wrestling / TV Reports

Cazer’s NJPW on AXS Review 1.20.22

January 20, 2022 | Posted by Andrew Cazer
Kenny Omega NJPW Image Credit: NJPW
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Cazer’s NJPW on AXS Review 1.20.22  

During this years yearly New Japan Wrestle Kingdom event in the Tokyo Dome on January 4th NJPW announced their return to AXS tv in America. They announced the return would begin in late January with new episodes beginning in March. New episodes will air beginning on March 3rd but until then they will air six of the best episodes from NJPWs initial AXS tv run. The first episode features matches from NJPWs Wrestle Kingdom 12 event in 2018. This show features Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho squaring off for the New Japan US championship well before their days in AEW.

This will be my first time really diving into these NJPW on AXS shows. I was a big New Japan fan when these first aired but often saw the shows well before they’d air on AXS. Now I’m not as tuned in to what’s going on in New Japan because a lot of the talent I watched for are now in the US. That said i’m really excited to get a six week recap and then start reacquainting myself with NJPW. Especially when our first show is one of the biggest Wrestle Kingdom Main Events for American viewers in the history of their shows.

– We get a recap of the history between Jericho and Kenny. It’s awesome to see both of these guys back then and know what’s changed since then. Kenny really was in a world of his own at this time and these two were literally breaking ground well before any forbidden doors were around. We see Jericho dropping Kenny with the NJPW US Heavyweight championship belt and Kenny sulking in the press conference after. This feud was so damn good. I think that Jericho was seriously underrated at this time. He was viewed as a legend but the painmaker gimmick was always looked at as a bit of a joke but he more than delivered leading up to this.

NJPW US Heavyweight Championship – No DQ
Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega

We have Jim Ross and Josh Barnett on commentary as Jericho and Kenny make their extravagant entrances. It’s amazing how the world changes in four years, Wrestle Kingdom the past few years has lacked this energy for sometime due to covid so this is fun. Kenny Omega comes out dressed as Osiris from Destiny 2 complete with a vigilant wing. Kenny’s Wrestle Kingdom entrances were something special I wonder why we haven’t gotten a grand Kenny entrance in AEW.

Jericho attacks Kenny ahead of the match and the young boys separate them to get this started properly. Jericho tells them to get the hell out and get this match started. They waste no time and lay into each other early. You would think these guys had wrestled dozens of times with the heat this one started off with. Kenny takes control early but Jericho uses the referee to get some distance between himself and Kenny and take the upper hand. Jericho looks younger in the face but his body is probably in better condition today than at this time. Jericho with complete disregard for the referees count but Josh Alexander reminds us this is no disqualification. It’s such a different visual to see all the cameras at ringside taking photos of the wrestlers it makes it have a more professional feel. We are only three minutes into this one and Kenny Omega goes for a springboard to Jericho on the outside but Jericho moves sending Kenny right through a table. Kenny writhes in pain as we go to commercial.

We get a replay of Kenny taking a dive to the outside as Jericho tosses some chairs around outside the ring. Jericho screams out his really goofy alpha taunt, I completely forgot about the Alpha vs. Omega story to this. Kenny climbs the outside scaffolding and jumps down onto a table he set on Jericho. Kenny’s bleeding from the mouth but i have no idea why, probably bit his lip on the dive I’d guess. Jericho with a suplex outside and the referee gets to a count of 19. We can hear Don Callis yelling on the New Japan World commentary in the background that’s hilarious to me. Kenny looks for a springboard and Jericho catches him on the top rope with a springboard leg drop to the knee damn! These two seriously do so well together I forgot just how good this match was. I love how this is no disqualification but the referee is so against them using weapons. Kenny gets powerbombed right onto the mat outside and that looked like it hurt like hell. Jericho takes someone’s camera and takes some exclusive shots of Kenny and his middle finger, I’d love to see those pictures. Jericho in control now as they get back into the ring, that powerbomb has completely taken everything out of Kenny. Kenny fires up and lays into Jericho but is stopped in his tracks with a back elbow from Jericho, early days of the Judas effect. Kenny with a HUGE dive to the outside taking out himself and Jericho as we go to break again. Kenny is going through hell in this one but it’s resulting in a stellar match.

Back from commercial and Kenny seems to have turned this one around dropping Jericho with a bulldog. Jim Ross says this match is bigger than the US championship and there’s no question about that, it’s odd that this match was likely intended to elevate that championship but it merely felt like an afterthought. It was only four years ago and it’s not as though Jericho has regressed massively but damn was he still so smooth in 2018. Kenny with the cold spray and it’s amazing Kenny and the Bucks have made something so simple a part of their gimmick for years. Kenny shoves red shoes into Kenny and it’s a devastating shove as Red Shoes slowly crumbles to the ground. Jericho selling the hell out of the cold spray is great, but having seen it basically no sold countless times in AEW its hard to take serious here. Red Shoes is back to his feet and fine thankfully. Jericho is again in control and he’s probably controlled 60-70% of this match. Kenny is slammed head first into the chair and Jim Ross describes the noise as disgusting and I can’t disagree that sounded sick. Kenny’s bleeding and runs into another back elbow from Jericho another Judas effect before it was the big move it is now. This is classic Kenny Omega, in peril and the crowd willing him to fight through all the adversity I love this stuff. The blood is slowly starting to cover Kenny’s head and its weird to say but it’s nice when it’s a slow leak rather than a bloody mess early. Jericho DOMES Kenny with a chair shot and BOY that was a hell of a hit sending the chair flying into pieces as we go to break.

