NJPW Battle Autumn Report: Ospreay and Naito headline in Osaka

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2022/11/05/njpw-battle-autumn-report-ospreay-and-naito-headline-in-osaka/

DISCLOSURE: Karen Peterson is currently working with Bushiroad (parent company of New Japan and STARDOM) on a limited basis on a series of articles on the history of Stardom leading into the Historic X-Over event in November that will appear on their website.

Battle Autumn had the tough slot on the New Japan calendar being wedged between Declaration of Power last month and Historic X-Over and the Road to Wrestle Kingdom 17. Remote English commentary was provided courtesy of Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton, and today’s entire affair unfolded at the Edion Arena in Osaka.

With the semi-finals of the NJPW World Television Championship included on the card, I was surprised that they also streamed the first two matches of the card for free on YouTube! The free stream featured the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match between United Empire and Los Ingobernables de Japon and the debut of Aussie Open in an eight man tag match. They gave Tanahashi away for FREE today! The free live stream seems to only be available with Japanese commentary.

 

Spoiler-Free Synopsis

  • IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship (1/60): Oh, so that’s why the Juniors tend to open the show… – Recommended
  • Aussie Opens’ Debut in Japan 8-Man (1/20): It’s about time, y’all. – Recommended
  • Special Singles Match (1/20): Yuj takes one for the team. – Worth a Watch
  • NJPW TV Championship Semi-Final (1/15): Does the Latest Generation start now?! – Recommended
  • NJPW TV Championship Semi-Final (1/15): Belated Trick-or-Tekking at the House of Torture – Recommended
  • INCREDIBLE Tag Match (1/30): No, none of them can coexist. Period. – Highly Recommended
  • Special Tag Match (1/30): Okada helps Tama with his evil exes… that aren’t EVIL. – Recommended
  • IWGP Heavyweight Championship (1/60): FTR finally make their way to Japan. – Highly Recommended
  • US Heavyweight (1/60): A Brit and an Ingobernable de Japon square off for possession of America – Highly Recommended

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship (1/60): United Empire (TJP and Francesco Akira) defeated LIJ (BUSHI and Titan) (11:36) with Francesco pinning BUSHI after The Leaning Tower

If you weren’t amped for the oncoming Super Junior Tag League, allow this match to change your mind. Francesco’s growth since his arrival in Best of the Super Juniors and through his work with TJP is definitely showing. The addition of Titan to LIJ is refreshing and makes LIJ feel new and exciting, too. I know LIJ is usually ALWAYS exciting, but the addition of a new member since Shingo Takagi’s arrival in 2018, feels long overdue. Plus, it serves as a reminder that the company’s relationship with CMLL is still going strong. While I was very excited at the prospect of LIJ taking the Jr Tag belts to Mexico, I understand why United Empire retained. This match went hard and really wound the Osaka crowd up. It was a surprisingly hot start to the show, and a great match to get people to start thinking about contenders for Super Junior Tag League in a few weeks.

This was the Champions’ 2nd successful defense. they’ll carry the Jr. Tag Championships into Super Junior Tag League starting November 21st.

What’s Next? Well, Super Junior Tag League, of course!

  • TJP/Francesco Akira: As champions, I don’t see them splitting apart or bringing in other partners with The Dome and New Year Dash on the horizon. So long as they remain champions, they’re seat in January is secure, even if they drop some losses in the tournament.
  • BUSHI/Titan: If they continue to tag in Super Junior Tag League will hinge upon if Titan is able to stay in Japan until mid-January when CMLL x NJPW Fantastica Mania returns for the first time since 2020. The other point is if they’ll have Hiromu tag with one of the LIJ Heavyweights as well, too.

Aussie Opens’ Debut in New Japan 8-Man Tag (1/20): United Empire (Kyle Fletcher, Mark Davis, Aaron Henare & Lord Gideon Grey) defeated Hontai (9:50) with Fletcher pinning Yano after Corealis

I sang Aussie Open’s praises last week, and I am glad they could finally do everything that got them on the international radars in front of an Osaka crowd. The crowd’s applause was thunderous and matching them up against Finlay, Zayne, Yano and Tanahashi is the perfect mix of styles in NJPW made for an enjoyable, yet short match. I loved that they got to spend a little ring time with Tanahashi and Yano as well as mixing it up with Zayne and Finlay. Henare and Grey were also solid supports to help ease them into the new waters, too.

