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Csonka’s NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2018 Review

September 30, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
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Csonka’s NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2018 Review  

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NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2018

– Jushin Liger, ACH, & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Rocky Romero & 3k @ 9:05 via pin [***¼]
– Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian defeated Chase Owens & Adam Page @ 8:15 via pin [***]
– Flip Gordon, Chris Sabin, & Jeff Cobb defeated Hirooki Goto, Chuckie T, & Trent @ 12:05 via pin [***½]
– Zack Sabre Jr, Lance Archer, & Davey Boy Smith Jr defeated EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito @ 9:40 via pin [**¾]
– Jay White & Gedo defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA @ 8:55 via pin [**¾]
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Tournament Match: Marty Scurll defeated Will Ospreay @ 16:11 via pin [****½]
IWGP Tag Team Title Match: The Guerrillas of Destiny defeated Champions The Young Bucks @ 19:25 via pin [****]
IWGP US Title Match: Cody defeated Champion Juice Robinson @ 17:00 via pin [***½]
– The Golden Lovers defeated Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada @ 23:05 via pin [****½]

– Follow all of my reviews at this link.

– I did a column, “Where Are They Now, The Cruiserweight Classic Finals Performers” which you can check out at this link.

– You can check out my top 51 matches of AUGUST list at this link.

– Read my full preview at this link.

Rocky Romero, Sho, & Yoh vs. Jushin Liger, ACH, & Ryusuke Taguchi: Liger & Yoh to begin. They lockup and work to the ropes; Liger works a side headlock, but Yoh escapees and hits a dropkick. JR already has Yoh & Sho mixed up. Liger cuts off Yoh and locks on the Romero special. Taguchi & ACH in to cut off the others with ankle locks. They isolate Yoh and work corner attacks, Taguchi calls the plays, and follows with an ass attack. Yoh fights back and slams Liger into Taguchi’s ass. Romero and 3k take control, Sho tags in and 3k work double teams and Romero tags in. They isolate Liger, but Sho ends up knocking Romero to the floor and Liger makes the comeback. Tag to ACH and he runs wild and hits a plancha onto Romero. Back in and he works over 3k. Chops follow to Sho, and ACH hits the dead lift German for 2. Sho now fights him off, and he hits the German and tags in Romero. Taguchi also in and he misses an ass attack. Romero hits forever clotheslines, but Taguchi finally hits ass attacks for all. Taguchi runs wild, avoids dropkicks, and lays in rights to all three, but gets cut off and3k now triple teams him and Romero covers for 2. ACH makes the save and hits a suicide dive. Taguchi hits dodon and picks up the win on Romero. Jushin Liger, ACH, & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Rocky Romero & 3k @ 9:05 via pin [***¼] This was a good and tremendously fun opener with an invested crowd. I’d expect Taguchi & ACH as part of the junior tag tournament. This was a strong way to kick off the show.

Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. Chase Owens & Adam Page: Daniels has his right leg wrapped up following Friday’s ROH Death Before Dishonor PPV. Kaz and Page start us off, renewing an old rivalry. They work into some back and forth, and then trade strikes going crazy fists. They now trade clotheslines and Owens and Daniels tag in. Daniels attacks right away, but Owens cuts him off with kicks and a neck breaker. Daniels stops that and tags in Kaz for a series of double teams, and Kaz covers for 2. The crowd is into Daniels & Kaz here, Page with a cheap shot allows Owens to hit a neck breaker combo and Page tags in and hits the dropsault into a cover for 2. He lays the boots to Kaz, tags in Owens and he also lays the boots to Kaz. The side back breaker follows for 2. Bullet Club follows with double teams, and hits the pump handle press on Kaz for 2. Owens grounds Kaz, but Kaz fights to his feet and hits the back stabber. Tag to Daniels and Daniels runs wild with strike son both opponents, the STO on Page follows and then hits a uranage/inverted DDT combo. The urange on Owens follows but Owens gets a cradle to stop the BME. Page in with the buckshot lariat to cut of Daniels and Owens covers for 2. Page takes Kaz to the floor and the apron shooting star press is countered by the knees. Back in and Owens gets double teamed and the best Meltzer ever finishes Owens. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian defeated Chase Owens & Adam Page @ 8:15 via pin [***] Both teams are likely for the WTL coming up soon. This was a basic, but smartly worked tag match that allowed everyone some time to shine; good stuff and the crowd was hot again for the match.

