NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed: EVIL pins Kota Ibushi in main event tag

Welcome to our coverage of New Japan’s Fighting Spirit Unleashed card from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

This is the only one of the three shows on the U.S. tour that is airing live on New Japan World. We did hear from several people that attended the Friday night card in Lowell, Massachusetts that said the show was being filmed.

This show is only being broadcast with Japanese commentary on New Japan World.

There ended up being a massive delay and the 7 pm start time was delayed until just before 8.

A representative from New Japan and Rocky Romero came out to apologize.

The show did not get started until 8:30 pm.

Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com reported that a call was made earlier in the day to the ambulance service stating the show was canceled. New York requires an ambulance to be on-site and led to the company scrambling and caused the 90-minute delay.

REN NARITA VS TJP

TJP played heel and the audience easily got behind Narita.

Narita applied the Narita Special and TJP reached the rope. TJP would assume control but Narita was constantly putting up a fight and standing up to him. TJP applied the kneebar, was pulled to the center and Narita escaped the hold.

TJP hit the Detonation Kick and applied a Regal Strech for the victory.

WINNER: TJP at 8:47

It was a fine opening match and to their credit, the crowd was into the match despite the massive delay. As always, Narita had strong facial reactions and fire that he always excels with.

LANCE ARCHER VS KARL FREDERICKS

Archer played bully while Fredericks tried to stand up to him. Archer did the top rope walk and hit a moonsault off it. Fredericks got his moment to shine where he got on offense and fired up that ended when he was hit with a pounce and uranage. Archer hit a chokeslam but lifted Fredericks up and used the EBD Claw to win.

WINNER: Lance Archer at 7:37

It was a decent match that gave a bit to Fredericks but more so, was a showcase for Archer in a short match.

JUICE ROBINSON & MIKEY NICHOLLS VS CLARK CONNORS & ALEX COUGHLIN

This turned into a strong tag match and put a lot of attention to the young lions. They have the advantage of Robinson until Nicholls received the tag. Connors got a big spotlight with spears delivered to Robinson and Nicholls and then powerslams to each. Connor and Coughlin applied simultaneous Boston Crabs that the two escaped from. Robinson sent Connors to the floor after a big exchange of chops and Nicholls got the fall on Coughlin.

WINNERS: Mikey Nicholls (pinned Alex Coughlin) & Juice Robinson in 8:29

GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY & JADO VS ROPPONGI 3K & ROCKY ROMERO

Early on, SHO got to demonstrate his power with several German suplexes on Tanga Loa and put him on the level of the heavyweights. Romero was featured a lot with a wind up into an eye poke to Jado and the Forever clotheslines. G.O.D. was alone with Romero and went for the Magic Killer and was stopped when SHO speared Loa. 3K double-teamed Tonga and then SHO was hit with a Gun Stun and YOH superkicked Tonga out. Jado hit YOH with the kendo stick and Loa lifted Romero and threw him into a Gun Stun and Tonga pinned him.

WINNERS: Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado in 10:47

There was were very good sequences with G.O.D. and Roppongi 3K while Romero was a nice addition to the match with a cool end to the match with the unique set up for the Gun Stun.

HIROSHI TANAHASHI & THE ROCK ‘N ROLL EXPRESS VS TETSUYA NAITO, SHINGO TAKAGI & BUSHI

This was such a fun match for the time it went. The audience loved the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express, who worked as hard as you could expect at their age. Naito spit in Morton’s face and Bushi choked him with his shirt. Morton and Gibson each took turns with Takagi, who just did basic stuff with them and the crowd ate it up. It led to a triple-team dropkick as Tanahashi, Morton, and Gibson sent Naito to the floor and Morton hit Takagi with a suicide dive. Tanahashi hit Bushi with the sling blade and High Fly Flow for the cover.

WINNERS: Hiroshi Tanahashi & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express at 10:19

They announced this match was the final match Tiger Hattori will ref in the United States and the audience chanted for Hattori. They brought his family into the ring, including grandchildren and everyone cheered. Hattori was presented with flowers and it was a nice scene for him.

