent” like Gideon Grey, Gedo, Dick Togo, or Taka Michinoku, or the Young Lions, who seem to be there just to eat pins.

1. Bushi, Shingo Takagi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Hikuleo, Kenta, and El Phantasmo at 8:48. Bushi wore an incredible new mask that looks like Alien (the Ridley Scott movie). The heels jumped LIJ to start, and Shingo battled ELP early. Hikuleo overpowered Hiromu. Kenta and Hiromu traded offense while Kenta held his book. Shingo and ELP tagged back in at 5:00, and the commentators agreed that Shingo has really struggled to beat Phantasmo.

Hikuleo accidentally hit a shoulder tackle on ELP. Shingo hit a senton on Phantasmo, then a Death Valley Driver at 7:00. Bushi dove through the ropes and barreled into Hikuleo. ELP and Shingo traded rollups. Shingo hit a low blow, hooked the leg, and got a pin. Shingo spanked ELP a couple times after the match, too. Shingo and ELP shouted at each other “I’m Daddy!”

* The commentators acknowledged that Kushida is off the card as he is suffering from an illness.

2. Luke Gallows vs. Toru Yano ended in a double count-out at 3:48. Yano came out second and walked hesitantly down the ramp.  Gallows attacked him as he entered the ring. Gallows hit a corner without a pad, allowing Yano to get a rollup for a nearfall. They brawled at ringside, with Yano crashing into a guardrail. They brawled up the ramp, away from the ring. Yano tried to use duct tape on Gallows’ legs, but Luke blocked it. They kept brawling and never attempted to return to the ring as they were counted out. Blah.

3. Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan defeated Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale at 8:22. The commentators agreed this is essentially a number one contender’s match. All four brawled at the bell. GOK hit a shoulder tackle on Chase. Cobb surfed on Chase’s back at 3:00. Fale hit a shoulder tackle on Cobb. Cobb hit a belly-to-belly overhead release suplex on Owens at 4:30. Fale accidentally squished Owens in the corner. Cobb hit an impressive bodyslam on Fale at 7:00. Chase hit the Jewel Heist short-arm clothesline on O-Khan for a nearfall, but he couldn’t get the package piledriver. Cobb and O-Khan hit a team stunner move to pin Chase. Good match.

4. Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi defeated Tetsuya Naito and Sanada at 9:32. Again, Sabre has been livid and embarassed after losing quickly to Naito at the conclusion of the G1 Climax, which has led to this feud. Sanada and Taichi started, with Taichi applying a Boston Crab. Sabre tagged in at 4:00 and worked over Naito’s left arm, as Charlton talked about that quick loss. They traded rollups. Sanada entered and hit dropkicks on both heels, then a plancha to the floor on Taichi at 6:30. Sanada applied Skull End on Taichi, but Sabre made the save. Taichi and Sanada traded rollups when Taichi got a Gedo Clutch jackknife cover for the clean pin.

* Taichi and Sanada traded masks, and the announcers said it was a peace offering. They put on each other’s masks, but traded back. This was a clear sign of respect between them. Meanwhile, Sabre and Naito continued to jaw at each other after the match.

5. Jonah, Bad Dude Tito, and Shane Haste defeated Kazuchika Okada, Tomoaki Honma, and Togi Makabe at 13:03. Okada and Jonah started with an intense lockup.  Honma and Tito entered at 2:00 and they traded forearm shots. Haste and Makabe brawled. (Side note: Haste has been clean-shaven on this tour, but he had facial hair on last night’s Strong taping.) The heels began working over Makabe. Jonah hit a Whoopee Cushion buttdrop for a nearfall at 6:30.

Haste unloaded some stiff Yes Kicks to Togi’s chest and back. Tito hit a nice Exploder Suplex for a nearfall. Togi finally hit a powerslam and made the hot tag to Okada at 8:30. Okada hit a DDT on Jonah and was fired up, but he couldn’t bodyslam him. So instead, Okada applied the Money Clip sleeperhold. Okada went for another bodyslam, but they did the Hogan-Andre spot with Jonah crashing down on Okada. Okada nailed a running buttsplash in the corner on Okada and got a nearfall at 10:00.

