Hey all, Magnate Mat here with some observations and thoughts from last nights ‘Fighting Spirit Unleashed’ event from NYC. Coming from the venerated Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center, New Japan Pro Wrestling put on a great show, delay notwithstanding, and gave the NYC crowd an amazing time. This will be more of an observational post as opposed to results or review one…things I thought as the event went on. Yes, there was an hour-plus delay. An NJPW rep came out to talk to the audience, and Rocky Romero came out to thank the crowd for their patience, throw some t-shirts, and buy the crew some time. Rocky is a pro’s pro and does a lot for New Japan here in the States.
Young Lions Out Front
The first three matches featured the Young Lions (NJPW Trainees) from both the Japan and Los Angeles Dojos. Ren Narita faced off against recent addition to the Juniors division and former WWE Cruiserweight Champion, TJP. Karl Fredericks took on Lance Archer, who is building himself a dangerous reputation in the singles division, and a tag match with Chuck Connors and Alex Coughlin took on Juice Robinson and Mad Mikey Nicholls. All fun matches, Ren Narita, is definitely a star in the making, having been featured in this years BOSJ tournament and while he hasn’t won much, and did lose to TJP here, he is extremely talented and has a bright future.
“Ain’t Nobody Realer Than Guerrilla.”
One of the more fun matches of the evening was a six-man tag. The Guerrillas Of Destiny, current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa along with “Master Heater” Jado took on Roppongi 3K (Rocky Romero, SHO, and YOH). G.O.D has one of the best entrances in New Japan, hands down…and in the cathedral of the Hammerstein ballroom, the reaction was amazing to see the current tag champs own the room. A high energy and hard-hitting affair, both teams put on a show and work very well together. It seems that Roppongi 3K have unofficially moved up to the Heavyweight Tag Division, which is probably where they should have been recently. The G.O.D come away with the win in a very well-received match.
Past, Present. & Future
In 2019, this tag match happened. Hiroshi Tanahashi & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) vs Los Ingobernables De Japon members Tetsuya Naito, Bushi, and Shingo Takagi. Tanahashi is New Japan’s franchise…the man who carried New Japan on his back through some very lean years to raise it to where it is now and might be the best to ever lace boots up teams up with one of the most excellent tag teams wrestling has ever had the privilege to watch. Their opposition being the new guard of NJPW. Naito looks to seize New Japan with his LIJ cohorts by taking on its pillars with a style and attitude all his own, crafting LIJ as easily the most popular stable in New Japan presently. To see Ricky and Robert performing in 2019 and to see a crowd chant “ROCK N ROLL” is surreal and sublime. Tanahashi does what he does, which is be nothing short of amazing, and it was a fun match, and Naito’s entrance in front of an NYC crowd is a singular feeling. A milestone to be recognized is that this was Tiger Hattori’s last US match, he has worked as a referee for New Japan for 40+ years. He’s reffed every great…from Inoki to Marafuji to the battles between Okada and Tanahashi. His family was in attendance, including his children and grandchildren, and was honoured as a legend of Hattori’s stature should be honoured. Hiroshi Tanahashi cried, and if Tanahashi can cry, it’s ok for any of us to cry. In closing, it is impossible for Tanahashi to take a bad picture; it will never happen.
So Jay White is here…….oh look, time for a snack
Amazing Red is retiring. For those of you that don’t know that name, Amazing Red is a TNA Original. He helped build the X Division, trained a number of wrestlers and founded the House Of Glory promotion, which operates out of New York. He is a legend you should know, and if you don’t, please look him up
EVERYTHING IS EVIL…
The main event was a special tag team match featuring Kota Ibushi teaming with current IWGP champion, and easily the best professional wrestler walking the planet today Kazuchika Okada taking on the long-established team of SANADA and EVIL. Okada’s jacket has more swag than you, me, or anyone we know.
Amazing to watch 4 of the best in this company tear it up in one of wrestling’s landmark venues. A back and forth match with everyone getting a chance to get their shine on. In a surprising result, SANADA & EVIL get the win here, straight up and EVIL closes the show, taking the mic and declaring the NEW YORK IS EEEEEEEEVIL.
Overall an amazing show, New Japan does great when it sticks to what it does best, and the crowd was amazing.
The event should be available on NJPW World.