Saturday August 31 saw NJPW head to the Copper Box for Royal Quest. A huge crowd of 6119 was in attendance in the Olympic venue for a landmark event for New Japan, with a brace of title matches at the top of the card, and several scores to settle from the G1 Climax as NJPW turned the corner from summer to an ultra-competitive autumn.
8th Match: Kazuchika Okada defeated Minoru Suzuki via pinfall to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
With the crowd loud and passionate for both champion and challenger, Suzuki took early control over Okada on the mat. After hold exchanges resulted in an impasse, Suzuki invited Okada to strike him, but would be taken surprise by the champion’s superior striking game, a boot putting Suzuki on the mat. When Okada tried to follow in the ropes however, he was caught, and Suzuki locked in a trademark armbar before taking advantage on the outside of the ring.
When a potential chair shot was cut off by Okada, each man would try and piledrive the other on the entrance ramp, before Suzuki backed a long way up and delivered a huge penalty kick to the IWGP champion. Heavy damage was done to Okada, and when the Rainmaker tried to tee off on Suzuki, the challenger merely laughed before delivering a hard forearm shiver.
The champion’s speed came in handy for Okada as he was able to hit and run with some blows, before landing a DDT in ring that sent Suzuki to the floor, only to be met by a plancha from the champion. Back in ring however, Suzuki was able to rain in boots and another penalty kick to Okada at the 15 minute mark, before going to a page from his mentor Yoshiaki Fujiwara’s armbar, damage being struck to Okada’s Rainmaker arm.
Okada seemed to have no answer to Suzuki, who continued to punish his opponent, yet another PK modified as a straight boot to the face connecting. When he went to follow with a Gotch Style Piledriver however, Okada lowered his center of gravity, and powered out before hitting a desperation elbow.
As both came to their feet, a brutal exchange of elbows followed, as both smiled in the face of punishment. Okada would take huge blow after huge blow, only to fire back at Suzuki, as the crowd came unglued. An almighty shot knocked Okada off his feet finally, before Suzuki landed a brutal shot to the back of Okada’s head.
Okada would again resist the Gotch Style Piledriver however, with a reverse neckbreaker stopping the King in his tracks at the 25 minute mark. Suzuki would land a series of Fujiwara style headbutts but was cut off by an Okada dropkick; the champion would then follow with a sleeper hold of his own, but Okada’s follow up was met by two flying boots from the King.
Suzuki would tightly lock in a rear naked choke that seemed finally to send the champion into unconsciousness. Adrenaline surged through Okada however, who spun out of the hold and landed a massive short range lariat. Okada would retain wrist control, but a full Rainmaker was denied by Suzuki who landed a hard right hand. The challenger landed a powerful flurry of blows to Okada, who fell to the floor, but Suzuki again couldn’t land the Gotch Style, Okada taking Suzuki’s leg before hitting a pair of dropkicks.
A Tombstone would follow, before the Rainmaker connected, and Okada retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Post match, Okada addressed the crowd in English, asking the Copper Box fans what they thought of an amazing evening. Okada went on to say in Japanese that he was happy to have wrestled Suzuki, and that a debt from the G1 had been repaid. Okada asked whether somebody else had a debt that needed repaying, drawing SANADA to the ring.
Okada was more than happy to accept any potential challenge, before vowing to make it rain once again in London, as an electric crowd was sent home more than happy.
7th Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Zack Sabre Junior via pinfall to win the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Champiosnhip.
The crowd was heavily in home town boy Zack Sabre Junior’s corner as the match got underway, Tanahashi meeting ZSJ on the mat. The two would exchange holds, with both caught in a simultaneous bridging Indian Death Lock as the match passed five minutes. Tanahashi would miss a flipping Senton however, creating the opportunity for Sabre, who went after the right arm of his challenger, and then assaulted the heavily taped left arm as well.