Hirooki Goto, Chuckie T, & Trent vs. Flip Gordon, Chris Sabin, & Jeff Cobb: Sabin and Chuckie to begin. They lock up, working into some counters, and Chuckie gets the cradle for 2. Sabin and Chuckie trade strikes, and it breaks down and Trent & Goto are tossed. Team Cobb runs wild working over Chuckie, and Flip hits a running shooting star press and Sabin follows with a cradle for 2. CHAOS now cuts off Sabin, and then hit Flip with the lawn dart cutter and Cobb cuts off the hug. Goto takes him to the floor and Sabin hits him with an apron PK. Trent and Chuckie hug and dump flip, they then follow with stereo topes. Back in and Trent & Chuckie work over Sabin, and Chuckie hits the slow motion senton atomico. Goto tags in and maintains control on Sabin, hits an elbow drop and covers for 2. Trent back in and hits a northern lights suplex for 2. He and Sabin trade chops, Chuckie tags back in and rakes the eyes of Sabin. Trent & Chuckie look for double teams, but Sabin runs them together and follows with a tornado DDT. Tag to Flip and he runs wild with kicks and dropkicks. The step up dive follows and back in the high cross gets 2. Trent fights back but Flip hits the springboard sling blade but runs into a knee strike from Trent. Tags to Goto and Cobb and we have a hoss fight. Cobb fires up and misses a charge, they trade clotheslines and Goto takes him down. Goto hits the corner spin kick and Saito suplex for 2. Cobb fights off ushigoroshi, and hits the suplex. He then misses the standing moonsault. Goto hits a big lariat for the double down. Chuckie tags in and looks for a suplex, Trent into help and they suplex Cobb. Cobb runs them together and suplexes both with ease. Trent & Chuckie battle back with double teams and Chuckie piledrives Cobb and Sabin & Flip make the save. It breaks down, Chuckie misses the moonsault and eats a lariat. The tour of the islands finishes him. Flip Gordon, Chris Sabin, & Jeff Cobb defeated Hirooki Goto, Chuckie T, & Trent @ 12:05 via pin [***½] Things are not well for CHAOS as they take the loss here. This was a very good tag match with Cobb & the Best Friends really shining here. It was all action with a great pace that never let down. The crowd was great again here, adding a ton to the show. Flip & Sabin look like another potential Junior tag league team.

– They tease a Cobb vs. Goto match afterwards as the first hour comes to a close.

Zack Sabre Jr, Lance Archer, & Davey Boy Smith Jr vs. EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito: Io Shirai & Kairi Sane are in attendance, cheeping on Naito. In a shocking turn of events, Suzuki-gun attacks before the bell and takes control. Zack works over EVIL until SANADA tags in, and they work into some back and forth until Smith tags in and lays the boots to SANADA. Smith takes Naito to the floor and kicks his ass. Archer works over SANADA, hitting clotheslines and Smith tags back in and works a death lock on SANADA. SANADA escapes, fires back with chops but Smith hits rolling Germans until SANADA back flips out and hits a missile dropkick. He fights off Archer and tags in Naito. Naito runs wild and then hits the corner dropkick combo on Zack. The neck breaker follows, and the enziguri follows, but Smith cuts that off with a belly to belly. KES take out EVIL and double team Naito, covering for 2. Naito fights of the killer bomb, and hits a tornado DDT. Wholesale changes to EVIL & Zack; they trade strikes, and light each other up until EVIL hits the senton. Zack cuts off the lariat, locks on the hanging kimura but EVIL powers out into a suplex. SANADA in and clears out Smith & Archer. Naito back in and they triple team Zack. SANADA hits a plancha, but Zack now counters everything is evil but EVIL hits darkness falls for 2. Zack now counters intro a clutch pin and pins EVIL again! Zack Sabre Jr, Lance Archer, & Davey Boy Smith Jr defeated EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito @ 9:40 via pin [**¾] The LIJ vs. Suzuki-gun dynamic is really played out, but this was pretty good overall and continued the Sabre vs. EVIL feud.

