11/5 NJPW “Battle Autumn” results: Vetter’s review of Will Ospreay vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP U.S. Title, “FTR” Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood vs. Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan for the IWGP Tag Team Titles, Sanada vs. Ren Narita and Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Evil in NJPW TV Title tournament semifinal matches


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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Battle Autumn”
November 5, 2022 in Osaka, Japan at Edion Arena
Streamed live on New Japan World

This is a large venue and it appears we have a good crowd. As the camera moved around, I can see the upper deck is full (during the main event). Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided live, remote commentary. I actually prefer this, as Kelly from home (without mask) is so much clearer than sitting at ringside (with a mask). Charlton said this is a capacity crowd of 4,006.

1. “United Empire” TJP and Francesco Akira defeated “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Titan and Bushi to retain the IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles at 11:40. Bushi and Titan attacked before the bell and hit simultaneous dives to the floor. Akira hit a Doomsday senton for a nearfall, and UE hit their team X-Factor faceplant. Bushi hit a dropkick on TJP’s knee at 3:00. “This match has a lucha feel to it,” Kelly said. (I’ve written that in nearly all my reviews of this tour.) Titan hit a tornado DDT on TJP for a nearfall at 5:00.

Bushi hit a second-rope missile dropkick on Akira, and LIJ began working Francesco over. Bushi hit his Lungblower move to the jaw. Bushi and Akira traded mid-ring forearm shots at 9:00, and Akira hit a doublestomp to the chest. Titan hit a top-rope double stomp to Akira’s chest, then he hit a springboard frogsplash for a nearfall. Akira hit a superkick on Bushi, and UE hit their running front/back kneestrikes to Bushi’s head at 11:00. Akira hit a Doomsday Stunner to pin Bushi. That was a tremendous opener.

2. “United Empire” Mark Davis, Kyle Fletcher, Gideon Grey, and Aaron Henare defeated Alex Zayne, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, and David Finlay at 9:49. Really no storyline at all here, just an excuse to get everyone on the show, so Kelly and Charlton talked about the upcoming World Tag League tournament and if Yano and Tanahashi will team up. Finlay and Henare started. Zayne entered and hit his corkscrew senton on Henare for a nearfall at 2:30. The UE began working over Zayne. Davis hit a delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall.

Zayne hit a Pele Kick and made the hot tag to Tanahashi at 5:30. Grey entered, but Tanahashi dropped him with one blow in a comedy spot. Tanahashi hit a second-rope summersault on Davis for a nearfall. Davis hit a senton. Yano entered for the first time at 7:30 and he immediately removed a corner pad, and he got a schoolboy rollup on Fletcher for a nearfall. Fletcher and Davis picked up their opponents and slammed their backs against each other. They hit their “Korealis” team spinning slam on Yano for the pin.

* (Prediction before the match: Hikuleo wins in under five minutes. He should, anyway.)

3. Hikuleo (w/Jado) defeated Yujiro Takahashi (w/Pieter, Sho) at 1:45/official time 0:28. Kelly acknowledged that Hikuleo should be facing Karl Anderson, who is “now under contract to WWE.” He noted that Hikuleo has begged New Japan not to strip Anderson of the title. Sho clipped Hikuleo’s knee from behind before the bell, and Sho and Yujiiro worked him over; Charlton noted the bell hasn’t started. Hikuleo hit a double noggin’ knocker and a double clothesline. The bell is rang at 1:17. (I start stopwatch at first contact.) Hikuleo hit a chokeslam for the pin. Charlton shouted, “28 seconds!” This didn’t need to be longer. Hikuleo remains dominant.

* A reminder that TV title tournament matches have a 15-minute time limit.

4. Ren Narita defeated Sanada in an NJPW TV Title tournament semifinal match at 14:30. Narita still dresses as a Young Lion in basic black trunks. Standing reversals and the crowd is quietly watching this intense exchange. Sanada went for Skull End/Dragon sleeper at 2:30, but Narita immediately reached the ropes. Sanada tied him in the Paradise Lock and hit the running dropkick to the butt. They went to the floor, where Sanada hit a swinging neckbreaker. Sanada hit a piledriver on the floor at 4:00; Narita stumbled back into the ring to avoid being counted out.

Sanada tied him up in the ropes and was fully in control. He hit a plancha to the floor. They traded forearm shots. Narita hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, and they were both down at 7:00. Narita hit a northern lights suplex and immediately applied a cross-armbreaker, with Sanada reaching the ropes. Narita hit a back suplex. Sanada went for Skull End but Narita escaped it. Sanada applied Skull End again at 11:00 and sat down on the mat.

Sanada went for a top-rope moonsault, but Narita got his knees up. They began trading stiff forearms. Sanada hit a springboard missile dropkick, but he couldn’t get the O’Connor Roll. Narita went to a sleeper at 13:30. Narita hit a Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall. They each hit an enziguri. Narita hit the high belly-to-belly overhead suplex with a bridge, and scored the pin. Good match; I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that is the biggest singles victory of Narita’s career.

