By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Battle Autumn Night Two”
October 15, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
New Japan Pro Wrestling announced this week it is creating a “TV title” through a 16-man, single-elimination tournament. A day ago, Zack Sabre Jr. and David Finlay won their respective first-round matches to advance. Two more first-round tournament matches headline this show.
Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided commentary from ringside.
1. Michinoku and Taichi defeated Kenta and Gedo at 8:28. Strange to open with a heel-heel matchup and everyone stalled early. Gedo choked Taka. Taka finally hit an enzuigiri and made the hot tag to Taichi at 6:30. Taichi hit a double clothesline. Taichi got a rollup to pin Gedo. That was really, really dull.
2. Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, and Toru Yano defeated Ren Narita, Togi Makabe, and Tomoaki Honma at 9:42. Ishii and Narita will meet later in this TV title tournament, and they started against each other. Yano slapped the back of Honma’s head and he removed a ring pad. Goto worked over Makabe. Ishii entered and chopped Makabe at 4:00. Makabe hit a powerslam. Ren tagged in and traded better offense with Ishii, with numerous mid-ring forearm shots.
Ishii hit a German Suplex, and they were both down. Ren hit a belly-to-belly overhead suplex. Goto entered to face Honma. Ishii hit a shoulder tackle that sent Narita flying. Goto hit his neckbreaker over his knee for a believable nearfall on Honma, then a swinging clothesline for the pin. Ishii and Narita kept brawling after the match. Yano spent maybe 20 seconds in the ring here. This was really only good when Ishii and Narita were both in the ring.
3. Alex Zayne, Tiger Mask, Master Wato, and David Finlay defeated Zack Sabre Jr., Douki, El Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru at 10:26. As I noted at the top, Sabre and Finlay won their tournament matches a day ago and are now on opposite sides here. Desperado and Wato opened against each other; they are meeting soon in a four-way match for the junior title. The heels began working over Tiger Mask; Charlton said Tiger Mask has been competing lately in All Japan. Sabre tied Tiger Mask up on the mat at 4:00. Zayne made the hot tag and cleared the ring. He hit a double dropkick, then a flip dive to the floor on two opponents.
In the ring, Zayne hit his summersault axe kick to the neck at 6:00. Kanemaru hit a spike DDT on Zayne, and they were both down. Finlay finally entered for the first time and traded European Uppercuts with Sabre. They traded rollups. Douki tagged in. Suddenly everyone is brawling an the ref has lost control. Douki got a backslide for a nearfall on Finlay. Finlay hit the Trash Panda neckbreaker over his knee on Douki for the pin. Decent match. Finlay and Sabre continued to jaw at each other.
4. Sho and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Hikuleo and Jado at 9:28. The heels attacked from behind to start the match. Hikuleo leveled Yujiro with a shoulder tackle, and he tossed Sho around the ring. Jado tagged in at 2:00, but the heels quickly worked him over. Hikuleo finally made the hot tag back in at 6:00 and beat up the heels. Sho hit a Superman Punch on Jado. Hikuleo accidentally hit a Stinger Splash on Jado. Yujiro hit a low blow on Jado, then his Pimp Juice jumping DDT for the pin. That was pretty dull, too.
5. “LIJ” Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Titan, and Bushi defeated “United Empire” Gideon Grey, TJP, Francesco Akira, and Great-O-Khan at 11:50. Titan and Akira opened with quick lucha reversals. LIJ worked over Grey. Akira and TJP worked together to beat down Bushi. O-Khan hit his Mongolian Chops on Bushi at 5:00, and the UE worked over Bushi. Sanada made the hot tag and worked over the UE squad. He tied O-Khan in the Paradise Lock and kicked him in the butt.
O-Khan got Sanada up for a Torture Rack. Titan and TJP traded quick offense. Grey entered and tried to remove Titan’s mask, but Bushi came up behind him and hit a Lungblower on Grey. Titan hit a springboard dropkick. Bushi dove throughthe ropes onto several heels, leaving Grey alone in the ring. Titan hit a double stomp move on Grey’s back to pin him. Best match of the show so far, but that’s really not a high bar to meet.