Back from commercial and Jericho’s laying into Kenny with what’s left of these chairs. Jericho with a shot to the back with the chair from the middle rope damn. The frame of that chair seems to be more painful than a traditional chair if you ask me. Kenny with a dropkick to Jericho on the rope and he starts to move down and gets hit with a vtrigger to the outside. Jericho’s got a mark above his left eye and Jim Ross calls this one bowling shoe ugly. Kenny’s starting to regain control of this one laying into Jericho with a series of V triggers dropping Jericho with the last one. Kenny hits the double under hook piledriver, I don’t think I see Kenny do that so much but it’s a pretty sweet move. They show the US title belt and despite it never feeling that important to me this match did do a lot to help give it some prestige. Kenny with ANOTHER v trigger right to the jaw of Jericho. Jericho with the roll through on the one winged angel into the Walls of Jericho. That was a sick SMOOTH ass reversal/transition. Jericho’s bleeding from the mouth too you can tell this was a stiff brawl. I love how red shoes gets right in the face of the competitor to hear if they submit but it’s not great for the view. Kenny grabs on to red shoes and uses him to pull himself to the ropes for a rope break. Jim Ross sends us to commercial as Jericho breaks the hold.

Back from break again and Kenny reverses the codebreaker and hits Jericho with back to back v triggers again. Kenny with the one winged angel and covers but is forced to break at two when Jericho grabs the bottom rope! Man that is such a beautiful near fall, I’ve seen it a time or two now but this may have been one of the first times we saw someone at least get a rope break on such a protected finish. These two have gone thirty plus and continue to deliver with big moments through the end. One thing i’ve noticed is a majority of Kenny’s offense at this time was around variations of the vtrigger. Jericho hits a codebreaker and the reaction red shoes had sold it so damn good, he was pushing Jericho to make the cover and get the victory but he just didn’t have the energy to make it. Jericho tells Kenny to stay down and starts slamming the chair into him again. This is great storytelling of Jericho trying so hard to put this young stud away. Jericho goes for the lionsault but Kenny hits him with the chair and catches him in the one winged angel position. Kenny positions himself over the chair and drops Jericho back first onto the chair with the one winged angel completely away from the ropes. Kenny covers and gets the victory in 41:12 with commercials. (Wikipedia says this went 34:36 so do with that what you will.)
Rating: *****
Review: It’s hard to disagree with the traditional review of this match right. It’s almost universally regarded as a five star classic and I agree with that sentiment entirely. This match aged well and the storyline even better. These two had a great story built up between the two even though the marketing of Alpha vs. Omega made me cringe. The match itself was paced wonderfully with Jericho taking control early off the powerbomb outside but Kenny fighting back only to again start to lose ground to Jericho. Then Kenny comes back in the end and maintains control after sending Jericho through the table outside. I’m probably wrong but Jericho getting the rope break off the one winged angel was such a wild spot back then and even now it’s fun to see. I don’t think it’s been overdone by any means but the first few times you saw it, or anytime you see it live it’s a special moment. From start to finish these guys killed it, Jericho is still good but he was on another level in 2018. Kenny’s still one of the best in the world and likely has improved a fair share since this match but even with the vtrigger being used to much his storytelling and consistency is bar none at this time and I really only noticed it and felt it may have been ‘over used’ because now Kenny rarely does it and it’s just overused in general. This is a match that you can easily put on as a full show and know people will tune in and enjoy what they get even if it was taped four months ago.

– Jim Ross thanks us on behalf of himself and Josh Barnett and we are done for tonight. That was a hell of a throwback episode as it featured one of THE MATCHES that really inspired AEW. Without that match its hard to think of AEW as a potential thing. This would’ve been a match I saw well before it hit AXS though as the turnaround was not the best back then, I hope that’s something we see improved in the new iteration of NJPW on AXS. Overall you can’t call this episode anything but amazing because all it featured was a damn good match and that’s it.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
I like my wrestling with angles, interviews and storytelling. These NJPW on AXS shows feature awesome matches with phenomenal talent no question about it. However they always feel like highlights or parts of a bigger picture because that's what they are. You don't get the build up to the matches just the video package and the match itself. That's not a bad thing at all I just need a little more from this episode to make it a 10/10. If you're basing it just off the match absolutely it's perfect but in the full scope I wish we had a little something else even if it was just a small interview to feature another talent or something before or after the match. That's really nit picky though, if you consider it a 10/10 even though its a one match show with nothing around it I don't blame you at all. I'm looking forward to see what other matches they choose to highlight and what shows they'll be showing in March.

article topics :

NJPW on AXS TV, Andrew Cazer