* They aired a silly backstage skit where Kosei Fujita pretended to be Sabre, saying things in English. However, EVIL dragged Fujita to ringside. (This would backfire…)

5. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated EVIL (w/Dick Togo) in an NJPW TV Title tournament semifinal match at 4:48. A reminder that Sabre scored a quick victory over EVIL in the G1 Climax tournament a few months ago. This is heel-heel, but the crowd respects Sabre and he’s the de facto babyface. A “fake ZSJ” (Ryohei Oiwa) appeared at the entrance, allowing the real Sabre to attack EVIL in the ring and get a quick rollup for a nearfall. They brawed on the floor. Sabre applied an anklelock on the floor at 3:00. Back in the ring, Sabre scored another rollup for a believable nearfall, and he applied an anklelock. Fujita and Oiwa stopped Togo from interfering. Sabre scored a rollup out of nowhere again for the clean pin.

* So, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ren Narita will take place at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4.

6. El Desperado and Master Wato defeated Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori at 16:49. This is a “random partners” match-up of guys who don’t like each other; these four will face each other at Wrestle Kingdom in a four-way. Ishimori refused a handshake from partner Hiromu. Hiromu and Wato started with overhand chops. Ishimori stomped on Hiromu on the floor. Wato argued with Desperado (his teammate!). In the ring, Wato applied a Camel Clutch on Hiromu, but Hiromu reached the ropes at 3:30.

Ishimori tagged in by slapping partner Wato in the face and they yelled at each other. Meanwhile, Ishimori has hopped off the ring apron and is standing on the floor, amused that his partner Hiromu is being beaten up. Desperado dragged Hiromu up the ramp and suplexed him on the ramp at 8:00. In the ring, Hiromu fired up and hit clotheslines in the corner on each opponent. Ishimori stood on the corner and demanded the tag! Hiromu stumbled over and clocked him with a forearm, then hit a shotgun dropkick from the apron to the floor (on his partner!)

Hiromu dragged partner Ishimori in the ring and hit a faceplant on him. Wato began working over Ishimori. Desperado entered and applied the Stretch Muffler on Ishimori. Ishimori swung free and applied an STF on Desperado. Wato hit a flip dive to the floor on Ishimori at 14:00. Desperado hit a flip dive to the floor on all three guys. The ref began counting quickly, but all four jumped in the ring before the 20-count. Funny. (I really thought we were about to see a count-out/draw.) In the ring, Hiromu hit a superkick on Wato. Ishimori hit his Lungblower on Desperado. Hiromu hit a sit-out powerbomb on Wato, and he put Wato on his shoulders. However, Ishimori hit an intentional kneestrike on his partner Hiromu! Wato collapsed on Hiromu for the pin. This was a fun match.

7. Kazuchika Okada and Tama Tonga defeated Jay White and Kenta (w/Gedo) at 17:34. Okada and White started, then Kenta and Tama entered at 2:00. Tama hit a dropkick. (Note: clean-shaven Tama looks so much younger. His beard turns white at the ends.) The heels worked over Tama, with White choking him with a cable cord at 4:30. The Bullet Club remained in control in the ring. Kenta hit a stiff kick to the back at 7:30.

Okada made the hot tag and went for a Money Clip sleeper on White, but Jay immediately reached the ropes at 9:30. Okada hit a DDT and they were both down. Okada nailed the neckbreaker over his knee on Jay, and they were both down. Kenta entered and hit a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker at 12:00. Okada hit a Mafia Kick, and they were both down. Tama re-entered and traded blows with Kenta. Tama hit a clothesline and was fired up.

Tama nailed a Stinger Splash and a high back suplex for a nearfall at 13:30. Jay hit a Flatliner on Tama and a German Suplex. Kenta hit a top-rope doublestomp to the chest for a nearfall. All four brawled in the ring. Tama hit the Tongan Twist swinging faceplant on Kenta at 15:30. Tama hit his rolling Death Valley Driver and the top-rope frogsplash for a believable nearfall. Okada hit a dropkick on Jay, sending him to the floor. Kenta set up for Go To Sleep, but Tama blocked it. Tama then nailed the Gun Stun stunner for the clean pin on Kenta. Good match that played out exactly as I anticipated.

8. “FTR” Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood defeated “United Empire” Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan to retain the IWGP Tag Team Titles at 17:31. Cobb and Wheeler started, and Dax entered at 2:30 to face O-Khan, and they traded forearm shots. GOK hit his Mongolian Chops. Dax hit a snap suplex. O-Khan choked Dax with his braid. Cobb began working over Dax’s arm in the ropes and the UE were in charge. Dax finally hit a dragon screw leg whip on Cobb, then a basement dropkick on the knee at 9:30. However, Cash was knocked off the ring apron and Dax couldn’t tag out.

