By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Royal Quest – Day 2”
Taped October 2, 2022 in London, England at Crystal Palace Indoor Arena
Available on New Japan World
Like night one, this was a fantastic, packed crowd in the same sold-out venue. This building is large with a high ceiling. The lights are on, so you can see everyone. Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided English commentary.
Unfortunately, travel issues due to the hurricane caused Jonah to miss these shows. As I noted in my review of the first show, Yota Tsuji will replace Jonah in a singles match against Tomohiro Ishii.
* A nice video package opened the show, explaining that the winner of the Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr. match will earn a title shot against Will Ospreay. In the final day of Block action in the recently-completed G1 Climax tournament, Naito pinned Sabre in about two minutes, stunning (and embarrassing) Sabre, who has been on a revenge tour ever since.
1. El Desperado and Douki defeated Michael Oku and Robbie X at 9:34. Oku is the talented high-flyer who I describe as a slightlly taller Lio Rush. Robbie X is short and bald, reminding me of Matt Cross or Alan Angels. Early in the match, Oku and Robbie hit simultaneous dives to the floor. Oku hit a pounce-style running kick on Desperado at 2:30. Douki and Desperado worked over Robbie X. Oku hit an impressive springboard Lionsault for a nearfall at 8:30. As they wrestled on the mat, Desperado hooked Robbie’s arms, pulled him over, and pinned him out of nowhere. Solid match.
2. Hiromu Takahashi and Sanada defeated Luke Jacobs and Ethan Allen at 14:02. Luke Jacobs is a Bryan Danielson-style mat wrestler. My first time seeing Allen, who is of average size and build. Sanada and Allen started. Sanada tied up both opponents in the Paradise Lock, and Sanada and Hiromu hit kicks to their butts. Fairly basic action early on. Jacobs hit a pair of German Suplexes on Hiromu at 9:00, then a roaring forearm and a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall.
Hiromu fired back with his own German Suplex, and they were both down. Sanada entered and hit a dropkick. Sanada hit the mat and accidentally hit a low blow on Jacobs — he’s been doing that a lot lately. Sanada hit a twisting neckbreaker and a TKO stunner for a nearfall on Jacobs at 12:30, and Sanada shoved the ref. Allen hit a Doomsday clothesline on Sanada for a believable nearfall. However, Sanada applied the Skull End sleeperhold in the middle of the ring, and Allen quickly tapped out. That was really good the final few minutes.
3. Jazzy Gabert defeated Ava White at 10:16. I said this a day ago, but Ava White is essentially a slightly heavier Charlotte Flair, and Jazzy Gabert, now with bright pink hair, is essentially a thinner Jessika Havok. An intense lockup to start and they traded forearms. Ava hit an ax kick to the back of the head as they fought on the ring apron at 2:00. In the ring, Jazzy tied her up on the mat, and hit Sheamus-like blows to the chest. Jazzy tied her in an impressive bow-and-arrow at 5:00. She hit a spinning back fist and a tombstone piledriver, and they were both down at 9:00. Ava fired back with an awkward-looking Gotch-style piledriver for a believable nearfall. However, Jazzy hooked the leg and hit a high back suplex with a bridge for the pin.
4) “The United Empire” Will Ospreay, Mark Davis, Kyle Fletcher, Gideon Grey, and Great-O-Khan defeated Dax Harwood, Cash Wheeler, Ricky Knight Jr., Shota Umino, and Gabriel Kidd at 16:55. Shota charged Ospreay and attacked him at the bell. Dax entered and traded hard chops with Ospreay. Grey entered at 2:30 to a lot of boos; he just doesn’t even look like a wrestler. After Dax hit a few hard chops, Grey crawled to the corner and hugged O-Khan; at least he’s a good chickenshit heel. The United Empire began working over Kidd.
All ten men began brawling on the floor at 7:00, but the UE kept working over Kidd in the ring. Cash finally made the hot tag at 9:30 and he cleaned house. The Aussie Open team began working over Dax as Kelly and Charlton talked about the epic tag match from a night ago. Knight entered for the first time at 13:00 and hit a Death Valley Driver on O-Khan. All the heels began working over Knight in the corner. Ospreay hit a corkscrew splash on Knight for a nearfall. Grey swung a cane at Kinght but missed. However, the distraction allowed O-Khan to hit his Claw-to-skull chokeslam on Knight for the pin. Good match.
5. Tama Tonga, Hikuleo, and Hiroshi Tanahashi (w/Jado) defeated Jay White, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson (w/Gedo) at 10:53. Tama and Jay squared off and the crowd is unbelievably loud. Of course, White rolled to the floor and stalled. Hikuleo and Gallows stood toe-to-toe at 2:00. “Doc Gallows doesn’t give up height to too many people in this industry, but he does to Hikuleo,” Kelly observed, as they traded blows. The heels began working over Tanahashi. White did a dragon screw leg whip at 6:00 and played air guitar (Tanahashi’s gimmick) and the crowd loudly booed him.
