By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
NJPW Capital Collision
Washington, D.C. at Entertainment & Sports Arena
Streamed April 15, 2023 on FITE TV
Ian Riccaboni, Veda Scott. and Alex Koslov provided commentary…
NJPW Capital Collision Pre-Show
1. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Bad Dude Tito and Shane Haste defeated “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson at 8:28. Tito hit a swinging Flatliner faceplant for the pin. Good opener that I felt could have gone either way.
NJPW Capital Collision Main Show
1. Volador Jr., Mike Bailey, Kevin Knight, Gabriel Kidd, and Kushida defeated Rocky Romero, Lio Rush, Chuck Taylor, The DKC, and Clark Connors at 10:17. This is about a feud between Volador Jr. and Romero. Lio got a huge hometown ovation. Connors and Kidd opened. Bailey and DKC traded kicks. Lio hit a decapitating clothesline on Knight. Bailey hit his running Shooting Star Press on Lio for a nearfall at 6:30.
Romero and Volador finally entered to square off, with Volador diving through the ropes onto Rocky. Taylor hit a flip dive onto everyone. Connors speared Kidd to the floor. Knight hit his impressive dropkick. Volador hit a Lungblower on Rocky to pin him. Veda Scott said that means Volador will get a future title shot. Good, fast-paced match.
* I was thinking that outside of Volador, no one was really presented as a heel in that match. Right on cue, Clark Connors beat up The DKC after the match. No one stepped in to stop him. The commentary trio were shocked and perplexed, wondering what brought this on.
2. David Finlay defeated AR Fox at 10:27. Basic first few minutes as the commentary team talked about the Bullet Club and what is next for them. Fox hit a flip off the ring apron to the floor on Finlay at 2:30. In the ring, Finlay took control and beat him down with some basic stomps and was booed. Fox hit an enzuigiri at 6:00 and a stunner for a believable nearfall.
Fox went for a top-rope Swanton Bomb, but Finlay got his knees up. Finlay hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a believable nearfall. Fox hit a brainbuster, and this time, he hit the Swanton Bomb for a believable nearfall at 8:30. Fox hit a second-rope Spanish Fly move, then a 450 Splash for a believable nearfall. Finlay set up for Trash Panda, but Fox blocked it. Finlay hit a stunner and a clothesline for a nearfall. Finlay then nailed the Trash Panda neckbreaker over the knee for the pin. Good match, but the winner was never in doubt.
* Finlay got on the mic and told DC that this city sucks. He called out Clark Connors, who got in the ring. Finlay said he sees Connors’ capabilities. He said Bullet Club has lost its way, but he’s “looking for savages who can win championships.” Connors and Finlay did the ‘Too Sweet’ hand gesture, as Connors has joined the Bullet Club.
* A video package aired, showing each of Zack Sabre Jr.’s TV title defense wins. A reminder that TV title matches have 15-minute time limits.
3. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Tom Lawlor to retain the NJPW TV Title at 13:14. These two had some really good exchanges during the G1 Climax tournament last fall. Mat reversals to open, and Veda wondered if Lawlor would actually tap out. Sabre twisted the left ankle. Lawlor hit a hard chop at 3:30 that dropped Sabre. They began trading mid-ring chops and European Uppercuts. Sabre hit some Kawada Kicks and Lawlor was bleeding from the mouth.
Lawlor hit an Exploder Suplex at 7:00 and a diving spear in the corner. Lawlor applied an anklelock; Sabre escaped and applied a mid-ring Octopus, but Lawlor went back to the anklelock. Sabre tied up both arms in a Rings of Saturn-type hold, but Lawlor got to the ropes at 9:30. Lawlor got a rear-naked choke, but Sabre got to the ropes. Sabre nailed the Michinoku Driver for a nearfall at 11:00. Lawlor nailed a jumping knee to the chin, then a spin kick to the head, then a running penalty kick for a nearfall.
