NJPW Windy City Riot results (4/12): Vetter’s in-person review of Tetsuya Naito vs. Jon Moxley for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Nic Nemeth vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Matt Riddle vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the NJPW TV Title


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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Windy City Riot”
April 12, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois at Wintrust Arena
Streamed live on NJPWworld.com Pay-Per-View

This was my first time at this venue. It seems nice, but there is a lack of nearby parking. I have read that 6,000 tickets were sold in advance but I would have estimated this closer to 4,500; the lower bowl and floor are sold out. The hard camera was actually set up in the concourse, so they didn’t lose any lower deck seating by creating an area for it. Walker Stewart, Veda Scott and Chris Charlton provided commentary. The sides of the floor only had two rows; they easily could have gotten another two or three. I was four rows in the lower deck (so six rows away from the ring.)

1. Matt Vandagriff defeated Zane Jay at 3:33. Zane is the brightest student at the New Japan dojo; I’ve seen him a couple times and I’ll compare him to Jordan Oliver in terms of build and overall appearance. They had a really fast-paced match to get a lot of offense in. Vandagriff hit a Styles Clash for the pin. Really good action for the time given.

2. Alex Windsor and Trish Adora defeated Viva Van and Mina Shirakawa at 7:03. No one really was a heel here and this was good back-and forth action. Windsor hit a swinging fisherman’s suplex to pin Van.

Rocky Romero hit the ring and thanked everyone for coming. He announced he is now vice president of talent (or some title like that) and he got a nice applause.

3. Ren Narita defeated Minoru Suzuki at 7:47. If you weren’t aware, these two were in the “Strong Style” faction together before Narita turned heel and joined the House of Torture. My kids joined in the “Murder Grandpa!” chant which warmed my heart; yes I let them skip a day of school to come with me. Minoru hit his series of forearms and he applied a sleeper; when the ref forced him to let it go, Suzuki lunged at the ref! However, Narita grabbed his push-up bar and struck Suzuki with it! He then hit an X-Factor face plant for the cheap pin.

4. Stephanie Vaquer defeated AZM at 10:50. My first time seeing both live; I’ve probably seen them each 3-5 times total. Very impressive work by both. Vaquer set up for a package piledriver, but she turned it into a backbreaker over her knee for the pin.

* Alex Windsor returned to the ring and challenged Vaquer to a future title match.

5. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls defeated El Phantasmo & Hikuleo and “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs and Tom Lawlor & Fred Rosser in a four-way to win the New Japan Strong Openweight Tag Titles at 9:55. ELP and Hikuleo were the champions entering the match. This was really fast-paced; they didn’t do much of beating down one person for an extended time. The main storyline here is that Nelson and Isaacs have been upset at their longtime teammate Lawlor. Early in the match, Lawlor and Isaacs were in the ring and were about to lock up but ELP made a blind tag, so we didn’t get to see it then. Hikuleo finally got in and hit some double clotheslines and double chokeslams; he really does tower over everyone. The finish came with Hikuleo hitting a chokeslam and ELP hitting his springboard frogsplash (their usual finishing combo) but Haste made a blind tag on ELP. Shane entered the ring, pushed ELP to the floor, made a jackknife cover, and pinned Jorel! New champions!

* After the match, the WCWCrew knocked Lawlor out and cut a significant amount of his hair off! They shoved the hair into Rosser’s mouth! Gross.

6. Shota Umino defeated Jack Perry at 15:04. This was just surreal. I didn’t expect the crowd reaction to be maybe 80% pro-Perry. The video this week turned what should have been a heated crowd into a supportive one. A kid at ringside kept holding up a “Justice for Jungle Boy!” sign and it received a pop. Perry came out with a Punk flag over his back. He turned around and removed it, so we could all see his jacket read “Cry Me A River” on the back. He had two security guards dressed in battle gear with shields join him to ringside. Cool visual. The crowd was so supportive, Perry wound up spraying fans with a water bottle to try and get some heat.

Early in the match, Shota did “arm waving” over his head, reminding us of the Jungle Boy gimmick; the crowd really failed to see the Jungle Boy theme song. The building came unglued when Perry hit a Punk-style running knee in the corner, then made the “Go To Sleep” gesture! However, Shota turned the GTS into a DDT! Shota then hit a Hidden Blade to the back of the head, then a Death Rider for the clean pin. They shook hands afterward, telling me their feud is over.