Tama entered and hit a dropkick and a Stinger Splash on White at 8:30. White hit a DDT and they were both down. Gallows and Anderson set up for Magic Killer, but Hikuleo made the save. This allowed Tama Tonga to nail the Gun Stun stunner on Gallows out of nowhere for the clean pin. Good match.
6. Kazuchika Okada defeated Bad Dude Tito at 8:12. They immediately brawled to the floor. In the ring, Tito applied a Camel Clutch at 2:00. Chartlon compared Tito to Steve Williams, or Scott Norton. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Tito hit a Death Valley Driver at 5:00 and was fired up. He hit an enziguri and a German Suplex for a nearfall. Okada went for a Rainmaker short-arm clothesine, but Tito turned it into a Blue Thunder Bomb at 7:00. Okada fired back with a top-rope elbow drop and he hit the Rainmaker clothesline for the pin. Surprisingly short; they seemed to be setting the pace for a match twice this length.
7. Tomohiro Ishii defeated Yota Tsuji at 17:32. While I love Jonah, Yota is a solid replacement. Yota is wearing his black outfit that reminds me of a monk’s robe. They opened with shoulder tackles with neither man budging, then stiff forearm shots. Tsuji finally dropped him with a shoulder tackle at 2:30. Tsuji playfully slapped at Ishii’s head, which of course, just ticked Ishii off. Ishii backed him into the corner and unloaded chops on him.
Yota hit a mid-ring head-scissors takedown at 7:00, then an impressive backflip over the top rope to the floor on Ishii. In the ring, he hit a Bulldog Powerslam for a nearfall. He hit several Yes Kicks as Ishii was seated on the mat, and he was generally in charge of the action. They began trading hard open-hand slaps to the face at 10:30, and this popped the crowd. Yota ended the exchange by nailing a headbutt that dropped Ishii.
Yota hit a kneestrike to the face, then a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall, and they were both down. Ishii nailed a powerslam at 13:30. They collided mid-ring, stumbled backward, and both collapsed, and that got a big pop, too. Ishii dropped him with a headbutt, then a hard clothesline for a nearfall. Yota hit an Alabama Slam with a jackknife cover for a believable nearfall. They traded clotheslines with each man quickly getting up. This crowd is red-hot for this action. Yota hit a kneestrike; Ishii hit an enzuigiri, and they were both down again at 17:00. Ishii nailed the brainbuster for the pin. That was tremendous.
8. Tetsuya Naito defeated Zack Sabre Jr. to become number one contender for the IWGP U.S. Title at 20:59. Big pop for both men. Sabre stalled on the floor and angrily knocked down a guardrail. Sabre applied a Fujiwara Armbar while Naito was tied in the ropes at 5:00; Kelly noted this match is now “twice as long as their G1 meeting.” Sabre took control, working over Naito’s damaged left arm. Naito hit a headscissors takedown at 9:00, then a backbreaker over his knee as he pulled Sabre out of the ropes.
Naito applied a head-scissors lock in the middle of the ring but Sabre reached the ropes. Sabre applied a Divorce Court armbreaker on the mat, and he turned it into a modified Triangle Choke at 13:30, but Naito reached the ropes. Naito hit a huracanrana out of the corner at 16:00, then a Snow Plow driver. Sabre fired back with a Michinoku Driver, and they were both down.
Sabre hit a few European Uppercuts, but Naito hit a chop that dropped Sabre. Naito hit an enzuigiri. Sabre again applied a Fujiwara Armbar on the mat, then he locked both arms in a Rings of Saturn move at 19:00, and the crowd chanted for Naito to tap out, but he was able to reach the ropes. Sabre hit a tornado DDT out of the corner, but Naito hit a Destino. Sabre popped up and hit a Dragon Suplex. Naito hit another Destino but didn’t get all of it. Naito immediately hit a third Destino, fully hitting it, to score the pin. Really good mat-based match.
* Other members of Los Ingobernables hit the ring to celebrate with Naito. Naito spoke on the mic in English saying “me very happy, thank you very match.”
Final Thoughts: In my G1 review, I noted I didn’t mind Sabre’s quick loss at the time. I was right in my predictions that this turned into a good storyline, and I knew these two would have a better, longer match down the road because of it. A very good main event.
That said, Ishii-Tsuji was best match for me. I just love the intensity Ishii brings to every match, and the look on his face when someone ticks him off that says “you made a mistake!” I made this comment in my review from Night 1, but it is just a question of when will New Japan bring Shota Umino and Yota Tsuji back to Japan and get them in the upper card mix. Their new, young blood is really needed to freshen up the roster. Yota proved here he is ready and can deliver.
The Tanahashi six-man tag was much better than the nearly identical match a day earlier, which was eight-man tag that also featured Jado and Gedo. Kelly raved, like I have, about how Tama Tonga is just really peaking right now with his best work, and Hikuleo seems more confident than ever. He looked good in an exchange with Gallows.
The show clocked in at just over three hours.