Any combination of all the people in this match could make this year’s World Tag League a lot more interesting.

What’s Next?

  • Aussie Open: As I said last week, if they aren’t in World Tag League, we riot. If they aren’t fighting FTR again after that barn burner they had in London… again… riot. They’ve done a lot for NJPW STRONG and NJPW with their stint in AEW. They deserve all the flowers heaped upon them.
  • Henare: With Cobb/O’Khan and AO as the likely teams for WTL, I wonder if he’ll tag with Ospreay or if he’ll sit the tournament out, but at least participate in the NZ/AU Tamashii shows.
  • Grey: I hope he gets his jacket back from Naito soon. It’s getting cold in Japan. Rather certain he’ll be hanging around for World Tag League as UE may enter as many as FOUR teams into the tournaments.
  • Tanahashi: I am hoping that he and Yano are teaming once more as Toru and Hiroshi for World Tag League. I am fairly confidence that the Ace won’t miss out on the Tokyo Dome show, but I am so curious to know where is path leads next. Wouldn’t be mad at a King of Pro-Wrestling match against Shingo Takagi at the Dome, especially when I remember their fight over the NEVER Championship in 2020.
  • Yano: See Tanahashi and WTL. Put them back together and in World Tag League. Please and thank you.
  • Finlay: I thought he’d be a lock for World Tag League, but it seems that The Rebel has other plans. Singles run plans. As a previous WTL tournament and IWGP Tag Champ with Juice Robinson, I agree with his choice to go after singles gold. I have enjoyed his breakout year, so I am a little sad we may not seen him until year’s end… unless he’s going to make an appearance at NJPW STRONG in LA on 11/20.
  • Zayne: After his runaway debut in this year’s Best of the Super Juniors, I sincerely hope he is in the conversation for Super Junior Tag League or World Tag League. I don’t care. I wanted him and Finlay to tag, but that option may be off the dining room table. I just want to see him wrestle much, much more. “I live to dine another day” are truly words to live by. I want it on a coffee mug.

Special Singles Match (1/20): Hikuleo pinned Yujiro Takahashi (0:28) after a chokeslam

This was originally supposed to be a NEVER Openweight Championship match for Hikuleo against Karl Anderson. However, WWE seemingly had other plans with Anderson and Gallows being booked for Crown Jewel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Fellow Bullet Club member, Yujiro Takahashi stepped up offering to serve as Anderson’s proxy, but Hikuleo requested a non-title match, so he could hopefully face Karl in the future.

The match started with SHO helping Yujiro with a jump start, and Jado pushing Hikuleo to fight through it on his own. The Young Gun cleaned house in less than thirty seconds. No one knows when or if the chance will come along, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for the Tokyo Dome. Perhaps New Year’s DASH.

What’s Next?

  • Hikuleo: With Tanga Loa still out for the rest of the year, post-op on his knee, perhaps, we’ll see Tama Tonga and Hikuleo tag together. Brothers united.
  • Yujiro Takahashi: I’m guessing tagging with EVIL for World Tag League? I wish he could tag with KENTA again, and leave Togo/EVIL to work together for WTL.
  • SHO: House of Torture doesn’t have another junior, so I am hoping that Ace Austin and Chris Bey make their way to Japan. I would love to see either of them tag with the murder machine.
  • Karl Anderson: The company won’t strip him, meaning they’re supporting the insubordination. I guess he’ll come back at some point. It’s just frustrating seeing another championship on the shelf when there are so many people working hard day-in and day-out both in Japan and in the STRONG.

NJPW World Television Championship

The Battle Autumn tour heavily featured the tournament for the new TV championship. I loved the mandated time limit of 15-minute single bouts because much like the tourneys in STARDOM, it forces everyone to work at a faster pace and think on their feet more to make sure they avoid having the decision made… by a coin toss. As promised, NJPW World had quick turn around in putting all of these matches up on their YouTube channel for free, including English commentary on delay. My only sticking point with the placement of the tournament was the overlap with the Rumble on 44th Street events last week, meaning a lot of fan favorites were not in attendance.

