By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Declaration of Power”
October 10, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Sumo Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton, Rocky Romero provided live commentary from ringside; their voices were definitely muffled by their masks. It looked like a good-sized crowd was in attendance.
The top three shows of this event are rematches of top matches from the G1 Climax tournament, where Jonah beat Kazuchika Okada, El Phantasmo beat Shingo Takagi and Tama Tonga defeated Jay White. I fully expect the three who lost last time will win their rematches. The other top match has been canceled, as Kushida is still recovering from hand, foot, mouth disease and cannot compete.
* The show opened with a tribute to Antonio Inoki. Kelly said without Inoki, there is no New Japan Pro Wrestling. The locker room emptied and wrestlers stood around the ring on the floor. A video highlight package played, with soft, somber music playing in the background. This is all tremendously well done. Great to have Charlton here to provide immediate translation of a speech about Inoki’s life and career.
1. Ren Narita, David Finlay, and Robbie Eagles defeated El Desperdo, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Douki at 7:28. Charlton made a big deal about Narita returning from excursion. Narita is still wearing the basic black trunks, though. He started with a chop exchange with Desperado. Narita hit a Northern Lights suplex with a bridge for a nearfall on Douki. However Narita hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex with a bridge to pin Douki. Good opener.
2. Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi defeated Shane Haste and Bad Dude Tito at 9:57. Kelly wondered if this match is a preview for World Tag League. Tito and Taichi started with shoulder tackles. Sabre tied up Haste on the mat. Tito hit a nice roaring forearm and enzuigiri combo on Sabre for a nearfall. He hit a buckle bomb on Sabre. Sabre rolled Tito up, leaned back for leverage, and got the pin out of nowhere. I enjoyed this match.
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hikuleo, and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated EVIL, Sho, and Yujiro Takahashi (w/Dick Togo) at 7:21. All six brawled at the bell. Hikuleo hit a double clothesline. The heels worked over Tanahashi. Taguchi made the hot tag at 5:00 and hit his running buttbumps. Taguchi hit a punch that may have been a low blow on EVIL. Sho hit a piledriver on Taguchi for a nearfall. While Togo distracted the ref, Sho hit Taguchi in the head with his wrench. However, Hikuleo hit a massive chokeslam on Sho, then he pulled Taguchi’s lifeless body onto Sho, with Taguchi getting the pin.
4. Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb (w/Gideon Grey) defeated Yoshi-Hoshi and Hirooki Goto at 10:23. All four brawled at the bell. Cobb overpowered Yoshi-Hoshi in the ring and surfed on his back. GOK jabbed his staff into Yoshi-Hoshi’s neck. Goto hit his neckbreaker over his knee on Cobb at 7:30. Yoshi-Hoshi did a modified dragon screw leg whip on Cobb and cranked on the damaged knee. However, Cobb hit his Tour of the Islands swinging powerbomb on Yoshi-Hoshi for the pin. Just so-so action.
5. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Will Ospreay, Aaron Henare, TJP, and Francesco Akira at 7:43. Naito and Ospreay jawed at each other before the bell, and they started with quick reversals. Henare and Sanada squared off. TJP entered and tied up Bushi’s legs at 4:00. Naito avoided an Ospreay Hidden Blade, and he hit a spinebuster on Ospreay. The ref got bumped. At 7:00, a masked man got in the ring and hit kicks on all the members of the United Empire. Bushi hit his second-rope lungblower to pin Akira. The mask looks like a snake’s head; the guy teased removing the mask, but he didn’t. Naito and Ospreay brawled more after the match.
* After the United Empire left, the masked man removed his mask to reveal he is Titan (who also wears a mask.) He declared he was the newest member of LIJ. He joined them in the ring doing their fist bump spot.
6. Master Wato defeated Taiji Ishimori at 14:40. Again, Wato is replacing the ill Kushida. This is not a title match, which (if this was WWE), would guarantee Wato would win here. They brawled to the floor early on, and Ishimori dropped him throat-first on the guardrail. Wato got back in the ring to avoid the count-out but he was struggling, and Ishimori took control. Wato finally hit a bulldog, then a flip dive to the floor at 7:00. Wato went for a top-rope move, but Ishimori caught him and turned it into an STF on the mat.
Wato tied up Ishimori on the mat. He hooked both arms and got a believable nearfall at 12:00, but he missed a top-rope corkscrew press. Ishimori hit a shotgun dropkick into the corner. Ishimori hit a shoulder breaker over his knee and they were both down. Ishimori again applied the STF. Wato again hooked the arms and slammed him to the mat to score the pin. The announcers celebrated the upset victory; yep, they did the WWE trope of a champion losing a non-title match.