6. Shingo Takagi and Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori ended via DQ at 8:41. Shingo’s KOPW trophy is bandaged together, which was actually pretty funny. Hiromu hit a Michinoku Driver on Ishimori early in the match. Shingo accidentally clotheslined Hiromu. ELP worked over Shingo on the floor. The heels worked over Hiromu in the ring. Shingo entered at 5:30, but Ishimori hit his handspring-back-spin kick on him.
Phantasmo tagged in and traded offense with Shingo. Phantasmo again hit a low blow punch when the ref was out of position. Phantasmo got a garbage can from under the ring. Shingo hit Phantasmo with a trash can lid, which for the second straight night, caused a disqualification. Phantasmo got the trophy from ringside and broke it over his knee. Kelly said Shingo and Hiromu won via DQ, but I thought the ref disqualified Shingo when he used the trash can lid (the onscreen graphic agreed with me.) As Phantasmo walked to the back, he turned to the camera and challenged Shingo to a “New York City street fight” at the upcoming U.S. shows.
* A reminder that TV title matches have a 15-minute time limit. In the event of a draw, the winner is determined by a coin flip.
7. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) defeated Aaron Henare in a first-round NJPW TV Title tournament match at 10:55. Henare attacked to start the match. They brawled to the floor, where EVIL slammed Henare into the guardrail at 2:00. In the ring, EVIL hit a fisherman’s buster for a nearfall. Henare hit a Thesz Press and punched EVIL in the face and then he hit a senton for a nearfall at 4:00. Henare hit a Samoan Drop and a spinning sit-out powerbomb.
EVIL hit a chairshot over Henare’s head, busting the chair, but Aaron just shook it off and that popped the crowd. Henare hit a second-rope senton for a nearfall at 8:00. Togo distracted Henare and they fought on the apron. Henare went for another second-rope senton but he missed, and they were both down at the 10:00 warning. EVIL whipped Henare shoulder-first into the corner, then he immediately hit the Everything is EVIL uranage (Rock Bottom) for the pin. Decent match.
8. Yoshi-Hoshi defeated Jeff Cobb in a first-round NJPW TV Title tournament match at 11:14. Yoshi-Hoshi charged him and hit a shotgun dropkick at the bell. Cobb hit a delayed vertical suplex and he surfed on his back. Cobb hit a bodyslam, but Yoshi-Hoshi got his knees up to block a standing moonsault at 3:00. Yoshi-Hoshi hit a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker. They brawled to the floor, where Cobb slammed Yoshi-Hoshi’s back into the ring post. Ouch! Yoshi-Hoshi struggled to get to his feet, and Kelly wondered if Cobb would win by countout, but Yoshi-Hoshi dove back itno the ring at 6:30.
Cobb hit a gutwrench suplex, but he clutched at his own knee upon landing and sold being in pain. Yoshi-Hoshi immediately applied a knee-bar submission hold, and Cobb screamed in pain. Cobb hit a hard clothesline at 9:30. Yoshi-Hoshi hit a dropkick on the knee and hit a clothesline for a nearfall. Cobb nailed the Spin Cycle slam. Yoshi-Hoshi got a rollup for a believable nearfall. Cobb could’t hit the Tour of the Islands slam, and Yoshi-Hoshi immediately got a rollup for the clean pin, as we’ve had our first upset of the tournament. So, Yoshi-Hoshi will face EVIL in the second round.
* Yoshi-Hoshi got on the mic and noted he lost in the G1 to Cobb and in tag matches, but he is standing tall here.
Final Thoughts: I have thought of this for years: if you are a former world champion, you should be ineligible for a third-tier title, like a “TV title.” It would be a simple rule, making it clear this title is for the mid-card tier. Point being, a former NJPW champion like EVIL shouldn’t even be in this tournament. Henare has steadily improved, but EVIL really did need this win after posting a disappointing overall performance at this year’s G1 Climax tournament.
The main event was well laid-out. I like Cobb more, and I’m sure most would agree this was an upset. EVIL vs. Yoshi-Hoshi should be an excellent second-round match.
The undercard was more underwhelming than normal. Opening with a heel-heel match turned out to be a bad idea. Maybe it needed a hard-hitting Young Lions match. Both the show a day ago and here, I’m really missing top stars Jonah, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, Will Ospreay and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The tournament continues on Sunday with Sanada vs. Taichi (quite familiar foes of late!) and Hirooki Goto vs. Kenta. The show clocked in at about 2 and a half hours.