Tanahashi would create somewhat of an opening with a dropkick to Sabre’s knee, and would come close with a series of flash pinfall attempts. Sabre would kill the Ace’s momentum however, as he snapped the neck of Tanahashi, and when the challenger landed a Dragon Screw and attempted to follow with a Texas Cloverleaf, Sabre would contort Tanahashi into a nearfall from a cradle.
An Octopus hold would follow for ZSJ, as he twisted hard on Tanahashi’s right arm. Sabre would try and follow with a Penalty Kick, but Tanahashi responded with Twist and Shout and a Slingblade. A High Fly Flow proved premature however, as the champion buried his knees into Tanahashi and then negotiated a vicious double armbar, only alleviated with an inverted Dragon Screw. Moments later, catching a break in momentum, Tanahashi landed a Dragon Suplex for a two count, before hitting a High Fly Flow to become British Heavyweight Champion for the first time.
6th Match: KENTA defeated Tomohiro Ishii via pinfall to win the NEVER Openweight Championship
KENTA seemed to start earnestly against Ishii with a snug lockup, but would then bail to the floor and play for time. When he took Ishii down and delivered a kick to Ishii however, the game was on, with a strike exchange that Ishii emerged on top of. KENTA would create separation however, with a spinning stungun over the top rope and top rope lariat to Ishii.
Boos would rain down on KENTA, as the challenger took control on Ishii, and paintbrushed him with mocking boots to the head as the match reached the five minute mark. Ishii would respond with a huge powerslam to KENTA, and took over with chops and forearm jabs in the corner. The fighting spirit of KENTA was pulled out of the challenger, who wouldn’t back down in an exchange of open hand blows and forearm shots before KENTA’s boots and corner dropkick gave him the upper hand.
KENTA would block an Ishii enzuigiri, and gave some brutal kicks to Ishii before a draping DDT. Ishii refused to fall to an ensuing boot or German Suplex however, firing up at his challnger with suplexes and vicious blows, including an impactful headbutt that seemed to heavily slow KENTA.
Ishii showed near frustration with KENTA as he landed blow after blow to his challenger. KENTA would respond by sitting cross legged, and Ishii answered in kind, the two sitting and exchanging heavy slaps at the 15 minute mark. KENTA locked in a Shibata like sleeper hold, but an ensuing PK was caught by Ishii.
Ishii would go for a Vertical Drop Brainbuster, but GoD would head to ringside. Ishii would deal with both men, before hitting his originally intended move on KENTA, only to see the referee pulled from the ring by Tonga. Guerrilla Warfare would follow on Ishii and KENTA was thrown on top of Ishii, but the champion still managed to roll a shoulder.
The damage ensued made an Ishii defeat only inevitable however. Ishii kicked out of a powerful KENTA right hand, but not the Go2Sleep that followed as KENTA lifted the NEVER Openweight Championship.
5th Match: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) defeated Aussie Open (Mark Owens and Kyle Fletcher) when Loa pinned Fletcher to retain the IWGP Tag Team Championships.
The hot Copper Box crowd engaged in dueling ‘Aussie Open’ and ‘GoD’ chants at the start of the matchup. Aussie Open had the early advantage, as Tanga Loa found himself on the receiving end of kicks from Fletcher and Owens. It was only a matter of time before Master Heater Jado got involved howewver, with a cane shot to Fletcher that swung momentum in the champions’ corner.
Fletcher would be fairly dominated by GoD, with Loa hitting an impactful spear and long delayed Jackhammer. Fletcher would finally tag in Davis, and the powerhouse of the team would level both members of GoD with lariats before Fletcher flew in with a tope suicida. The challengers would show their tag team effectiveness, with a series of impressive double team maneuvers before Jado again got involved.
Jado’s cane would distract Davis long enough to be attacked by Loa, and allow Tonga to hit the Tongan Twist on Fletcher. Fletcher would kick out of the ensuing splash though, and Aussie Open defused a Super Powerbomb by the champions. Fletcher would hit a huge dive to Loa on the floor, but their Fidget Spinner finish was countered to a Gunstun on Fletcher, and then a Loa Apesh*t on Davis. A Super Powerbomb later and the champions retained.