* Master Wato grabbed the mic, but before he could speak, Hiromu Takahashi ran in and took it. El Desperado ran in and took the mic from Hiromu. Desperado taunted Ishimori, who was already heading to the back with his belt. So, Ishimori returned to the ring and challenged to make this a four-way match.
* A video package aired showing the feud between Shingo Takagi and El Phantasmo. Again, ELP scored a clean pin on the final night of the G1 Climax to eliminate Shingo. However, the next night, ELP hit a low blow to score a tainted win, and he began taunting Shingo for weeks that he was “Shingo’s daddy.”
7. Shingo Takagi defeated El Phantasmo in a “Who’s Your Daddy” match to retain the King of Pro Wrestling trophy at 16:06. They traded forearm shots to open, and Shingo dropped him with a shoulder tackle. ELP dove through the ropes on him at 2:30 and tried to get him to say “you’re my daddy” on the mic. In the ring, Shingo hit a Death Valley Driver, and they were both down. Shingo hit a senton for a nearfall. They traded punches, and Shingo hit a DDT at 8:30.
ELP fired back with a superkick and they were both down. They hit simultaneous clotheslines. They fought on the top rope, where ELP hit an incredible huracanrana, then a top-rope frogsplash for a nearfall at 11:30. Phantasmo hit his CR2 modified Styles Clash for a believable nearfall. Shingo nailed the Made In Japan pump-handle powerbomb for a believable nearfall, and they were both down at 13:30.
They got up and traded more stiff forearm shots. Shingo hit a superkick, and he picked him up for what looked like a Styles Clash, but he turned it into a piledriver for a believable nearfall. Shingo tied him up in a pretzel on the mat, and ELP tapped out. That was a really good match. Charlton made a comment that the KOPW was supposed to be a comedy trophy, but this match was all serious. Really good stuff.
* Shingo got on the mic and demanded that El Phantasmo say “he’s my daddy.” Shingo forced him to put on a shirt that read “Shingo’s Daddy” and he gave ELP a pacifier, which ELP did put in his mouth. However, ELP hit a low blow and destroyed the KOPW trophy. I won’t mind one bit if this is the last we see of this trophy.
* As we enter the next match, I will reiterate that Jonah has never been pinned in New Japan. He went 5-2 in the G1 Climax tournament, including his victory over Okada, with his two losses coming via count-out.
8. Kazuchika Okada defeated Jonah at 19:53. Kelly asked Romero where he was when Jonah “shocked the world” and pinned Okada during the G1 Climax tournament. These two have locked up at shows for the past three weeks and they really mesh well. Okada went for a bodyslam early and couldn’t budge him. Okada nailed a plancha to the floor at 1:30. Jonah whipped him into the guardrail. Jonah hit a running splash off the apron onto Okada on the floor. Jonah picked him up as if going for a Razor’s Edge, but he slammed Okada’s head and back into the ring post, and Okada was down on the floor at 4:00, barely getting into the ring before being counted out.
Jonah was dominating in the ring, hitting a headbutt and chops. Jonah hit a chop at 7:30 that dropped Okada and sweat flew off his chest. Okada applied a belly-to-back bearhug on the mat. Okada fired back with a basement dropkick, and he began working over Jonah’s legs. They went to the floor, where Okada hit a shotgun dropkick on the knee at 10:30. In the ring, Jonah hit a pair of his running Stinger Splashes, then a butt splash. Jonah came off the ropes, but Okada caught him with a dropkick. Okada applied a Money Clip sleeperhold on the mat at 14:30, but Jonah reached the ropes.
Okada hit a bodyslam to a huge pop. He nailed a top-rope elbow drop and set up for the Rainmaker. However, Jonah avoided it and nailed a German Suplex at 16:00. Jonah nailed a decapitating clothesline for a nearfall. “That was one of the hardest lariats I’ve seen in my life,” Romero said. Jonah avoided another Rainmaker and hit a standing powerbomb. Jonah went for the top-rope Torpedo frogsplash, but Okada moved to avoid it, and they were both down at 18:30. Jonah nailed his running Thesz Press. Okada hit a German Suplex and a Shotgun dropkick. Jonah nailed some stiff forearm shots. Okada nailed a landslide bodyslam, nailed the Rainmaker clothesline, and scored the clean pin. That was absolutely excellent.
* A nice video package aired, including footage from Impact Wrestling when Jay White and the Bullet Club turned on Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa. The video shows Tama’s victory over White to win their Block at the G1 Climax tournament.
