By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Battle Autumn”
November 3, 2022 in Osaka, Japan at Osaka Prefectural Gym
Streamed live on New Japan World
NJPW is building to a major show on Saturday. There was Japanese commentary on the show. This a gym — you can see the basketball hoops in the background — and it is one of the smaller buildings New Japan uses. The attendance was maybe 600 to 800, all floor seating.
1. Toru Yano and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Yuto Nakashima and Ryohei Oiwa at 8:41. Yuto and Hiroshi started. Oiwa hit a nice dropkick in the corner on Tanahashi, then a gut-wrench suplex. Both Young Lions put their opponents in Boston Crabs. Tanahashi tied Oiwa in a Texas Cloverleaf, sat down for pressure, and Oiwa tapped out. Decent opener.
2. Hikuleo and Jado defeated “United Empire” Gideon Grey and Aaron Henare at 5:56. Hikuleo has been an absolute beast on this recent tour of Japan, just dominating the shorter competition. Jado and Grey started. The heels worked over Jado. Hikuleo finally entered at 5:00, and he beat up on both Grey and Henare. He no-sold a chop from Grey, then he leveled Gideon with a chop. Hikuleo nailed a powerslam to pin Grey. As basic as basic gets.
3. “United Empire” Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb defeated David Finlay and Tomoaki Honma at 10:57. O-Khan and Cobb are getting a tag title match against FTR, so they need to go over strong here. All four brawled at the bell. O-Khan used his braid to choke Honma, and he hit him with his Mongolian Chops. Cobb entered and held Honma upside down for a long period of time, then dropped him and surfed on his back at 5:30. Honma hit a double DDT and finally made the hot tag to Finlay. Finlay nailed a leaping forearm shot, then a second-rope forearm, on Cobb. Cobb hit a spinning back suplex, and they were both down at 7:30.
O-Khan and Honma tagged back in, and GOK choked him again with his braid, but this time, Honma freed himself and tugged on the braid. Honma nailed his Kokeshi falling headbutt, then a DDT. All four brawled in the ring again. GOK and Cobb hit simultaneous superkicks, and O-Khan nailed an Exploder Suplex on Honmma. O-Khan applied the Sheepkiller head-submission hold while having Honma bent backward over his knee, and Honma tapped out. Topped my expectations.
4. El Desperado, Taichi, and Douki defeated Taiji Ishimori, Gedo, and Kenta at 9:52. I hate heel-heel matchups, as the crowd sits silently and doesn’t cheer for anyone. Kenta and Taichi started, but quickly, all six were brawling. Kenta choked Taichi on the mat. Desperado entered at 5:30 and traded quicker offense with Ishimori, and they traded hard forearm shots. Desperado hit a high back suplex. Douki and Gedo entered at 8:00, and Douki hit a double stomp to the chest for a nearfall. Gedo hit a superkick for a nearfall. Desperado hit a top-rope doublestomp on Gedo, and he applied the “Douki chokey” modified triangle choke, and Gedo tapped out. That match had almost no action.
5. Zack Sabre Jr. and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Dick Togo and EVIL at 10:26. Sabre and EVIL will meet in the semifinals this weekend for the newly created TV title, and that’s the main storyline here. But, this also is essentially heel-heel. Sabre and Kanemaru worked over Togo’s left leg early. EVIL pushed a chair into Kanemaru’s throat on the floor at 3:00, and that allowed EVIL and Togo to take control of the match. Sabre entered at 6:00 and hit some European Uppercuts on EVIL, and the crowd is behind Zack.
Sabre tied him up in a bow-and-arrow, then tied up his legs. Togo charged at Sabre, so he applied a submission with his arms while EVIL’s legs also were tied up. Kanemaru entered and applied a Figure Four Leglock on Togo. Togo got his chain and choked Kanemaru. Sabre came up behind Togo and choked him with the chain. This allowed Kanemaru to apply the Figure Four Leglock, and Togo tapped out. EVIL and Sabre continued to brawl on the floor after the bell.