– Sad EVIL is sad post match.

Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA vs. Gedo & Jay White: No trunks for Gedo here, he’s wearing jeans and a shirt with taped up fists. The Ace isn’t fucking around and attacks at the bell and brawls with White to the floor. Back in and Tanahashi hits dragon screws but White cuts of the high cross and dumps him to the floor. White chokes him out with cables and follows with chops. Back in and White hits suplexes and covers for 2. Gedo tags in and works a sleeper. An eye poke follows as Gedo maintains control. White tags back in and continues the punishment and covers for 2. Gedo back in and lays in body shots until Tanahashi cuts him off with a high cross. Tag to KUSHIDA and KUSHIDA in and runs wild on both, enziguri to Gedo and he hits the cartwheel dropkick combo. KUSHIDA with the rolling DDT and transitions to the arm bar. The hover board lock follows, but White makes the save. White tags himself in but KUSHIDA hits the back handspring elbow. Tag to Tanahashi, he works over White, but White cuts off sling blade, but Tanahashi counters into twist and shout. Sling blade follows for 2. KUSHIDA takes out Gedo, Tanahashi up top and White takes the ref, Gedo hits Tanahashi with brass knux, takes out KUSHIDA and white pulls up Tanahashi and hits blade runner for the win. Jay White & Gedo defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA @ 8:55 via pin [**¾] This was pretty good, but more importantly than match quality, it solidified the White vs. Tanahashi feud and White’s status as a complete bag of douche. Plus, beating Tanahashi, even in a tag with shenanigans, is big.

– Post match, White gets booed out of the building as the crowd chants “Fuck You Switchblade” and says as soon as Tanahashi won G1 he gave Okada a shot, but he beat Tanahashi and he deserves a shot, so what are you waiting for. Tanahashi & NJPW are scared because they know White will beat him. This is the new era. Good heat on White there.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Tournament Match: Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll: The winner of this faces off with KUSHIDA to crown a new Junior Heavyweight champion. Ospreay is coming off of a banger against Jay Lethal at ROH Death Before Dishonor on Friday. Ospreay has put on size and slightly altered his style, fueling rumors that he’s heading to heavyweight. If he loses here, I’d say that’s the move. These two have had a long rivalry and know each other very well. Ospreay runs wild at the bell, hitting a Spanish fly, the Sasuke special, and shooting star press for a great near fall. The suicide dive follows. SHOCK AND AWE! Back in and the springboard forearm connects. Ospreay follows with kicks, but Marty lays in uppercuts and takes him to the floor and hits the apron superkick. Marty works him over on the apron, back in and Marty grounds the action with a stomp to the head and then lays in chops. Marty follows with knee strikes and a basement dropkick, attacking the neck of Ospreay and covers for 2. Marty follows with more chops, kicks Ospreay in the face, and Ospreay fires up until Marty chokes him out in the ropes. Ospreay fights back and hits the back handspring kick. Ospreay now misses a corner dropkick, but hits an enziguri and 619. Marty cuts him off and knocks Ospreay to the floor. He follows and whips him to the barricade. They work to the apron, trading strikes, and Ospreay lights up Marty with kicks and teases the Spanish fly, blocked by Marty and Ospreay now hits a kick and follows with the Tanahashi tribute sunset bomb to the floor. Back in and Ospreay hits the Robinson special. The Oscutter is countered and Marty then follows with a superkick. Ospreay fights off Marty, looks for storm breaker, countered by Marty and they trade strikes. Ospreay absolutely levels Marty with a stiff lariat. They work up top now, and Ospreay gets crotched. Marty smiles and hits the super RANA. The lariat turns Ospreay inside out and the cover gets 2. Marty now lays in chops, but Ospreay refuses to go down. Mary is puzzled as Ospreay just absorbs the chops. Ospreay counters with an enziguri but Marty pulls the chicken wing. Ospreay fights into a cradle for 2, Marty then powerbombs him, but Ospreay counters back with a hook kick to the face. Ospreay fires up, looks for storm breaker, but Marty fights it off and climbs up top with Ospreay on his back and Ospreay slides out, Cheeky Nandos follows and he heads up top and Marty crotches him, follows him up and Ospreay fights him off, but Marty hits a SUPER TIGER SUPLEX for a GREAT near fall! Marty hits the lariat and package side piledriver. The graduation finishes Ospreay. Marty Scurll defeated Will Ospreay @ 16:11 via pin [****½] This was an absolutely tremendous match, one that not only played off of their past matches, but saw a more motivated Scurll who abandoned all comedy and instead of just playing the hits, was completely focused on having a great match. They kept an amazing pace and the hot beginning felt fresh and completely different, and gave a great energy to things. Marty has had Ospreay’s number several times in the past, and tapped into that here, exposing Ospreay’s past neck injuries to overcome his longtime rival one more time and advance to the finals against KUSHIDA, and possibly send Osprey to heavyweight. This was excellent stuff.