4th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) defeated BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Chase Owens) when SANADA submitted Owens.
Naito and White toyed with one another at the start, as White was reluctant to engage. Owens and SANADA would get things underway properly. Though SANADA would show early finesse, BULLET CLUB engaged in typically effective if morally questionable team work, taking control on SANADA. Cold Skull would land a big dropkick to Owens, and though White would prevent a tag being made, it was only for an instant, as Naito entered and cleaned house.
SANADA would secure a particularly satisfying Paradise Lock on Owens to the delight of the London crowd, but Owens showed impressive tenacity in changing the flow of the match in BULLET CLUB’s favour, before again tagging in White to take control on SANADA. Owens was unable to secure a Package Piledriver however and moments later, would submit to Skull End from SANADA.
Post match, White entered the ring with a chair and levelled SANADA. When he tried to swing for Naito however, the result was a sidestep and Destino from Naito, who then showed he could cover the Switchblade for a visual pinfall.
3rd Match: Birds of Prey (Robbie Eagles & Will Ospreay) defeated BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo) when Ospreay pinned Phantasmo.
Eagles, and especially Ospreay, got a mammoth reaction from his home country crowd, and although ELP and Ishimori tried to get the jump on the CHAOS pair, Eagles and Ospreay quickly took control, and Eagles hit a stunning dive to the floor. BULLET CLUB would take control however, and Phantasmo would hit a series of moonsaults and quebradas to Eagles before Ishimori took control.
When Eagles could create distance, Ospreay joined proceedings in spectacular form, scoring some huge offense on Phantasmo. With Eagles back in, the Australian started to target the knee of Ishimori, but would be cut off by a sliding German suplex as the IWGP Junior Tag Champions again took control, including with a spectacular moonsault to Eagles’ back while being held over Ishimori’s knees.
A Turbo Backpack allowed Eagles to get another tag to Ospreay, and the ‘Birds of Prey’ would unleash some amazing tandem offense, electrifying the Copper Box. A double team Spanish Fly, dubbed Red Wing in honour of the Amazing Red, and Ospreay and Eagles scored victory.
Post match, Ospreay got on the microphone. Ospreay said that Phantasmo may have challenged him for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, but that he and Eagles would challenge for the tag titles in return.
2nd match: Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson defeated BULLET CLUB (Hikuleo & Yujiro Takahashi) when Ibushi pinned Hikuleo.
Hikuleo looked to make a statement early, going to work on Kota Ibushi, showing immense power to lariat the G1 winner even as Juice Robinson got involved. Yujiro would continue to work over Ibushi, who seemed to be feeling lingering issues from the grueling summer.
Robinson would be effective against the BULLET CLUB side, but Hikuleo again impressed with a huge snap powerslam with Ibushi back in. The Golden Star would eventually fire up, however, with a double overhead kick to Hikuleo and Takahashi, before a Boma Ye and Kamigoye for the victory.
1st Match: Roppongi 3K (SHO, YOH & Rocky Romero) defeated Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Ryusuke Taguchi when SHO pinned Narita.
Despite the crowd chanting ‘Funky Weapon’ for Taguchi, it was Umino starting out against YOH, and making good strides, with a big dropkick and forearms. When SHO got in however, the experience of RPG3K as a team paid off, and the CHAOS side took control.
Umino’s strength training paid off as he delivered a huge brainbuster to Romero, and then tagged in Taguchi, who cleaned house with a barrage of hip attacks. Ren Narita would hit a massive front suplex to SHO and lock in a leg lace Boston Crab, but he couldn’t maintain advantage for long as YOH cut the Young Lion off. After bodies flew all over, Narita was eventually left in the ring with SHO, and showed immense tenacity before eventually taking the Powerbreaker (SHO’s name for his elevated lungblower) for the RPG3K victory.