CEO x NJPW: When Worlds Collide
Daytona Beach, FL
**You can stream this entire show on CEOGaming’s Twitch channel**
Welcome to POST Wrestling’s coverage of CEO x NJPW: When Worlds Collide.
The show begins after about a 50 minute delay. Your commentators are eSports fighting game broadcasters Goldenboy, Rynge and Logan Sama.
DARK MATCH: CHASYN RANCE VS. AARON EPIC
After some early back and forth, Epic takes control. The two exchange rollups and stiff forearm strikes.
Rance dives off with a top rope splash for 2. A superkick from Rance sends Epic to the floor before he follows up with a tope suicida.
Back in the ring, Epic delivers a cutter, penalty kick and double-underhook piledriver combo for 2.
Rance delivers a springboard dropkick, followed up with his finisher: a piledriver with his opponent draped between the middle and top rope, for the victory.
WINNER: CHASYN RANCE AT 7:53
The booking of Rance, a registered sex offender, is a move that has immediately faced online criticism and will likely become a lasting talking point about this show. The match itself felt very average, perhaps a little bit slower and sloppier compared to the New Japan standard.
There are some technical issues with the production involving poorly colour-balanced cameras and a lack of crowd audio coverage. However, the stage looks good and they have a lot of camera angles for coverage. The commentators appear to be genuine wrestling fans with varying degrees of New Japan-specific knowledge.
UPDATE 6/30 4:39pm: Kenny Omega has tweeted a statement regarding Chasyn Rance’s appearance here.
DDT’s Michael Nakazawa takes the mic says he’s here to show the audience one thing, that by simply being Japanese, he is better than “you people”.
Nakawaza taunts the CEO crowd by saying that all Japanese gamers are far better than American gamers. He says the same goes for wrestlers.
Nakazawa opens up a challenge for any American in the Ocean Center to face him.
An unnamed young man dressed in wrestling trunks and a varsity jacket walks to the ring to presumably accept the challenge. Nakazawa taunts him about his skinniness but allows him to introduce himself.
Before the man can get his name out, Nakazawa kicks him in the gut and proceeds to start the match.
DARK MATCH: MICHAEL NAKAZAWA VS. ???
The unnamed man shows a bit of life to start, but the larger Nakazawa quickly stops his momentum with a spear and Angle Slam for 2.
Nakazawa reaches into his trunks and masterfully undresses a pair of thong underwear without removing his outer trunks, wraps the thong around his hand, and proceeds to “Iron Claw” his opponent for the submission victory.
WINNER: MICHAEL NAKAZAWA AT 1:15
Nakazawa throws the thong into the audience, but the audience throws it back.
Nakazawa continues the open challenge, threatening to beat up Americans until there are none left in the building or, until he runs out of underwear.
This time, the challenge is answered by CEO Gaming founder Alex Jebailey, who appears in a wheelchair due to an apparent Achilles tendon injury.
Jebailey reveals that he has been training for months to be here. He says he’ll need a crutch in order to participate, but Nakazawa kicks it away from him before calling for the bell.
DARK MATCH: MICHAEL NAKAZAWA VS. ALEX JEBAILEY
For no apparent reason, Nakazawa uses baby oil on himself before applying a spinning toe hold to the injured Jebailey.
He pours baby oil onto Jebailey before delivering a double stomp/senton combo for 2. The crowd chants, “CEO”.
A rear waistlock is applied by Jebailey, but due to the baby oil, Nakazawa escapes. Nakazawa’s baby oil backfires as Jebailey too, escapes his German Suplex attempt.
Jebailey delivers a scoop slam followed up by an elbow drop for 2.
Nakazawa attempts a Figure 4, but Jebailey reaches the ropes.
Nakazawa rips another pair of thong underwear from his trunks as he prepares the Iron Claw. Jebailey deflects this attempt and instead forces Nakazawa to “thong-claw” the referee (I can’t believe I’m covering this while John is away).
With the ref incapacitated, Jebailey attacks Nakazawa with his crutch, delivers a big boot (with his cast) and proceeds to deliver an Attitude Adjustment to Nakazawa for the win.
WINNER: ALEX JEBAILEY AT 4:00
I was impressed with Nakazawa’s promos and his ability to rile up the crowd. Make no mistake, the match was terrible. However, as a cameo created for the CEO audience, this was fun and seemed to entertain the live crowd. If this is your first time experiencing DDT, there’s a very good chance you would’ve either hated or been very offended by Nakazawa.
Kenny Omega enters the ring to congratulate Jebailey and address the crowd before the main card.
Omega says what we have just seen are two matches, one of which you’ll never see at a gaming convention, one of which you’ll never see in a New Japan ring. That is definitely true.
Omega says even though they had a late start, even though it’s almost bedtime, they will have a great evening of matches.
Jebailey insists that his Achilles tendon injury is legitimate. He suffered the tear while practicing the “Jefailey dropkick” from the top rope last week.