9. Jay White (w/Gedo) defeated Tama Tonga (w/Jado) to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at 31:07. An intense lockup to start. White flipped Tonga to the floor at 3:00, and Tama sold a back injury from landing awkwardly. White immediately slammed him back-first into a guardrail. White dominated in the ring and was quite cocky about it. Tama finally hit a dropkick, and they were both down at 8:00, and the crowd came alive to rally for Tama. Tama hit a Stinger Splash.
Jay hit a running elbow in the corner and a spinning suplex for a nearfall at 11:00. Tama hit a Tongan Twist (Cody Rhodes-style swinging faceplant), and they were both down. Tama dragged him to the floor and hit another Tongan Twist. In the ring, Tama hit a Death Valley Driver. He went for a frogsplash at 14:00, but White got his knees up to block it. White dropped him stomach-first on the ring apron, and Tama had to dive into the ring to avoid being counted out.
White hit a swinging uranage for a nearfall at 17:00, and he applied a Boston Crab. Tama hit a DDT as we hear the 20:00 warning. Tama nailed the top-rope frogsplash for a nearfall. White got a rollup with his feet on the ropes, and he was livid at the ref when he stopped counting. The ref got bumped and White immediately hit a low blow on Tama. Jay White rolled to the floor and KO’d Jado, and got a chair from Gedo. However, Tama nailed a low blow on White! Tama got the chair and thought about hitting White, but he instead gave it to the referee. Tama got a rollup for a visual pin, but the ref was putting the chair on the floor and missed it.
They traded chops and both were winded, as we hear the 25:00 call. White hit a Flatliner and a deadlift German Suplex. White couldn’t hit Blade Runner; Tama couldn’t hit Gun Stun. Tama hit a jumping DDT. White again avoided a Gun Stun, and he began hitting Moxley-style elbow shots to the side of the face. White hit a leg-capture Regalplex for a nearfall at 28:00, then a brainbuster. White taunted Tama by slamming his hands against the mat, setting up for a finisher. However, Tama jumped to his feet, and nailed the Gun Stun for a believable nearfall out of nowhere! Both were down at 30:00 even.
Tama hit an enzuigiri and a Dragon Suplex, and he was fired up. Tama went for a Gun Stun but it was blocked. He went to jump off the ropes for a Gun Stun, but White caught him, hit the Blade Runner spinning faceplant, and scored the pin. That was really good, too.
* White got on the mic and mockingly thanked Tama for his years of being with him in the Bullet Club. He referred to himself as a “once-in-a-lifetime performer,” and in any other era, Tama would be a champion. He continued to boast about his accolades and accomplishments, until Okada came to the ring. They made it official that they will face each other at Wrestle Kingdom on Janury 4. Okada left the ring, and White celebrated as he was showered by a confetti cannon.
Final Thoughts: That was a really good main event, and while I fully expected White to win and retain, there were some really good false finishes in the last 10 minutes of the match. I give New Japan a lot of credit here for giving Tama Tonga a good, sustained push. I noted this at the end of the G1 Climax… he was given the ball and he’s carrying it.
There are just some wrestlers that connect and every match is magic. For Jonah, that man has been Okada. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every encounter they’ve had, whether in singles matches or multi-man tags. The match built nicely and never dragged, and Okada had to use every tool he had to knock off the big, unstoppable beast.
I really enjoyed Romero joining commentary, as I think it really helps having a wrestler in the booth providing insight. He talked about Jonah’s size and quickness, and added a lot to the match. While I love Charlton’s ability to translate, and his deep knowledge of NJPW history, he can’t provide this type of insight that Romero did here.
I hated seeing Shingo involved in the comedy-based KOPW trophy. It was fine for Toru Yano and Taichi. But this Shingo-ELP feud has been entertaining from a match quality standpoint, and it succeeded in the goal of elevating Phantasmo, who had just stepped up to the heavyweight division.
The undercard was fine but not really memorable. I am glad that Narita got the big push in his return, but I hope NJPW also keeps pushing Hikuleo, as he never has moved even into the mid-card tier here in Japan.
The Titan angle just played out weirdly. If you listen to the announcers, it sounded like they believed Naito knew it was Titan, but when Titan spoke on the mic, and the reaction of the LIJ members, it felt like Titan had basically just shown up and demanded to be part of their faction, and they agreed to it.
This was one of the longer New Japan shows, clocking in at four hours, partly because of that extensive memorial ceremony for Inoki to open the show.
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