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: IWGP Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny: Haku is at ringside with his boys. Nick and Tonga to begin. They work into some fun and fast paced back and forth, everyone is in and they brawl. The Guerrilla take control momentarily as the Bucks cut them off with double teams. The knock Loa to the floor and isolate Tonga. Matt tags in and as the Bucks start to run wild, Matt’s back gives out, reviving that old injury. Nick tags back in and Matt is frustrated. This allows Tonga to attack Nick as Loa works over Matt on the floor, focusing on his back and powerslamming him to the floor. Tonga now takes Nick to the floor as Loa sets up a table. Nick manages to whip Tonga to the post as Loa has Matt back in the ring but Nick makes the save and kicks Loa to the floor. Nick follows with a tope and back in, works over both challengers, running wild until Loa hits a big lariat. Matt fires up and heads up top, but Loa tosses him off the top and through the table on the floor; he’s dead Jim. The Guerrillas work double teams on Nick, Tonga up top and hits the frog splash for 2. Nick keeps fighting but the challengers work quick tags and work over Nick in their corner. Loa follows with a delayed suplex, and covers for 2. Tonga tags back in as the punishment on Nick continues. Nick manages to knock Loa to the floor; Matt is alive and crawls to the apron as Nick hits the slingshot x-factor and then the moonsault to the floor. Tonga cuts off Nick and hits the Tongan twist for 2. Loa hits a slam, Tonga tags back in and Nick counters a neck breaker and hits the desperation superkick. Tag to Matt and Matt lays in rights on Tonga, and then Loa. The double clothesline follows, Matt low bridges Loa to the floor and hits superkick on Tonga. Matt now locks on the sharpshooter on Tonga, but Loa breaks that up. The Guerrilla s work double teams, focusing on Matt’s back and covers for 2. Matt hits a desperation spear on Tonga and both men are down. Hot tag to Nick and he follows with a jumping knee strike on Loa and enziguri and double stomp on Tonga. Nick now tags in Matt and hits a superkick as the Bucks run wild and cover Loa for 2. Matt struggles to his feet, but he can’t pick up Loa. Nick in and held him and more bang for your buck connects after a delay by Matt for 2. The Bucks look for a Meltzer driver but Tonga cuts it off with a gun stun! Ape shit on Matt follows and that only gets 2. Matt fights of Guerrilla warfare but runs into a pop up gun stun and we have new champions. The Guerrillas of Destiny defeated Champions The Young Bucks @ 19:25 via pin [****] This was the best Guerrillas match in a very long time, There was no bullshit, just a good and strong tag formula, isolating Nick and playing off of the long established back injury of Matt. That injury has been a long running story since January, and has come a solid storytelling tool for the Bucks. The Guerrillas worked hard, they had a ton of great near falls and drama, Matt’s selling was great and Nick’s solo run in here was extremely good. The Guerrillas pick up the win and titles, continuing the Bullet Club war and changing the landscape prior to the world tag league, and more importantly did it clean.