6. Bushi defeated Francesco Akira at 10:26. This is a preview of the junior tag titles match this weekend. Bushi attacked from behind before the bell. Francesco applied a leglock around the head. They traded hard forearm shots at 4:30, and Bushi hit a Lungblower. Bushi hit a top-rope missile dropkick then he dove through the ropes, barreling into Akira on the floor at 6:00, and they were both down. Akira tied him a Tajiri-style Tarantula in the ropes. Bushi hit an enzuigiri. Akira hit a German Suplex for a nearfall at 9:30, and he went for a flying double knees to the back of the head, but Bushi ducked to avoid it. Bushi got an inside cradle out of nowhere for the pin.
* TJP immediately ran in and attacked Bushi, which brought out Titan, and the next match was immediately underway!
7. Titan defeated TJP at 14:12. Really quick reversals to start the match, then they brawled to the floor, where TJP took control. TJP hit his catapult senton for a nearfall at 3:00. TJP applied an abdominal stretch and tugged at Titan’s mask. TJP hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip and was cocky as he took control. In a cool spot, TJP applied a Sharpshooter while also having Titan’s arms tied up at 5:30. Titan hit a spin kick to the face, then a springboard crossbody block.
Titan nailed a flip dive over the top rope, and they were both down on the floor. Back in the ring, Titan nailed a superkick. TJP hit a springboard twisting forearm shot, and they were both down at 9:00. They traded forearm shots from on their knees, then from the standing position. TJP hit a spin kick to the head and his version of Eat D’Feet/Pele Kick. TJP dropped Titan gut-first across the top rope, but he missed a top-rope kneedrop to the back.
Titan hit a top-rope double stomp to the chest. TJP applied a mid-ring Figure Four Leglock at 13:00, but Titan reversed it. As the ref checked to see if TJP was going to tap out, Akira jumped in the ring and grabbed Titan’s mask! TJP missed his top-rope Mamba Splash. Bushi got the mask back and gave it to Titan. Titan then hit his springboard double stomp to TJP’s back for the pin. That was really, really good.
8. Sanada, Tetsuya Naito, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Ren Narita, Master Wato, and Alex Zayne at 17:29. Sanada and Narita are facing each other in the other semifinal for the TV title, and they opened the match with an intense lockup. Sanada went for the Paradise Lock, but Narita turned it into a cross-armbreaker. Nice spot. Hiromu and Wato tagged in at 3:30 and traded overhand chops to the chest. Wato hit a head-scissors takedown.
Zayne entered at 5:00 and tied up Hiromu’s arm. Hiromu tied up Wato in the ropes, then he tossed Wato into the guardrail, and suddenly everyone is brawling on the floor. Back in the ring, Sanada worked over Wato’s left arm. Naito tagged in at 8:00, hit some quick stomps, but tagged right back out. Hiromu hit a dragon screw leg whip at 10:00. Narita made the hot tag and brawled with Sanada. Ren hit a Northern Lights suplex, and he quickly applied a cross-armbreaker. Sanada fired back with a dropkick at 12:00, then a plancha to the floor.
Sanada placed Ren’s feet on the top rope and hit a twisting neckbreaker, and they were both down at 14:00. Sanada and Zayne tagged in, and Alex hit a jumping knee in the corner. Zayne hit a huracanrana out of the corner and a back suplex, then his Asai Moonsault to the floor, and he was fired up. Back in the ring, Zayne hit his summersault ax kick to the back of Naito’s neck at 16:00. Naito hit a basement dropkick and got a nearfall on Zayne. Hiromu hit a superkick on Zayne, and Naito nailed the Destino flipping faceplant on Zayne for the pin. That really picked up nicely. Sanada and Narita stood across from each other and just stared at each other.
* Naito got on the mic and addressed the crowd.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed TJP-Titan, and they’ve had really good lucha-style exchanges throughout this tournament, so that earns best match. The main event really picked up and earns second best, ahead of Akira-Bushi, which gets third. I guess I am a little surprised that both TJP and Akira lost their singles matches; to me, this is the equivalent of a champion losing a non-title match.
I’ve stated this before — watching the Young Lions fight each other is fairly dull, because they keep their moves so rudimentary. I love watching them get in the ring with someone like Tanahashi, where they can really something from a top performer.
While this current tour has missed some star power, I feel they’ve built nicely to the show on Saturday, which features Naito vs. Will Ospreay, FTR vs. O-Khan & Cobb, the two TV title semifinals, and Okada and Tama Tonga vs. Kenta and Jay White.
This show clocked in about two-and-a-half hours.