Jebailey is proud to share the ring with Omega, who he calls “the greatest human being I have ever met in this industry”.
During the intermission, an ad for Fire Pro Wrestling World for the PS4 runs featuring Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi, voiced by Kevin Kelly.
ROCKY ROMERO VS. JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER
Liger receives a tremendous ovation to start.
Romero offers to shake hands, but Liger is apprehensive. He finally does at the crowd’s urging, but Romero kicks him in the gut.
Romero hits a tope suicida to Liger on the floor. He follows up by crotching Liger against the post on the outside.
Back in the ring, the two exchange chops. A low dropkick begins Romero’s targeting of Liger’s knee.
Liger fights back and applies a Romero Special and Dragon Sleeper. A shotei misses and Romero hits a Hurricanrana before delivering his running clotheslines to the corner. Romero’s Sliced Bread No. 2 receives a 2-count.
Liger with a superplex for a near fall. Romero’s brief comeback is stopped by a shotei and a Ligerbomb that delivers Liger the victory.
WINNER: JUSHIN LIGER AT 10:43
This was about on par with most of the Liger matches I’ve seen in recent memory, which is to say that they are nothing memorable, but they give you a satisfying fix of the Liger experience with his signature moves, in-ring charisma and entrance.
Romero played an over-the-top heel relying on old school tricks that all seemed to work well enough with this crowd (again, tough to tell with the lack of crowd audio).
It also needs to be stated that some of the camera shading appeared to get progressively worse by this point in the show, with ringside cameras in particular appearing so dark and muddied that it was tough to see some of the action on the floor.
GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY VS. JUICE ROBINSON & DAVID FINLAY
Loa immediately targets Robinson’s broken left hand, an injury caused by Jay White during the Kizuna Road tour earlier this month.
Heels cut Juice Robinson off from his corner for a long time. Finlay finally tags in and after a big comeback, is cut off by a powerslam from Loa. G.O.D. hit an Aided Tongan Twist onto Finlay for 2.
A double suplex is countered by Juice into a double neckbreaker. Juice fires up and gives middle fingers to his opponents using his broken and non-broken hands.
Tonga catches Juice with a Gun Stun, but a Gun Stun to Finlay is countered with a Uranage backbreaker for 2.
Finlay sets up a suplex, but Tonga escapes and this time, successfully hits the Gun Stun onto Finlay for the win.
WINNERS: GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY AT 14:21
An average match. Good selling from Juice, who the crowd seemed to strongly get behind as a babyface despite the popularity of the Bullet Club in Daytona Beach. Guerrillas of Destiny seem perfectly satisfied with their cool heel receptions.
CHASE OWENS VS. JEFF COBB
Owens establishes himself as the heel early by constantly complaining to the referee about Cobb’s non-existent illegal tactics.
Cobb dismantles Owens with a variety of overhead suplexes. Cobb is tied up in the top rope and Owens drags Cobb’s head into it to gain advantage.
Owens riles up the crowd for a big move before disappointing them with a rear chinlock. He delivers a superkick to a grounded Cobb. Owens does the Bullet Club “suck it” crotch chops but Cobb cuts him off with a standing dropkick.
Big chops from Cobb. He catches Owens with a standing moonsault for 2. Cobb’s spinning belly-to-back suplex gets 2.
Cobb no-sells multiple running boots from Owens. They exchange stiff strikes in the centre of the ring. Owens nails a standing enziguri and hits the Jewel Heist for 2.
Owens attempts the Package Piledriver but Cobb fights out and delivers a big lariat before the Tour of the Islands for the victory.
WINNER: JEFF COBB AT 12:53
It was a little tough for me to buy the oversized Cobb as the underdog in this match against Owens. I wanted to see more of Cobb’s spectacular offence but this match seemed to favour him enduring Owens’ attacks and fighting from underneath. That said, I thought Owens showed a lot of personality and played a fun, traditional heel. A decent exhibition.
We take another 10 minute intermission.
ROPPONGI 3K VS. DRAGON LEE & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI
There is a “Funky Weapon” chant for Taguchi to start.
Yoh and Taguchi trade hip attack attempts before criss-crossing the ropes in a comical test of endurance. They both eventually run out of steam with Yoh collapsing onto a fallen Taguchi for a 2 count.
With the comedy out of the way, Dragon Lee and Sho Tanaka tag in and engage in an exchange of stiff forearms to the crowd’s delight.
3K quickly dispose of Taguchi and double team Dragon Lee in their corner. Yoh taunts Taguchi by using the hip attack on Lee. Dragon Lee is forced to fight off both men, delivering a standing Spanish Fly to Sho before finally tagging in Taguchi, who unleashes a barrage of running hip attacks, a plancha, and a tope con giro to both members of 3K.
3K manager Rocky Romero then runs in and teases attacking Taguchi with his own hip attack, but Taguchi dodges and instead hip attacks Romero.