Okada fired back with a dropkick, and they were both down. Honma tagged in and hit some chops that had little effect. Honma hit a DDT. Okada jumped in and finally hit a bodyslam on Jonah, and Honma hit his Kokeshi falling headbutt. Honma and Togi accidentally collided. Honma’s clothesline on Jonah had no impact. Jonah took Honma’s head off with a clothesline, then he nailed the Torpedo frogsplash on Honma for the clean pin. That was entertaining, and Jonah-Okada continue to have great exchanges. Charlton said their singles re-match will be Oct. 10.

6. Jay White and Taiji Ishimori (w/Gedo) defeated Tama Tonga and Jado at 10:51. Jado replaced Kushida in this match. All four brawled at the bell. White whipped Tama into the guardrails. In the ring, the Bullet Club worked over Jado. Ishimori hit a Lungblower move on Jado’s left arm at 4:30. Tama made the hot tag and he brawled with White. Tama hit a dropkick and a Bulldog Powerslam, but couldn’t hit the Gun Stun.  Tama hit a Samoan Drop on Ishimori and a running neckbreaker. Jado hit a DDT om Ishimori, then a back suplex for a nearfall. Ishimori applied an STF, and Jado tapped out. OK match; far below what it would have been if Kushida was in it.

7. “The United Empire” Francesco Akira and TJP defeated Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles at 12:43. TJP and Wato locked up first. Taguchi rubbed his butt in TJP’s head in the corner at 3:00. TJP and Akira hit simultaneous moonsaults to the floor. In the ring, Wato hit a dropkick on TJP’s injured left leg at 6:30, then a springboard flying forearm for a nearfall. Wato hit a high German suplex with a bridge for a nearfall on Akira. Kelly talked about how TJP is nursing a leg injury that is slowing him down.

Akira hit a nice Frankensteiner out of the corner at 9:00 and the UE began working over Wato. Wato hit a second-rope superplex on Akira. Taguchi applied an anklelock on Akira, who screamed in pain. TJP hit a DDT on Wato at 12:00, and Wato rolled to the floor. Akira then nailed a Doomsday stunner on Taguchi for the pin. Decent match, and the right team won.

8. Karl Anderson (w/Doc Gallows) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the NEVER Openweight Title at 13:36. Standing switches to start. Tanahashi hit a second-rope crossbody block at 3:30. Gallows distracted Tanahashi, allowing Karl to hit a stunner move across the top rope. Gallows chokeslammed Tanahashi onto the ring apron while the referee was distracted. That allowed Karl to ground Tanahashi and take control of the match. They traded forearm shots at 7:00.

Hiroshi hit a second-rope summersault senton for a nearfall. Tanahashi hit a dragon screw leg whip on Luke Gallows, which allowed Karl to hit a spinebuster and a TKO stunner on Tanahashi for a believable nearfall. Tanahashi blocked a Gun Stun, and he twisted on Karl’s leg. Hiroshi applied a Texas Cloverleaf; Gallows distracted the ref so the ref missed Anderson tapping out. Yano returned to ringside to brawl with Gallows.

Tanahashi hit a sling blade at 11:00, then a top-rope crossbody block. Gallows went to interfere again, but Yano tackled him. Tanahashi went for the High Fly Flow frogsplash, but Karl got his knees up, rolled him over, and got a believable nearfall. They traded a few more reversals, then Karl hit the Gun Stun stunner for the pin.

* Jay White strolled to the ring as soon as the match ended. White, Gallows and Anderson beat on Hiroshi and the Young Lions who tried to help. Tama Tonga ran into the ring to help. Hikuleo walked slowly to the ring. Jay White shouted, “I’m his family now!” However, Hikuleo grabbed Jay White by his throat, then shoved White toward Tama Tonga, who hit the Gun Stun. Hikuleo and Tama Tonga hugged, and the crowd applauded. Really entertaining angle.