IWGP US Title Match: IWGP US Champion Juice Robinson vs. Cody: Brandi is out with Cody. They lock up and Cody looks to work the arm. Robinson counters and Cody retreats to the ropes. Cody stalls a bit, heeling it up, but Robinson grounds the action. Cody counters to his feet, and lays in chops. Robinson is not amused and fires back with his own chops. Cody fires back with the uppercut and avoids the running high cross. Cody with the step up high cross, is caught, and Robinson hits an overhead belly to belly on the floor. Brandi sneaks up on Robinson and gets knocked down, allowing Cody to attack on the floor with an inverted DDT. Brandi was of course faking and dances around. Back in and Cody misses a springboard elbow drop. Robinson hits a clothesline, and another the cannonball is stopped as Brandi distracts Robinson, back in and Cody attack and hits a draping flatliner for 2. Cody counters pulp friction into a backslide for 2. Robinson hits a spin kick, and follows with the cannonball. The powerbomb is countered by a RANA by Cody. Brandi rakes Robinson’s eyes and Cody dumps him to the apron. Cody misses the disaster kick, Robinson up top and hits the high cross for 2. Cody now locks on the figure four, Robinson tries to fight out, but Cody has him trapped center ring. Robinson finally rolls the hold, and Cody makes the ropes. Brandi gives Cody a drink of water, and mists Robinson and hits the disaster kick for 2. Robinson slams Cody to the buckles and they then work into counters until Robinson hits pulp friction and Brandi pulls Cody to the floor. Robinson stops the ref’s count and follows Cody to the floor. But Cody cuts him off with cross Rhodes on the floor. We get a countout tease, but they make it back in. They trade strikes, Robinson lays in jabs, Cody follows and they light each other up until Cody pokes the eyes and hits a superkick. Cody looks for din’s fire, hits it and that gets 2. Cody heads up top, but Robinson crotches him and hits the big left and then follows him up. The superplex follows and they cradle each other for 3… and Cody wins as he had a shoulder up. Cody defeated Champion Juice Robinson @ 17:00 via pin [***½] This was a very good match, but it was too much of Cody bringing the circus to town as usual to be anything more. If it happened less often and wasn’t the norm it would mean more when he does it. I’m, also not a fan of Juice losing the title already, his run feels like such a waste, but the finish worked well.

Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi: Ibushi and Okada to begin. They work into some basic back and forth, Okada teases the rainmaker and Ibushi counters out. Ishii tags in and he wants Omega. Omega tags in and they lock up. Omega looks for shoulder tackles, Ishii shakes them off and takes Omega down and knocks Ibushi to the floor. Omega lays in strikes, Ishii walks through them and he follows with elbow strikes. Ibushi in and they take over with Omega picking up a near fall. Ibushi and Ishii trade strikes and kicks, but Ishii runs him over with a shoulder tackle and Okada tags himself in. Okada hits the senton atomico, and then antagonizes Omega. The neck breaker on Ibushi follows for 2. Ishii tags back in and double teams follow as Ishii knocks Omega to the floor. Omega in and they brawl, but Ishii dumps him and follows him to the floor for some brawling as Ishii murders Omega. Ibushi looks for a tag, but there is no Omega to tag. Ibushi fights for his life, but Okada cuts him off with the sliding dropkick. Ishii tags back in and slaps around Ibushi, lays in head butts, nut Ibushi fires back and hits the dropkick. Tag to Omega and he hits the high cross. He and Ishii trade strikes, but Ishii cuts off you can’t escape. Omega hits an odd looking DDT and comes up limping. He then misses a charge and Ishii hits the powerslam. Tag to Okada and Ibushi flies in with a missile dropkick. Omega RANAs Ishii to the floor. Cross slash follows as the Golden Lovers take control. Back in and the lovers follow with double teams on Okada for 2. Ishii in to make the save, hits a Saito on Omega but Ibushi cuts him off until Okada hits John Wooooo on Ibushi. Okada and Omega are finally left alone and they trade strikes. Omega lays in chops, avoids the dropkick and they work into some finisher teases until Omega hits the snapdragon. Ishii in and Omega cuts him off with a DVD, but Okada dropkicks Omega. Ibushi cuts off the rainmaker, and Germans Okada. Ibushi wipes out Ishii, V trigger by Omega on Okada. Okada counters the one winged angel and Ishii takes out Ibushi as Okada hits a tombstone and Ishii hits the sliding lariat for 2. Omega counters the rainmaker into a urnage and both men are down. Wholesale changes to Ishii & Ibushi, they trade strikes and Ibushi lays in kicks. The moonsault knees follow and that gets 2. The powerbomb German combo follows but Okada makes the save. The Lovers look for golden trigger, but Okada stops that and DDTs Ibushi. Omega then cuts of the dropkick into a sitout powerbomb but Ishii is back and they work into everyone down after an Ibushi PELE. Ibushi and Ishii again trade center ring, slapping the shit out if each other. Ibushi hits a huge lariat and that gets 2. Ibushi looks for kamigoye, but Ishii counters out and decapitates Ibushi with a lariat for 2. Omega in and gets run into Ibushi and Okada is in and Ishii kills Ibushi with a sick looking powerbomb for 2. Omega takes out Okada, Ibushi hits a head kick and straightjacket German on Ishii for 2. Ishii counters kamigoye, and Omega is back and they take Okada back to the floor. The golden trigger on Ishii finishes it. The Golden Lovers defeated Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada @ 23:05 via pin [****½] This was an absolutely excellent main event, worked at an insane pace and featuring four of the best in the world doing what they do best. I am all for allowing these guys to tear it up and this was on the level of the Lovers vs. Ishii & Ospreay. I loved this, there was no down time, no wasted motion, no bullshit, just tremendous action throughout with a hit crowd, good drama, excellent near falls and a beautiful homestretch. They could have easily overbooked the match with Omega & Ibushi tension or CHAOS angle stuff, which would have been understandable, but they instead allowed them to deliver an excellent match and then did the big angle post match. This was awesome.

– Scurll, Page & The Bucks arrive post match to celebrate. Omega says it wasn’t a perfect night overall for the group, and says he sees happy faces that came to watch the Elite tonight. There is more to come and says that he and Ibushi had a promise. The fans want to see the rematch, and he wants it at King of Pro Wrestling next week. Cody arrives and says he wants to help them out and take the burden from them. Cody says they are friends now, so next week, Ibushi vs. Cody vs. Omega. Omega says it’s a good idea and says they want to make history. There has only been one triple threat for the IWGP title, so let’s rewrite history and have the triple threat. Omega says this is about the beauty and originality of pro wrestling. Goodbye, and good night. They may all be friends now, but Cody is still the master manipulator and got himself a world title shot without putting up any of his other titles.

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Due to the card being announced late and the perceived oversaturation of the market leading to lower ticket sales, NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2018 ended up being a great show, with three must-see matches, a good and consistent undercard, a huge with for Scurll & The Guerrillas, the continuation of White vs. Tanahashi, and the big triple threat made for next week’s King of Pro Wrestling event. The show gets a big thumbs up from me.