Lawlor hit a tombstone piledriver. They traded rollup attempts. Lawlor hit an enzuigiri. Sabre hooked both arms and got the seatbelt rollup for the pin. Like the prior match, this was really good but I never doubted Sabre was winning here.
4. Tomohiro Ishii defeated El Desperado at 16:42. Riccaboni said these guys had an epic good match in 2020 with no fans in the building, with Ishii going over. NJPW generally stays away from singles matches between heavyweights and juniors, so this is an unusual treat. Desperado hit a shoulder tackle that didn’t move Ishii. Ishii hit one that dropped Desperado. Ishii hit some chops and was in charge. Desperado hit a back suplex at 4:30. Desperado hit some basement dropkicks on the left knee, and he applied a half-crab, and he went for the Stretch Muffler, but Ishii dove for the ropes.
Ishii hit a high back suplex, and they were both down. Ishii backed him in the corner and hit a series of chops and forearms. Desperado hit a brainbuster. Ishii hit a powerslam, then a powerbomb at 8:00. Desperado hit a spinebuster but Ishii popped back to his feet and hit a German Suplex; they both tried getting up but fell to the mat. They fought on the ropes in the corner, and Ishii nailed a second-rope superplex for a nearfall, and they were both down at 10:00.
Desperado hit a dragon screw leg whip and a dropkick to the knee, then a chop block on the knee. Desperado applied the Stretch Muffler leglock, and he hit a modified Blue Thunder Bomb, then went back to the Stretch Muffler, and he tied up Ishii’s arms too, but Ishii was able to twist free. Desperado hit more blows to the knee. Ishii hit a shoulder tackle at 13:00. Desperado hit a spear, and he set up for the Angels Wings, but Ishii avoided it. Ishii nailed a HARD headbutt that dropped Desperado. Ishii nailed a standing powerbomb for a believable nearfall.
Ishii hit a clothesline for a nearfall. Desperado trapped both arms and got a nearfall. Desperado hit the Angel’s Wings faceplant. He went for a second one but Ishii escaped. Ishii hit a second headbutt. Ishii hit an enzuigiri and a decapitating clothesline. Ishii nailed a brainbuster for the clean pin. That was really, really good.
5. Juice Robinson vs. Fred Rosser never started. Rosser had apparently invited Toni Storm (Juice’s wife) to come watch the match, and a ‘reserved seat’ for her was in the front row. Juice attacked Rosser on the entrance ramp, and he hit a piledriver on the stage. (I start my stopwatch at first contact). Juice whipped him with a belt. Juice hit a referee. They got in the ring, where Juice hit Rosser across the back several times with a steel chair. He flipped off the crowd and was loudly booed. Juice put a roll of coins in his hand and hit a “left hand of god” punch to the side of the head, with coins flying all over the ring. “You keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth,” Robinson shouted on the mic at the prone Rosser. The entire segment lasted about 6:00.
* Backstory: Sanada won the New Japan Cup tournament in March, immediately quit “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” and joined the “Just Five Guys” faction, then beat Kazuchika Okada to win the IWGP title. However, at this point, Sanada has not been in the ring yet with any of his former LIJ teammates. Alex Koslov said this is Naito’s first time in the U.S. since 2019.
6. “Just Five Guys” Sanada and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Tetsuya Naito and Hiromu Takahashi at 14:35. This is Kanemaru’s NJPW Strong debut. Sanada displayed his title belt. Kanemaru and Hiromu started. Hiromu applied a Figure Four at 3:00, but Kanemaru reached the ropes. Hiromu rolled to the floor, where Sanada raked the back. Veda wondered if this was “inevitable.” Sanada tied Hiromu in the Paradise Lock, then he kicked him in the butt to free Hiromu and got a nearfall.