First Round Matches at Korakuen Hall (10/14-26) minus 10/16 at Nagaoka

  • Semi-Main First Round Match (10/14): David Finlay defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru (11:52)
  • Main Event First Round Match (10/14): Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Alex Zayne (14:55)
  • Semi-Main First Round Match (10/15) : EVIL defeated Aaron Henare (10:55)
  • Main Event First Round Match (10/15): YOSHI-HASHI defeated Jeff Cobb (12:14)
  • Semi-Main First Round Match (10/16): KENTA defeated Hirooki Goto (9:32) – Nagaoka, Niigata
  • Main Event First Round Match (10/16): SANADA defeated Taichi (14:57) – Nagaoka, Niigata
  • Semi-Main First Round Match (10/26): Toru Yano defeated Great O’Khan (11:20) – with the help of The Great Muta?!
  • Main Event First Round Match (10/26): Ren Narita defeated Tomohiro Ishii (14:33)

Second Round Matches (10/27 Korakuen Hall & 10/30 Makuhari Messe, Chiba)

NJPW World TV Tournament (1/15): Ren Narita defeated SANADA (14:31) with a stunning, bridged front suplex hold

SANADA loves to flirt with time limits. He knows it. NJPW knows it. We ALL know it. However, this approach for thrilling flash finishes in the final seconds works in stark contrast to his minimalist approach to life. Meanwhile, the Son of Strong Style and the successor of Shibataism, Ren Narita, takes The Wrestler’s non-nonsense, no time to waste approach. Their match had a lot of back and forth, including sleeper submissions and beautiful rolling bridges. Narita played into SANADA’s game with two tickets to Paradise – one in the center of the ring and another for good measure with him tied up in the ropes.

【11.5大阪大会・第4試合】

『NJPW WORLD認定TV王座決定トーナメント』準決勝

残り29秒の劇的勝利!

フロントスープレックスホールドでSANADAから3カウントを奪取!

成田が決勝戦進出!

★試合の詳細は新日本プロレス・スマホサイトで速報中!https://t.co/qmhO3kucEZ#njpw #njautumn pic.twitter.com/IwGaRuAM8u

— 新日本プロレスリング株式会社 (@njpw1972) November 5, 2022

Narita fought hard against SANADA’s plans to make the match last as long as possible, but squeaked out the win in the final minute of the match. Narita advances to the finals at WK17 to face the winner of ZSJ/EVIL.

What’s Next?

  • Ren Narita: Step 1: punched ticket for WK17. However, I am hoping that he’ll also get to participate in Super Jr. Tag League. With Taguchi rumored to be tagging with Clark Connors and Master Wato also freed up from 6-and-9 due to his Jr. 4-Way match, I wonder if a Young Lion reunion for Wato and Narita are in the cards.
  • SANADA will be looking for a World Tag League partner perhaps. Personally, I’d like to see him switch it up this year and tag with Takagi, leaving Naito to tag with Hiromu. LIJ needs to balance the cooler heads and the hotter ones. Still wish SANADA got a proper run with the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship, but here we are.

NJPW World TV Tournament (1/15): ZSJ defeated EVIL (4:48) with a Grounded Cobra Twist

Zack brought out his own bag of tricks and treated the NJPW World to a very sly plan to outsmart EVIL and Dick Togo. Armed with not one, but two stunt doubles in Kosei Fujita and Ryohei Oiwa, SZJ gets the jump on EVIL for a change knowing that the House of Torture uses their numbers advantage. The match is short and sweet, with double doses of revenge with EVIL getting a little taste of everything he does to the ring announcer, Makoto Abe and Dick Togo almost costing him the match with an under the ring leg grab. While EVIL did his best to employ his usual buffet of shenanigans, Zack outclassed him and pinned him in less than five minutes.

【11.5大阪大会・第5試合】

『NJPW WORLD認定TV王座決定トーナメント』準決勝

ヤングライオンの替玉入場!

ザック劇場全開でEVILに勝利し決勝戦進出!

★試合の詳細は新日本プロレス・スマホサイトで速報中!https://t.co/qmhO3kucEZ#njpw #njautumn pic.twitter.com/UsgvMes21x

— 新日本プロレスリング株式会社 (@njpw1972) November 5, 2022

Revenge is a dish best served cold, but it was particularly delicious and satisfying on this autumn morning. Saberism is alive, well, and out there vanquishing EVIL.