9. Will Ospreay (w/Gideon Grey, Jeff Cobb) defeated David Finlay to retain the IWGP U.S. Title at 28:20. They charged at each other at the bell and traded forearm shots, and Finlay clotheslined him to the floor, then hit a plancha. Ospreay whipped a table at Finlay’s face at 2:00, and they continued to brawl on the floor. Back in the ring, Ospreay was in charge of the offense, and he tied up Finlay on the mat. Finlay hit a snap suplex for a nearfall at 7:30.

Ospreay hit a handspring-back-spin kick, and he hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Finlay hit a diving European Uppercut at 10:00, then a Blue Thunder Driver for a nearfall, and the crowd was hot. He tried to hit a superplex, but Ospreay blocked it. Ospreay powerbombed Finlay onto the ring apron at 12:30, then Ospreay nailed a top-rope corkscrew press to the floor. Wow! They brawled over by a table, and Finlay grabbed the timekeeper’s hammer and slammed it on Ospreay’s hand at 14:00. Ospreay shrieked in pain, but Finlay grabbed him and worked over the hand against the guardrail.

In the ring, Finlay hit some stomps on the damaged hand. He applied a Fujiwara Armbar while twisting Ospreay’s fingers. Ospreay hit an enzuigiri at 16:30. He called for Gideon Grey and Jeff Cobb, who wrapped his fingers in tape. Finlay grabbed him and hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Finlay nailed a half-nelson suplex on the ring apron at 19:00. Finlay hit a stunner from the corner onto two side-by-side tables set up at ringside, but these thick Japanese tables don’t break, and both men bounced off and crashed to the floor. Ouch. Finlay picked up Ospreay and powerbombed through the tables, and this time they broke. Finlay rolled into the ring and seemed content to get a count out victory.

Ospreay dove back into the ring at the 19-count, but Finlay caught him with a spear, then a twisting stunner out of the corner for a believable nearfall at 21:30. They began trading stiff forearm shots, with Finlay winning the series. Ospreay hit a spin kick to the head, but Finlay blocked the Oscutter. Finlay hit a swinging faceplant. Ospreay fired  back with a mid-ring Spanish Fly. Finlay hit the Trash Panda/neckbreaker over his knee for a “pin” at 24:38, but the ref immediately saw Ospreay had a foot on the ropes, and he quickly ordered it to continue. Ospreay hit a Hidden Blade, and they were both down.

They traded headbutts while on their knees, then forearm shots. Finlay avoided a second Hidden Blade, and he hit a mid-ring huracanrana. Ospreay went for the Oscutter again, but Finlay hit a stunner. Ospreay nailed a top-rope Oscutter at 27:30. He hit a Pedigree, then a Hidden Blade forearm to the jaw for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it. Ospreay then nailed Stormbreaker/spinning faceplant off his shoulders for the clean pin. Wow, what a match. Wow. “After nearly dying from a kidney infection, Will Ospreay doesn’t fear death anymore,” Kelly shouted. “That was as good as it gets!”

* The rest of the United Empire hit the ring to celebrate, and I presumed the show was over. However, Naito walked down the ramp, the music stopped, and the crowd went quiet. Naito said “congratulations” in English and added “One more time.” He asked “yes or no?” Before Ospreay could respond, Zack Sabre Jr. walked to the ring, and he got in the ring too. Sabre said he should be the next challenger for the title because he beat Ospreay in the New Japan Cup. Ospreay challenged Naito to a number one contender’s match in London. Naito left the ring without giving an answer, which just angered Sabre even more. Ospreay got on the mic and said it doesn’t matter if it’s Sabre or Naito, because “Ospreay is the best champion.” O-Khan spoke in Japanese, proclaiming the United Empire is the best.

Final Thoughts: The main event was every bit as good as you’d expect. It was fantastic. I fully expected Ospreay to win to retain the title, and get revenge for his G1 Climax loss, but Finlay brought a heckuva fight to Ospreay here. The post-match segment was well done.

The rest of the show was solid, and certainly much better than the show a day ago. The biggest downside of the show is that a Yano-Gallows draw means this feud will continue. This was a longer-than-average show, clocking in at three-and-a-half hours.

SPECIAL EPISODE

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