The 3K is blocked by Taguchi, who successfully unleashes a hip attack to Yoh but is countered with an Atomic Drop from Sho. Dragon Lee hops over the top rope from the ring to the apron to send Sho to the floor with a Hurricanrana. Taguchi does his Nakamura taunts before setting up a final hip attack, but it’s countered by Yoh for a near fall.
Taguchi’s Dodon is countered by Yoh’s Five Star Clutch, but Taguchi counters that with a Gedo Clutch for the victory.
WINNERS: RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & DRAGON LEE AT 14:08
Aside from a brief appearance in an eight-man tag at the most recent Long Beach show, I haven’t seen much of Taguchi’s North American appearances and have wondered how his brand of comedy would translate. This audience LOVED him even before the first exchange and all of his spots worked perfectly.
The match delivered the type of action you’ve come to expect from the remaining three. Great stiff striking from Sho and Lee, good comedy and great chained counters from Yoh & Taguchi in the finish. A fun, fast paced match.
TETSUYA NAITO & HIROMU TAKAHASHI VS. THE GOLDEN LOVERS
Hiromu arrives with his Best of the Super Juniors trophy and Daryl Jr. Naito calls for the ring announcer and cameraman to open the ring ropes for him. Dissatisfied with their poor efforts, Naito rolls into the ring under the bottom rope.
The announcers discuss the influence video games have had on Kenny Omega’s professional wrestling career. They describe the feeling of being able to call this match as “unreal”.
Before the match, the crowd engages in dueling chants of “Golden Lovers” and “LIJ”. All 5 participants (including Daryl Jr.) are very popular.
Hiromu decides to let Daryl Jr. start the match against Ibushi. The crowd starts chanting “Daryl”. As Ibushi cautiously approaches the cat, Hiromu schoolboys him from behind for 2.
The Golden Lovers’ Cross Slash is thwarted when Naito and Takahashi climb onto the apron, delivering tandem neckbreakers onto the apron to Ibushi and Omega.
On the floor, LIJ double team suplex Omega onto the ramp, leading them to focus their attacks on Omega’s lower back.
Ibushi tags in and exchanges forearm strikes with Naito, following up with a standing moonsault for 2.
The Golden Lovers successfully execute the Cross Slash on their second attempt, followed by a double team You Can’t Escape onto Naito for 2. The Golden Trigger is blocked when Takahashi pulls Omega to the floor.
Takahashi and Ibushi engage in a very fast paced exchange, culminating in a pop-up powerbomb from Takahashi for 2.
Omega grabs Takahashi and instructs Ibushi to springboard from the apron for the PK Kokuro. Takahashi fights Omega off and sunset flip powerbombs Ibushi off the apron to the floor, with Ibushi landing at a VERY high angle on his head. This looked frightening.
Back in the ring, Takahashi hits Ibushi with the Time Bomb for 2. Omega hits Takahashi with a snap dragon suplex. Naito hits Omega with a Tornado DDT. Ibushi hits Naito with a lariat. All 4 men are down as the crowd chants “This is awesome”.
Both exhausted, Ibushi and Takahashi exchange forearms in the middle of the ring. Omega tags in and hits a delayed cross-legged fisherman neckbreaker and V-Trigger onto Takahashi. He sets up for the Fallen Angel, Takahashi escapes with a Hurricanrana, but is met with another V-Trigger after a quick exchange.
Ibushi and Omega then deliver their powerbomb/German suplex combo onto Naito, followed by the PK Kokuro onto Takahashi for 2. A Golden Trigger onto Takahashi finally gives the Golden Lovers the victory.
WINNERS: GOLDEN LOVERS AT 21:57
A very good match between four of New Japan’s most popular stars. A great showcase of the Golden Lovers’ creative and improving tandem offence, as well as the incredible charismas of Naito and Takahashi. A real shame about the audio mixing of this show as I feel this match would’ve come across even better with an appropriate representation of the live crowd’s reactions. Nonetheless, a worthy addition to the Golden Lovers 2018 catalogue.
CEO x NJPW: When Worlds Collide provided an semi-authentic New Japan Pro Wrestling live experience for an international crowd at a video game convention. It was a card of exhibition matches with a big main event and several other mid-card acts.
It was never intended to be a major show, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the card might’ve looked like if Kenny’s other Bullet Club friends weren’t busy with Ring of Honor this evening.
Production-wise, between the often distracting video shading issues and lack of crowd mix, this is a far step below the standard set by New Japan and other major wrestling promotions.
The announcers, when you consider that they aren’t traditionally wrestling commentators, do a commendable job. Despite minor errors here and there (“Battle of the Super Juniors”, not recognizing or miscalling signature moves), they sound professional and effectively convey their passion for the New Japan product.
The dark matches that rounded out the show are likely occurrences that a New Japan fan would rather forget. Michael Nakazawa was a lot of fun, though.
This would have been a great show to go to if I was already in town for a video game convention. For the fan watching at home, I’d recommend checking out the main event and saving up your appetite for next week’s G1 Special and subsequent G1 Climax offerings.