What’s Next?

  • SZJ: In addition to punching his ticket to WK17, Zack will be teaming with Giulia against Syuri and Tom Lawlor in one of the mixed tag matches at Historic X-Over. Curious to know if we’ll also see a Dangerous Tekkers reunion for World Tag League. The world needs more Outrageous Tekking, and he and Ren Narita will easily put on a speed clinic with that fifteen minute time limit.
  • EVIL may not be advancing in the TV Tournament, but he likely has a NEVER 6-Man defense lined up in the lead up to to Dome (if not at it and likely against CHAOS). Could easily see it being a NEVER-6 Gauntlet as the January 4th card is filling up quickly. As for World Tag League, he and Yujiro Takahashi might be licking their wounds now, but could be in the conversation for tournament spoilers.
  • Oiwa & Fujita: I don’t know if they’ll get a Super Junior Tag League berth, but their SZJ Cosplays will live rent-free in my head for the foreseeable future. Would love to see them tangle with The DKC and Kevin Knight ASAP.

The INCREDIBLE TAG (1/30): Master Wato and El Desperado defeated Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori (16:40) with Wato getting his first victory over Hiromu with a little help from… ISHIMORI?!

With years of matches, rematches, rivalries and the Jr. Heavyweight Championship changing hands between three-fourths of the members in the match, Master Wato was the odd man out as the only non-Jr. Singles Championship holder in the group. With KUSHIDA’s return time table uncertain, Wato stepped up and locked in a surprise upset over Ishimori in a non-championship match at Declaration of Power (10/10). As a preview for their four-way bout for the Jr. Championship at WK17, the four competitors were thrown together in a tag match, relying on drawing lots to see how the four would be split into tag teams. Hiromu believed he won the Super Junior Lottery when he and Ishimori wound up together against a very reluctant pairing of Wato and Desperado.

However, Hiromu’s victory and happiness only lasted until the bell rang to start the match. While Wato and Desperado were fighting with one another to decide who gets to start, Ishimori… Delegated? Empowered? …Tasked Hiromu with going first and fighting most of the match for their team. The Champion intentionally stood out of tagging distance for most of the match, which I thought was brilliant. Hiromu thought they’d be a super-friends tag, and Ishimori simply did what he did to keep his Dome match.

Naturally, the “can they all co-exist” joke visibly in the forefront, but given all of their respective histories with one another, the answer –which we all knew from the get go — was a resounding NOPE. This match went off the rails and got quite chaotic rather quickly in all the best possible ways. Trying to explain it all wouldn’t even begin to do it justice. Go watch it … go watch it a couple of times and each time you’ll notice something new! I’m not saying that Ishimori intentionally missed kicking Wato in the face while he was on Hiromu’s shoulders, but the aftermath lead to Wato’s first pin fall victory over The Ticking Timebomb and Ishimori laughing all the way to the back.

Wato chopping Desperado instead of tagging him, showed the fire he needs to be in the conversation of becoming a new champion instead of a “substitute for KUSHIDA.” I hope over the next two months, Desperado in particular helps draw more of the fire and energy out of him because he’s trying really hard, but with the gigantic personalities of the other three, if he doesn’t step up, he’s going to be quickly pushed out.

What’s Next? Super Junior Tag League… they all can’t miss it, right? All four have a date with destiny on January 4th, but…

  • Wato: Taguchi is teaming with Clark Connors as “Wild Hips,” leaving the Six of 6-and-9 without a partner. A returning KUSHIDA would be nice, but let him and Ren Narita reunite. I think their serious personalities and strong moral compass approaches might mesh well together.
  • Ishimori: With ELP gone Heavy, the natural option would be SHO. However, lately BC proper and HoT have been keeping themselves increasingly separate. Bring back Ace Austin and bring over Chris Bey. Mix them up with Ishimori and Austin and Bey and SHO. Keep it interesting, and make it fresh, even for the champion.
  • Desperado: Another tricky spot because he and Kanemaru are former SJTL Champions, but they’re standing on opposite sides at Historic X-Over, with Desperado tagging with DOUKI instead. I’m guessing TAKA will come back, so they have even numbers again?
  • Hiromu: Put him in World Tag League with Naito. Let him counterbalance SANADA/Takagi as a team, especially after his nearly unstoppable 2020 New Japan Cup run. Unless they bring in another Junior, I would rather see BUSHI & Titan get a longer run together, so Titan isn’t left out of the tag leagues.