7. Mustafa Ali defeated Hiromu Takahashi at 15:08. Ali had six security guards dressed in “Men In Black”-style Secret Service tuxes to escort him to ring. Hiromu brought his stuffed cat, Darrell,” and they did some comedy with it early; Ali had the right facial expressions of being amused and annoyed. Late in the match, Ali hit a dive through the ropes to the floor and he came up with a bloody forehead. In most of his matches, Ali will charge at someone and crash head-first into the middle turnbuckle. He did that here and left a big red blood spatter on the NJPW corner pad. Ali hit his top-rope 450 Splash for the pin.

* The next match is four-on-four but only Gabe Kidd and Eddie Kingston were announced for their teams. Unsurprisingly, David Finlay and Clark Connors were on Kidd’s squad. I assumed his fourth would be Drilla Moloney, but it turned out to be Kenta, which got a pop. Eddie first introduced Jeff Cobb and TJP, but his last man was Homicide and that got a big pop.

8. “Bullet Club War Dogs” David Finlay, Gabe Kidd, Kenta, and Clark Connors defeated Eddie Kingston, Homicide, and “United Empire” TJP and Jeff Cobb in a street fight at 17:45. Homicide and Kidd brawled up the staircase just a few feet from me; they went into the concourse and brawled back down another flight of stairs. Connors put barbed wire over his head and headbutted TJP, I believe. Connors tried a spear on Cobb that Jeff no-sold; Connors got a full head of speed and hit a spear that knocked Jeff down. The finish came with Homicide setting up for the Cop Killah but another BCWD made the save, and they worked together to pin Homicide. Kingston and Kidd continued to jaw at each other and agreed to a future singles match.

9. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Matt Riddle to win the NJPW TV Title at 13:15. A reminder that TV Title matches have a 15-minute time-limit and I told my boys before it started that this was going to a draw. I was NOT expecting the massive boos for Riddle; this crowd hated him and I heard some “child support!” chants and stuff like that. Sabre absolutely dominated him and kept him tied up on the mat, and I really thought Riddle was going to ride out the 15-minute time limit. We had a time announcement at 12, and again at 13. Sabre got a Crucifix Driver out of nowhere for the pin! New champion!

* Sabre got on the mic and celebrated with the belt. Jeff Cobb came to the ring and issued a challenge.

10. Nic Nemeth defeated Tomohiro Ishii at 14:05. This was absolutely great stuff. They traded forearm strikes and Ishii kicked out at one a few times. Nemeth won with the Danger Zone (Zig-Zag) jumping inverted DDT. Great action but I really never thought Ishii was winning here.

11. Jon Moxley defeated Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at 20:20. This was incredible. Naito took FOREVER to remove his jacket and pants, as Moxley was pacing back-and-forth, absolutely annoyed with him. They of course did a spot where Naito hit him with a chairshot, Moxley’s head vanished under the ring, and when he stood up, he was HEAVILY bleeding. I don’t go to death match shows, so this is the most blood I’ve seen live in a LONG time. It really was gross but I admit it added to the intensity of the match.

Naito’s first Destino attempt was blocked. Naito hit a Destino for a nearfall. Moxley hit a Death Rider/double-arm DDT for a nearfall. Naito’s next Destino attempt was blocked. Moxley hit a SECOND Death Rider for an absolutely close nearfall. So, moments later, Moxley hit a THIRD Death Rider and you just could sense it… and sure enough, the ref’s arm fell a third time without a kickout! The building exploded for the title change.

* Moxley got on the mic and thanked the fans and he said he was offering his first title defense to Shota Umino! However, Ren Narita attacked him with his push-up bar. Shota ran to the ring and helped chase Narita off. Moxley got on the mic and said, “Narita, you just went from a Young Boy to a Dead Man.” Good closing segment.

Final Thoughts: As I type this at 1 a.m. in my hotel in southern Wisconsin, I have absolutely no regrets about making a five-ish-hour drive to go to this show. The world title change was a blast to witness live, and I really didn’t expect it at all; I figured some type of outside interference would cost Moxley. That takes best match, and I will go with Ishii-Nemeth for second, and Shota-Perry for third. As I noted, I just didn’t expect that pop for Perry. One group of fans tried to start a “You were choked out!” chant, and a louder group chanted back, “No he wasn’t!” The crowd wasn’t booing Shota, but this was just a night you couldn’t take your eyes off Perry, and you could sense he really wasn’t sure how to keep the fans against him. So in this sense, airing the footage on AEW might really derail his “Scapegoat” gimmick before it really got going.

The show’s first match started promptly at 6:30 p.m. and the show ended close to 11 p.m. CST, so it was a LONG event but it certainly didn’t drag and we sure got a heavy dose of the top NJPW stars. That’s pretty good considering the other half of the roster is doing a show in Taiwan on Sunday.


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