Dax hit a DDT on O-Khan. Cash made the hot tag at 11:00 and unloaded blows on Cobb, and he nailed a big German Suplex that got a pop. Dax hit a Doomsday Bulldog on Cobb for a nearfall at 13:00. Dax and O-Khan traded mid-ring forearm shots and clotheslines. Cash went for a plancha, but Cobb caught him and slammed him into the guardrail. Dax nailed a top-rope superplex on O-Khan and Cash immediately hit a frogsplash for a nearfall at 16:00, but Cobb made the save. Cobb couldn’t hit the Tour of the Islands. Suddenly everyone was down and the crowd is hot. FTR hit the Big Rig team lungblower on O-Khan and scored the pin. Charlton speculated the next challengers will be whoever wins World Tag League.

9. Will Ospreay (w/Gideon Grey) defeated Tetsuya Naito to retain the IWGP U.S. Title at 30:07. Quick reversals out of the gate, ending with them both doing the ‘tranquilo’ pose on the mat. Naito nailed a hip-toss where Ospreay landed across Naito’s knee at 2:30, and Ospreay sold the pain and rolled to the floor to recover. As they fought in the corner in the ring, Ospreay nailed a chop that sent Naito over the ropes and to the floor at 6:00. They brawled on the floor and over the first barricade.

Back in the ring, Ospreay hit a series of chops and was in charge. Ospreay nailed a spinning backbreaker over his knee at 9:00, and now Naito was selling back pain. Naito hit a dropkick to Ospreay’s back as Will was seated on the mat, then a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker for a nearfall at 11:30. He applied a leglock around Will’s arms and head, but Ospreay reached the ropes. Ospreay nailed a spin kick, then a plancha to the floor, and they were both down at 15:00 (the official time is right on with my clock.)

Once they returned to the ring, Ospreay hit a step-up enzuigiri, then a springboard flying forearm for a nearfall. Naito, while standing on the floor, hit a neckbreaker on Ospreay, who was lying on the mat, with them both crashing on the floor, and they were both down at 18:00. Naito whipped Ospreay into the ring post. Ospreay leapt off a guardrail and nailed a Cloud Cutter. They both dove into the ring just before the 20-count. They traded forearm shots from on their knees, then while standing. Naito got the better of the exchange, with Ospreay collapsing to the mat.

Ospreay hit a series of Kawada Kicks, then an Exploder Suplex. Naito nailed a tornado DDT at 24:00, then a second-rope Poison Rana, but Ospreay landed on his feet! Ospreay immediately hit a springboard Cloud Cutter for a believable nearfall. They brawled in the corner, with Naito hitting a huracanrana to the mat. Ospreay hit a jumping sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall at 27:00. Naito hit an enzuigiri and he dropped Ospreay face-first on the top turnbuckle. Ospreay hit a superkick, but Naito hit a Destino for a nearfall.

Naito set up for a Destino, but Ospreay set up for a Stormbreaker, but Naito still managed to escape and hit a second Destino. Ospreay nailed the Hidden Blade running forearm to the jaw, and they were both down at 29:30. Ospreay nailed the Hidden Blade to the back of the head for a believable nearfall. Ospreay immediately hit the Stormbreaker/spinning faceplant off his shoulders for the clean pin. “Somehow, Will Ospreay is once again victorious!” Kelly exclaimed.

* Will Ospreay leaned into the camera and said “I’m so f—ing good.” He got on the mic and listed off his wins over Orange Cassidy, David Finlay, and now Tetsuya Naito. “Who is next?” he asked, making clear he is making an open challenge. He paused but no one came out of the back. “I guess no one wants to get in the ring with THE best wrestler in the world.” The confetti cannon went off, so I guess we don’t get to find out a challenger right now.

As he went to leave the ring, the lights went out and the crowd popped!!! The screen announced that “Roughneck” Shota Umino is coming, and Shota walked to the ring. Shota got on the mic, but then he just clocked Ospreay with a punch, and he hit the Moxley-style Death Rider DDT. He stood over Ospreay, holding the title. Kelly said, “Welcome home, kid!” Shota left the ring and celebrated in the crowd.

Final Thoughts: Will Ospreay isn’t wrong, he is the best wrestler in the world today and once again had an epically great match. That said, even when Naito hit his two Destinos, I never thought he was winning. We’re in the Ospreay era.

If you’ve read my recent reviews, I’ve wondered when Shota would come back to New Japan and immediately move into the top tier mix. Turns out today is finally that day.

FTR-United Empire earns second-best. It wasn’t on the level of the FTR match in England against Aussie Open, but it was good. I’ll give the junior tag match that opened the show third-best, just ahead of Sanada-Narita.

I have noted how ice cold the House of Torture is, and NJPW certainly seemed to acknowledge that by having EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi lose their respective matches so quickly.

This was a long show, clocking in at more than three-and-a-half hours.


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