By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
NJPW “Royal Quest III”
October 14, 2023 in London, England at Copper Box Arena
Streamed on New Japan World
There was a large crowd of maybe 1,500, but there were some fairly empty areas in the second deck. Chris Charlton and Gideon Grey provided commentary. I don’t think I’ve heard heel Gideon in the booth before; I have seen him as manager for the United Empire. The lighting was good. If anything, the wrestlers were bathed in white light.
1. Taiji Ishimori defeated Robbie X at 7:46. Charlton acknowledged that there was speculation that Ishimori was the surprise new member of Just 5 Guys; this is Ishimori’s first match since he was injured last spring. Robbie is the short, bald, talented high-flyer; think Alan Angels. They traded quick reversals and Ishimori looks great. Robbie hit a plancha to the floor at 1:30. In the ring, Ishimori hit some elbow strikes to the side of the head. Ishimori hit his sliding German Suplex in the ropes at 5:30.
In the ring, Robbie hit a springboard summersault for a nearfall. Robbie went for a handspring-back-move but Ishimori caught him with a dropkick while he was upside down. Ishimori hit a swinging neckbreaker over his knee, then the Bloody Cross faceplant over his knee for the pin. That was good stuff for the time given. Really happy to see Ishimori back and looking healthy. Charlton said it was Ishimori’s first match in UK since 2011.
2. El Desperado defeated Trent Seven at 8:15. Charlton talked about Desperado and Master Wato teaming up for Junior Tag League. “Everyone is excited about the teaming except for Desperado,” Charlton said. They each got a chair before the bell. They brawled on the floor, and Seven slammed Desperado’s head onto a table at 2:00. In the ring, Seven took control. He ripped at Desperado’s mask, which ticked Desperado off. Seven hit a series of chops. Desperado hit a dive through the ropes. He dragged Seven into the ring, and hit a brainbuster for a nearfall at 6:00.
Seven nailed a piledriver for a believable nearfall. Seven missed a top-rope twisting moonsault. Desperado hit a spear. Seven pushed Desperado into the referee. Seven hit a low blow punt kick, then a swinging Bulldog Powerslam for a believable nearfall at 7:30. Seven was irate. Desperado hooked both arms and got a mousetrap cover for the pin. Good match. Starting to feel like all the NJPW roster is going to beat the UK roster, though.
3. Yota Tsuji defeated Luke Jacobs at 8:57. Jacobs is a younger version of William Regal with a really thick body; he’s not fat but just really broad, and I’ve always been impressed with him. Charlton said that those who haven’t seen Jacobs wrestle before “are in for a treat.” An intense lockup to open, and they immediately switched to a lengthy exchange of forearm shots. Yota hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee at 3:30. Jacobs hit a vertical suplex and they were both down. Jacobs hit some hard headbutts at 6:30 and a rolling forearm. Jacobs nailed a second-rope superplex then a decapitating clothesline for a believable nearfall at 8:00. Tsuji hit a running Stomp, then a hard spear for the pin. I wish that had been given twice the length of time.
4. “Bullet Club War Dogs” Clark Connors and Dan Moloney defeated Leon Slater and Cameron Khai to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles at 12:12. I always say Slater is the Black, British version of Nick Wayne because they are the same age with the same talent level and body size; think a taller Lio Rush. I don’t think I’ve seen Khai before; like Slater, he is 17 and looks like Carmelo Hayes. They all immediately brawled to the floor. The youngsters began working over Moloney’s left arm. Connors hit a Pounce on Khai at 2:30 and they took over, keeping Khai in their corner. Gideon Grey, a heel, talked about how much he hates Moloney, as Dan turned on the United Empire a few months ago when he joined the Bullet Club.
Clark yanked Leon off the apron so Khai couldn’t tag out. Clark hit a snap suplex at 6:00. Khai hit a Death Valley Driver on Clark and they were both down. Slater made the hot tag and traded forearms with Moloney. Khai hit a pair of Northern Lights Suplex, then a DOUBLE Northern Lights Suplex. Slater hit a top-rope crossbody block on both at 9:00. Moloney hit a superkick on Khai; he popped Khai up and Connors hit a spear. The BCWD hit a hi-lo spear combo on Khai. Slater hit an impressive flip dive over a ring post onto Connors on the floor at 11:00. In the ring, Khai hit a slingshot stunner. Slater went to the top rope but Connors crotched him. Moloney hit a piledriver on Slater. He then held Khai upside down, allowing Connors to hit a spear on Khai’s unprotected waist for the pin. Good match. The NJPW roster is now 4-0 against the British talent.