Special Tag Match (1/30):Tama Tonga & Kazuchika Okada defeated Jay White &KENTA (17:34) with Tama pinning KENTA after a Gun Stun

Okada and Tama must have gotten my memo about my affinity for matching gear because the NJPW Red and Gold gear looked sublime! While I thought Jay and Okada wouldn’t meet again until January after last week’s show in NYC, this match was snuck onto the card as a last minute announcement. While this match could be billed as Jay and Okada’s last meeting before WK17, it felt more like Tama Tonga tying up loose ends with BC, especially being the man behind the scenes responsible for poaching Jay from CHAOS and being the one to turn KENTA on Katsuyori Shibata in 2019.

Where Jay White is concerned: both Okada and Tama have his betrayal in common. Tama may have been one of the ones to flip Jay to the dark side, but the Kiwi’s meteoric rise upon joining BC shot him to the front, while Tama continued toiling in the background to keep the BC ship afloat. Who would have thought Tama’s defeating of Okada in the 2021 G1 would lead to a working partnership and a babyface turn for Tonga in 2022. This match did have nor did it need any real stakes. Just letting Okada and Tama get their hands on the ones who betrayed them made for a nice palette cleanser match.

My only question about this setup is where do KENTA and Tama go from here? Perhaps World Tag League will tell. I feel like while Okada has Jay firmly in his crosshairs and his focus on WK17, Tama still has unfinished business with Karl Anderson. KENTA ate the Gun Stun, despite being arguably the person with the least amount of qualms in this fight.

I don’t know how much longer the blood feud with Jay and BC will continue for Tama, but this was another step in the right direction, to put further distance from that previous chapter in his life. We are constantly reminded that “Bullet Club is for life,” but the question remains: what happens when one is kicked out? Is it a catch and release program? Will there come a time where the Brothers Tonga will feel the pull and gravity of BC once more?

What’s Next? Let’s talk WTL and who may or may not sit the series out…

  • Tama: Hopefully, a WTL run with Hikuleo since Loa is out.
  • Okada: While WK17 is sorted as the G1 Winner, I am hoping Okada isn’t sitting WTL out. Ishii could use a partner.
  • Jay: While he’ll likely sit WTL out, after seeing him and Juice Robinson tagging together in NYC, it could be fun to see a little more of Jay on the road to WK17.
  • KENTA: Let him reunite with Yujiro and Pieter, even if just for the backstage promos and in-ring shenanigans. However, I am wondering if he’s headed home instead.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship (1/60): FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) defeated United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great O’Khan) (17:31) with Dax pinning O’Khan after a Big Rig

In the last few years, there has been an influx of new blood and more crucially new tag teams in NJPW. I love FTR. I’ve been a fan of theirs for years. I love that they’re in a promotion that values tag team wrestling… almost to a fault. With their multiple championships in multiple promotions, it places any NJPW tag team going against them to get the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championships back in a tough position. They are heavily protected and truly beloved in AEW, which does the NJPW Tag Division a slight disservice. I feel like they’re a bit painted into a corner until they start losing their other titles.

Jeff and O’Khan had a great WTL 2020 when the United Empire first formed, and then were split apart last year. They had great G1s, but their two IWGP Tag Team runs were criminally short, which makes this match a little hard to watch because they’ve worked so hard and they keep coming up empty handed. From a technical standpoint, the foursome had a great match. I love it. I want more of it. Frequency and presence in the promotion is what I would like to see. I simply get frustrated when I see people putting in the time and energy into the company, but aren’t given equal footing to guest competitors. With all the potential great match ups for WTL, I don’t want multiple matches becoming multi-team tornado tags for the championships.

If FTR can’t be spared for WTL, and the company insists on having them shoulder the championships for a while, they need to start defending it on every US show or allow the loss to be on AEW so the company can get their belts back. Honestly, I want FTR and Cobb/GOK in WTL in opposite blocks. If the plan is a Dome match, it’s hard not to picture United Empire in that conversation in some iteration. This was FTR’s second successful defense. However, with them also holding the AAA Tag Team Championships and ROH Tag Team Championships, fitting them into a tournament where they could have to eat a couple of losses would be a tall order.