Kanemaru applied a Camel Clutch. Hiromu and Sanada traded chops, and Hiromu hit a dragon screw leg whip. Naito finally tagged in at 8:30 and he hit a basement dropkick on Sanada’s back. Veda pointed out what I wrote above; this is Sanada’s first time in the ring against LIJ. Naito applied his leglock around Sanada’s head. Naito hit a standing neckbreaker, and they were both down at 11:30. Hiromu made the hot tag. Kanemaru and Sanada worked over Hiromu, with Kanemaru hitting a reverse DDT for a nearfall.
Hiromu hit a clothesline on Kanemaru for a nearfall at 13:00. Sanada hit a basement dropkick on Naito. Hiromu hit a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall on Kanemaru. Kanemaru rolled up Hiromu in the middle of the ring and got a clean pin! Koslov wondered if Kanemaru could win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title.
* A video package aired showing Kenta winning the New Japan Strong title from Fred Rosser. Eddie Edwards approached Kenta outside and challenged him to a match. It is their first match in the U.S. in 13 years.
7. Kenta defeated Eddie Edwards to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Title at 18:41. An intense lockup to begin; these two are both being presented as heels. Edwards’ mohawk is green tonight. Kenta hit a grazing Mafia Kick. Edwards hit a hard chop that sent Kenta to the floor to regroup, and they brawled on the floor. In the ring, Kenta hit some Yes Kicks at 3:00. Edwards hit a belly-to-belly overhead suplex. Kenta hit a DDT for a nearfall, then some stiff kicks to the back. Kenta hit a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall at 5:30. Eddie fired back with some hard chops.
Kenta nailed a powerslam, then a top-rope flying clothesline for a nearfall at 8:30. He applied an STF in the center of the ring, but Eddie reached the ropes. Eddie hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Eddie nailed a Backpack stunner for a nearfall at 10:30. Eddie mockingly did the “Go To Sleep” hand gesture and was loudly booed. He picked Kenta up, but Kenta escaped and hit a Mafia Kick. Kenta hit some Kawada Kicks to the face. Edwards nailed a decapitating clothesline, and they were both down at 12:00.
Kenta nailed a DDT as Edwards’ feet were on tied on the ropes. Kenta hit a Helluva Kick and a running dropkick in the corner, then a top-rope doublestomp to the chest for a believable nearfall. Kenta signaled for Go To Sleep; he tried to pick up Edwards, but Eddie fought free. Kenta him several openhand slaps to the side of the face. Kenta nailed a Shining Wizard for a nearfall at 14:30. Kenta dropped Eddie onto the ropes and hit a running knee to the back of the neck. Edwards nailed a Buckle Bomb, then a Tiger Driver for a believable nearfall.
Edwards nailed the Boston Knee Party (Shining Wizard) then a fisherman’s brainbuster for a nearfall at 16:00. Kenta slammed Edwards into the ref in the corner, knocking the ref down. Kenta hit a DDT, and everyone in the ring was down. Kenta rolled to ringside and grabbed his title belt. However, Edwards hit a superkick on Kenta. Eddie picked up the title belt and was booed; he swung it at Kenta, but Kenta hit a low blow uppercut. Kenta then hit Edwards in the forehead with the title belt. Kenta woke up the ref. Kenta hit the Go To Sleep kneestrike for the tainted pin.
* On the video screen, Hikuleo appeared, and he said Kenta is the only man in Bullet Club with gold. He challenged Kenta to a title match on May 3. Kenta got on the mic and said, “Hikuleo, let’s do it.” Alex Koslov called Kenta a champion with honor, which recoiled Veda. We then went to a video package showing the history of the NJ Strong tag titles.
8. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis defeated “Motor City Machine Guns” Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley and “The Dream Team” Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada in a three-way tag to win the New Japan Strong Openweight Tag Titles at 25:13. Shelley and Tanahashi opened and Tanahashi has a surprisingly noticeable height and size advantage. Fletcher tagged himself in, and he traded reversals with Sabin. Ian talked about Sabin “celebrating 20 years in Impact.” Okada tagged in at 2:30 and he worked over Kyle. Davis entered and battled Okada, with Okada hitting a DDT for a nearfall.