5. El Phantasmo and “Guerrillas of Destiny” Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa defeated “Bullet Club War Dogs” David Finlay, Gabe Kidd, and Alex Coughlin (w/Gedo) at 11:23. The BCWD came out first, and Charlton said Kidd and Coughlin were livid after losing their tag titles last week. They all started brawling in the aisle. ELP and Kidd got in the ring so the ref called for the bell to begin the match, and Phantasmo hit a huracanrana. Tanga Loa entered at 2:00 and battled Coughlin. The BCWD worked Loa over in their corner. Tama finally jumped in the ring at 8:30 and hit a series of punches on Finlay.
Tama hit a double clothesline and he ripped off his vest, then hit Stinger Splashes on Kidd, then Coughlin. ELP hit a top-rope crossbody block. Tama and ELP hit stereo dropkicks. Loa hit a double clotheslien to the floor. Tama hit a dive to the floor. ELP hit a top-rope moonsault to the floor onto two guys at 10:00. In the ring, Tama hit a Gun Stun, and the GoD surrounded Finlay! Loa hit a Rikishi Driver to pin Finlay! Good match.
6. Shota Umino and Ren Narita defeated “United Empire” Great-O-Khan and Francesco Akira at 10:27. Gideon Grey went nuts for his praise of UE which was over the top and hilarious. Much like how Desperado and Master Wato are going to now team up for Junior Tag League, rivals Umino and Narita are “setting their differences aside” and teaming up. GOK and Umino opened. O-Khan hit his Mongolian Chops on Narita at 2:30. The UE worked over Narita in their corner. O-Khan hit a gut-wrench suplex. Umino tagged in at 5:30 and he hit a flying forearm on O-Khan. Umino hit a Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall.
Akira hit a slingshot stunner on Shota for a nearfall at 7:30. Ren and Shota hit a Hart Attack clothesline on Akira. O-Khan hit more Mongolian Chops on Umino. Umino and Ren hit stereo enzuigiris on O-Khan. Shota hit a running neckbreaker on Akira for a nearfall at 10:00. Shota nailed a running diving elbow to the back of the head, then the Death Rider double-arm DDT to pin Akira. Good match but it didn’t retain the crowd heat. O-Khan and Ren kept brawling on the floor after the bell.
7. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Tetsuya Naito and Bushi defeated “Just 5 Guys” Sanada and Douki at 9:28. Sanada and Naito opened. Douki jumped in the ring and attacked Sanada from behind. Bushi entered at 3:00 and traded blows with Douki. Naito tugged backward on Douki’s mask. Sanada re-entered and hit a dropkick on Naito at 5:00. Sanada tied Naito in the Paradise Lock and got booed! Naito spit on Sanada and they traded forearm shots. Sanada placed Naito’s feet on the top rope and hit the Magic Screw/twisting neckbreaker at 7:30. Douki hit a doublestomp to the stomach, then he applied the ‘Douki Chokey’ Triangle Choke on Naito. The fans chanted “Douki chokey!” and Gideon was livid at the stupidity of it. Funny. Bushi hit a Lungblower on Douki, and Naito hit a DDT on Douki. Bushi nailed a dive to the floor on Sanada. That allowed Naito to hit the Destino to pin Douki. Fun match, and the commentary is really adding a lot.
8. Eddie Kingston and Michael Oku and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated “United Empire” TJP and Henare and Jeff Cobb at 10:19. Oku is a thin Black man who is a top-tier talent. TJP and Tanahashi opened. TJP snapped Tanahashi’s left arm backward at 3:00. Henare entered and worked over Hiroshi. Cobb bent Tanahashi backward and ‘played guitar’ on his ribs, drawing boos. Funny. Kingston entered at 5:30 and traded chops with Henare. Kingston hit his rapid-fire chops in the corner, then a T-Bone Suplex. Oku entered at 7:30 and hit a Fosbury Flop to the floor on Cobb. Oku hit a top-rope crossbody block on TJP, then he put TJP in the half-crab.
Cobb hit the Spin Cycle on Oku, and TJP hit a Mamba Splash frogsplash on Oku. TJP caught Oku with a spin kick to the face, so Oku hit an enzuigiri on TJP. Tanahashi hit a Sling Blade clothesline on Cobb. Kingston hit an enzuigiri on TJP. Oku accidentally hit a jumping knee on Kingston at 10:00! TJP tried to apply an Octopus on Oku, but Oku escaped and rolled up TJP for the pin. Good action.