What’s Next?

  • FTR: The selfish part of me wants them to be in World Tag League, but with all their OTHER tag championships, I do not think they’d be able to afford any loses. If they were to lighten their gold stash, I would love to see them in WTL.
  • Cobb/O’Khan: They’ve held the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championships before, but they’ve yet to make it to the top of the WTL tables or win the tournament. How they fare this year could easily throw them atop the pile of contenders for January.

US Heavyweight (1/60): Will Ospreay defeated Tetsuya Naito (30:07) with Storm Breaker

I appreciate the journey Naito had to earn his revenge at Ospreay for his devastating loss in the G1 Semi-Finals via fighting SZJ at Royal Quest. While their G1 match went just over twenty-minutes, their revisiting of this match less than three months later clocked in at just over thirty. The pacing was decidedly and intentionally slower, but also pushed both Naito and Ospreay to go above and beyond their previous meeting. Much like either of their meetings with Kota Ibushi, I like their singles matches to be more spaced out, largely because of how wild and crazy they go. I know they’re professionals, it’s just the big sister worrywart in me.

Like their previous meeting either in singles or tag competition, they both played all their greatest hits with the end game of simply trying to outlast the other. They work together seamlessly transitioning and often without stopping. I can’t recall a single moment where either one appeared to question what they were doing or second guessing any move. Even though they were trying to break one another down, they booth appeared to be having fun the entire time. While there was the cheeky double Tranquilo in the center of the ring, for the most part both were uncharacteristically more business than pleasure and laser focused. It was a great match. I would have shaved off five minutes, but I did like how even with United Empire at ringside, everyone simply minded their business. They let Ospreay and Naito take care of their business in a one-on-one setting, which I liked. I just wish they wouldn’t try to kill one another so much. Naito threw the kitchen sink and even multiple Destinos couldn’t do the trick. The moment Ospreay got Naito up for the Storm Breaker, it was all over.

This is Ospreay’s third successful defense as US Champion. His path to the Tokyo Dome got brighter, while Naito’s prospects got just that much more dim. Instead of resting on his laurels with a ticket for January 4th, his inner work-rate-aholic decides to ruffle some feathers and issue an open challenge. To his credit, between defending the belt against Orange Cassidy, David Finlay and now Tetsuya Naito has given Ospreay credibility as champion and the US Title some long overdue stability. I appreciate there being at least one IWGP Men’s Championship being defended at Historic X-Over, but my sincere hope is that it doesn’t close the show as the focus should remain on the crossover aspect or the IWGP Women’s Championship since they’ve gone to such great lengths to make it the focal point since the announcement of the co-branded event.

HOLY SHOTA and OH MY UMINO!! Roughneck Shota Umino shows up in Osaka!!

Shota Umino answering Will Ospreay’s Open-the-Forbidden-Door Challenge is the perfect way to bookend the potential end of his England excursion. My gut told me something was up when his remainder of 2022 was conspicuously empty, and I am so thankful this is his next step. It looks like the video was likely meant to be a teaser for Osaka, but I hadn’t seen mention of it prior to today. Admittedly, I did not watch ALL of the tour, so I could have easily missed it. However, I feel like if there had been a tease, there would have been more discourse over it in the last weeks or so, especially after Rumble on 44th Street.

It is worth noting that the NJPW Japanese mobile website results specifically states that that Umino is still “in the middle of his international excursion,” so unless a formal return announcement is made, it could just be a Historic X-Over special feature for the time being. I still stand by mu hope that he’s also getting into World Tag League, preferably with Wheeler Yuta… or you know… Hiroshi Tanahashi…

What’s Next?

  • Looks like Will Ospreay will have his dance card packed thanks to his Open Challenge for Historic X-Over as Roughneck Shota Umino has to reconcile some receipts from their time together in the UK. If he can hang onto it, then he’ll have a hot ticket to WK17 burning a hole in his pocket. The Forbidden Door name drop raises a lot of eyebrows, but there is one name that could easily help cement the stability of the IWGP US Championship – a match with its inaugural champion – provided he can slip through that Kindan no Tobira by January 4th… Ω
  • The Tokyo Dome feels further and further away for Tetsuya Naito after this devastating loss. However, with the World Tag League around the corner, we could see one more dash to the Dome. The question is which member of LIJ will he partner with this year? How many chances does Naito have left to turn everything around?
  • Shota Umino could be making a case to formally return from his international excursion, especially with their special singles match on the first night of Royal Quest II last month, which ended in a referee stoppage. Their rivalry goes back further to the height of the pandemic back in RevPro UK. Umino challenged Ospreay for the Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship on 11/21/2021, so their possible Historic X-Over meeting will be just over one year to the day from their nearly thirty-minute match.