Okada and Tanahashi hit a team suplex on Sabin; Shelley jumped in but backed out rather than fight “the dream team.” Funny. Davis hit a double clothesline on the Guns at 6:30. Sabin hit an enzuigiri on Davis, and the Guns hit superkicks on him. Fletcher tagged in, but the MCMG stayed in control of the offense. Shelley twisted the wrist and fingers, with Kyle screaming in pain. Davis entered at 9:30 and he hit a senton Shelley, and he made a cocky cover for a nearfall. Davis worked over Shelley; Okada jumped in the ring, but Davis nailed a chop that sent Okada right back out of the ring. Funny. The AO worked held Shelley upside down before Fletcher finally dropped him for a nearfall.
Sabin made the hot tag at 13:00 and he hit a top-rope crossbody block on both AO, then a plancha onto both of the dream team. In the ring, Fletcher hit a brainbuster on Sabin, but he was too exhausted to do anything, so he tagged in Okada. Okada hit a flapjack on Sabin for a nearfall at 15:00. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Sabin tagged out to Davis, while Tanahashi replaced Okada. Tanahashi hit his second-rope summersault senton on Davis for a nearfall at 17:00, then a dropkick on Mark’s knee.
Tanahashi applied a Texas Cloverleaf on Davis. Shelley jumped in the ring and applied a Border City Stretch on Tanahashi. AO slammed the MCMG’s spines together, then they did the same to the dream team. In the ring, Kylle hit his assisted stunner on Tanahashi for a nearfall at 19:00. Okada hit a dropkick on Davis. Okada hit a top-rope elbowdrop on Davis; Tanahashi tried to hit a High Fly Flow frogsplash but Davis got his knees up to block it. Sabin dove between the ropes onto several opponents. Fletcher hit a top-rope moonsault to the floor, but landed his waist on the top of the guardrail at 22:00. OUCH. Fletcher got back in the ring to a nice pop.
Sabin hit a tornado DDT on Fletcher. The Guns hit a team swinging slam on Fletcher for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it. Sabin hit a stunner on Okada. The Guns hit their quick dream sequence offense on Tanahashi. Shelley went for a Sliced Bread #2 out of the corner, but Fletcher turned it inot a piledrifer! Davis hit a piledriver on Sabin! The AO hit front-and-back clotheslines on Sabin, then the Koryallis swinging slam on Sabin for the pin! New champs! Veda Scott said Fletcher easily could have been on the way to the hospital after that landing on the guardrail, and instead, he’s a tag champion.
* The crowd chanted “You deserve it!” Fletcher got on the mic and said “We know!” He said that was one hell of a main event, but he almost made sure he won’t have kids. He said they have two sets of title belts to prove they are the best team in the world. The crowd started chanting “FTR!” Fletcher responded, “That’s some bullshit right there.” He concluded by saying, “We run the world.”
Final Thoughts: That was one heck of a main event. The commentary crew didn’t point out that in their win last week, Fletcher did a top rope moonsault to the floor and sliced open his head early in the match. So, he went for one here and nearly cut himself in half. (He was partially caught on the way down, so it wasn’t the full weight of his body coming down on that guardrail, but still, it had to have hurt a lot!) Just a really good back-and-forth match, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if any team had won it. I’ll go with Ishii-Desperado for second best; yes, I love Ishii, but I fully was prepared for Desperado to win that one, too.
Heel-heel matches should generally be avoided, but Edwards and Kenta put together a good game plan here, beating the heck out of each other and avoiding doing spots where either were the underdog, trying to garner sympathy from the crowd. And of course, it makes sense that both tried to cheat to win in the end. That match earned third place.
Nothing wrong with the LIJ-J5G match, but I felt like it was a tease, as we didn’t really see much of Naito-Sanada yet. That’s still to come.