9. Shingo Takagi defeated Tomohiro Ishii at 21:23. An intense lockup to open. They switched to a lengthy forearm exchange. Takagi applied a leglock around the waist as they fought on the mat. Ishii hit a powerslam at 4:30. Shingo hit a DDT and they were both down. Shingo hit a stiff kick to the spine at 7:30 and Ishii was livid, with the fans chanting “you f–ked up!” at Shingo. Ishii no-sold some forearms. Ishii hit his own kick to the spine. Shingo got up and hit a forearm shot that dropped Ishii. Shingo hit a back suplex and a sliding clothesline. Shingo hit a top-rope superplex for a nearfall at 10:00 and they were both down, with the crowd chanting “Fight forever!”
Ishii hit a back suplex. Shingo hit a Northern Lights Suplex. They traded Saito Suplexes. They hit simultaneous clotheslines. Ishii hit another back suplex and they both collapsed and were down at 12:00. Ishii hit a second-rope superplex for a nearfall. Shingo hit a decapitating clothesline then the Made in Japan flipping powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 15:00. “As close as you can get,” Charlton said. They traded more forearms, collided heads, and were both down again at 17:30.
Shingo hit a Death Valley Driver then a devastating Pumping Bomber clothesline for a believable nearfall. Shingo hit a brainbuster but Ishii popped up at the one-count. Ishii hit a sliding clothesline and he set up for a brainbuster, but Shingo escaped and hit a Dragon Suplex. Shingo finally hit the Last of the Dragon powerbomb off his shoulders for the pin. That was every bit as fantastic as you expected it to be.
* Tama Tonga walked to ringside, holding his NEVER Openweight title. Tama and Shingo had a memorable 20-minute time-limit draw during the G1 Climax tournament a few months ago. Tama offered Shingo a title shot. Shingo said yes, and he added it would take place in Las Vegas on Oct. 28!
10. Will Ospreay defeated Zack Sabre Jr. to retain the IWGP UK Title at 31:16. A great pop for both men. Sabre’s TV Title (which has a 15-minute time limit) is not on the line. Sabre is 6-3 all time in singles matches, Charlton said. Standing switches and a feeling-out process to open. They avoided each other’s big moves and the crowd chanted “This is wrestling!” Sabre snapped Ospreay’s left arm at 3:30. Sabre grounded Ospreay with a cravat. Ospreay hit a headscissors takedown at 5:30. Sabre hit a forearm that dropped Ospreay. Sabre tied up Ospreay on the mat as we reached the 10:00 mark, right on with my clock.
Ospreay went for a handspring-back-spin kick, but Sabre caught the foot and applied a leglock. Nice. Ospreay hit an enzuigiri, then a handspring-back-kick and they were both down. Ospreay nailed a springboard flying forearm for a nearfall at 13:00. Sabre applied a rear-naked choke. Moments later, Sabre applied a leglock around the neck and Ospreay scrambled to the ropes at 15:00. Ospreay hit a Helluva Kick in the corner. He trapped Sabre’s head in the corner and hit kicks to the jaw. Ospreay hit a top-rope forearm strike to the base of the neck. Ospreay nailed a top-rope corkscrew press to the floor at 18:30. In the ring, Ospreay hit a Falcon Arrow, then a top-rope twisting splash for a nearfall.
Sabre stomped on Ospreay’s left elbow, and he immediately tied it in the ropes and kicked at it. Ospreay hit a mid-ring Spanish Fly for a nearfall at 20:30. Sabre hit a series of European Uppercuts that dropped Ospreay. Sabre nailed a Tiger Driver powerbomb for a nearfall at 23:30. Ospreay went for an OsCutter, but Sabre caught an arm and turned it into a cross-armbreaker! Nice. Ospreay hit a powerbomb to escape. Ospreay hit the OsCutter for a nearfall, then the Hidden Blade to the jaw, then the Stormbreaker spinning slam off his shoulders for a believable nearfall at 25:00.
They fought on the top rope, and Sabre hit a cross-armbreaker to the mat! He turned it into a modified Rings of Saturn double armbar. Sabre hit a Zack Driver for a believable nearfall at 27:30. Ospreay leapt off the top ropes and hit an OsCutter, but he couldn’t get a second Stormbreaker. Ospreay hit a Trash Compactor piledriver along his back but Sabre immediately kicked out. Sabre again applied a cross-armbreaker. Ospreay hit a Hidden Blade to the back of the head, then the Stormbreaker for the pin. Fantastic stuff.
* Ospreay got on the mic and boasted about being the best. He made an open challenge, which was answered by Shota Umino. They agreed to a future matchup.
Final Thoughts: Two stellar matches to close out the show. Stellar. I’ll leave it to others how many stars” each match earned, but I think both were dang-near perfect. I loved how Sabre was able to counter so many of Ospreay’s key moves with some armbars, but ultimately, still fell to the Hidden Blade. I’ll go with a very good Tsuji-Jacobs match for a distant third place.