Honestly, on paper, this was a very unassuming, under the radar card, despite the big Japan debuts of FTR and Aussie Open and being headlined by a G1 semi-final with Naito x Ospreay. I was looking forward to it, but I was pleasantly surprised with how above and beyond everyone went to make this show MUST SEE.

If you like fun, you’ll have fun. If you enjoy some deliciously sweet revenge, you’ll get it. If you rally for the underdog like I do, *whew* are you in for some treats!

Like surprises? All the better.


NEXT UP: IT’S FINALLY TIME!!!!

NJPW x STARDOM Historic Crossover (11/20) – Ariake Arena

Finalized Card/Match Order Pending; Full Event Report

  1. *NEW* STARDOM Rumble: Pre-show Match; Participants TBA; Over the Top Rope Rules Apply
  2. *NEW* 6-Woman Tag Match: Queen’s Quest (AZM, Saya Kamitani & Lady C) vs. Donna del Mondo (Himeka, Thekla & Mai Sakurai)
  3. *NEW* Great Muta Final NJPW Farewell: The Great Muta, Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano vs. United Empire (Great O’Khan, Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare)
  4. *PENDING* IWGP US Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay © vs. Shota Umino
  5. *UPDATE* IWGP Women’s Title Tournament Final (1/NTL): Mayu Iwatani (STARS) vs. KAIRI (Freelancer)
  6. HXo 8-Person Mixed Tag Match: Black Desire (Momo Watanabe & Starlight Kid) & Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & El Desperado) vs. meltear (Natsupoi & Tam Nakano) & Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
  7. HXo Mixed Tag Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Utami Hayashishita vs. Hirooki Goto & Maika
  8. HXo Mixed Tag Match: Syuri & Tom Lawlor vs. Giulia & Zack Sabre Jr.

If you don’t happen to follow Dream Slam Weekly, but you’re curious about STARDOM, check out my guest column series at NJPW’s Official English Site. My goal is to help make STARDOM more accessible to the global fanbase.

Karen Peterson’s Historic X-Column

Also, check out Dream Slam Weekly every Saturday, including TODAY!


The Final Sprint of 2022 to the Tokyo Dome

The next NJPW STRONG series– NJPW Showdown — starts tonight and will air weekly each Saturday between now and November 26th. STRONG will pre-tape DETONATION on November 20th at The Vermont Hollywood, and I am curious to know if there will be implications for the Dome or even New Year DASH in LA, too!

The final trek The Dome includes one final pair of tournaments starting the day after Historic X-Over. Super Junior Tag League opens on November 21st and World Tag League opens the following day on November 22nd. Both shows will be held at Korakuen Hall and the participants and cards are expected to be released early next week (or as early as the post-Battle Autumn press conference once announced). Both tournaments will run concurrently on opposite days, but there will also be cards with both tournaments league matches featured. The series will run from November 21st through December 14th with both finals being held at Sendai Sun Plaza Hall on the final day.

There are also two Road to Tokyo Dome shows scheduled on December 22nd & 23rd at Korakuen Hall, which will close out NJPW’s 2022.

The Antonio Inoki Memorial Celebration at Wrestle Kingdom 17 (1/4/2023) Tokyo DomeFull Match Card TBA

(c) NJPW

  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship (1/60): Jay White © vs. Kazuchika Okada
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship 4-Way (1/60): Taiji Ishimori © vs. Master Wato vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado
  • IWGP Women’s Championship (1/TBA): Winner of Mayu Iwatani/KAIRI on 11/20 vs. X
  • NJPW World Television Championship Tournament Finals (1/15): Ren Narita vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.

Upcoming NJPW Coverage Schedule

  • Historic X-Over (11/20) Ariake Arena
  • Wrestle Kingdom 17 (1/4/2023) Tokyo Dome
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