JAY WHITE, CHASE OWENS & GEDO VS HIROOKI GOTO, TOMOHIRO ISHII & AMAZING RED

The match focused on Jay White and Hirooki Goto with White escaping Goto at the end but took an Ushigoroshi. Red and Owens had great chemistry and a strong sequence in the middle of the match that highlighted Red’s acrobatics and was a spotlight on Owens ability to play a great base for the maneuvers. When Ishii was beaten down, Gedo was tagged in and was there for the light-hearted moments. In the end, Goto avoided the Blade Runner and caught White with an Ushigoroshi before White bailed to the floor. Goto hit the Ushigoroshi and reverse GTR on Gedo for the victory.

WINNERS: Hirooki Goto (pinned Gedo), Tomohiro Ishii & Amazing Red at 12:02

The match was fine, and it was building up White and Goto’s eventual match for the Intercontinental title. I could see people wanting to see more of a showcase for Red, who was the fresh face on this card and someone the audience cared about. Owens and Red worked great together but it was short.

KENTA VS YOSHI-HASHI FOR THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE

The first ten minutes dragged as it was all KENTA with no offense from Yoshi-Hashi. The crowd was behind KENTA at the start but flipped and booed him with KENTA getting a good amount of heat. Yoshi-Hashi fought back and displayed intensity. KENTA hit the running dropkick in the corner but was caught with a slap and kick. Yoshi-Hashi was punching downward into KENTA’s guard, allowing the champion to easily transition and apply Game Over until a rope break.

KENTA pulled referee Marty Asami in front as a shield and was knocked to the floor. This led to the Guerrillas of Destiny running in and were ejected by Tiger Hattori for a big spot.

The closing minutes were excellent with some great drama, Yoshi-Hashi got some big near falls, including a huge one when he hit the KUMAGOROSHI and KENTA sold tremendously. KENTA reached the rope from the Butterfly Lock and they traded INSANE slaps that were brutal, especially from KENTA. The champion hit the Busaiku knee and Go to Sleep for the win.

WINNER: KENTA at 25:04 to retain the NEVER Openweight title

While the start was slow, I enjoyed this match a lot and thought it was one of Yoshi-Hashi’s best in the longest time. KENTA is excellent in the heel role and the closing stretch was tremendous. This was my favorite match of the show, so far.

KAZUCHIKA OKADA & KOTA IBUSHI VS EVIL & SANADA

The match had a strong atmosphere at the beginning and Okada is a tremendous live event performer when it comes to interaction, especially on these U.S. dates.

This is the two top matches for King of Pro Wrestling, and they broke off throughout the match.

Sanada did a backflip off the turnbuckle and applied Skull End to Okada but it was broken up. Sanada ducked a Rainmaker.

Ibushi was in with EVIL and avoided Everything is Evil while shoving EVIL into a tombstone from Okada. Ibushi landed a Bom a Ye to Sanada, tried to lawn dart EVIL and then ate a suplex as all four were down.

It ended with Okada and Sanada disappearing to the floor and Ibushi was left with EVIL. Ibushi missed with Kamigoye and EVIL missed another Everything is Evil but nailed Ibushi with a hard lariat and then hit Everything is Evil on the final try and pinned Ibushi clean.

WINNERS: EVIL (pinned Kota Ibushi) & Sanada at 18:46

It was a solid main event for this level of a show, I didn’t think it topped the NEVER Openweight title match but I liked the booking of the end, a lot.

EVIL needed the win the most among the four as Sanada already got his pinfall on Okada in the G1 and neither Okada or Ibushi should be winning before King of Pro Wrestling.

The work was strong and both matches should be excellent in two weeks.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Well, the 90-minute delay killed my hopes of watching the Bellator card tonight because this show would have ended at 9:45 pm and instead was 11:15 pm.

This was an easy and enjoyable show with nothing bad on it. I really enjoyed the top two matches, especially KENTA vs. Yoshi-Hashi, which is my top recommendation. The six-man tag involving the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express was a lot of fun to watch, so those are the top three on the show.

It was a high-end New Japan “B show” and I thought this lineup was better than the overall Destruction cards in Beppu and Kagoshima. The audience added a lot to the show and didn’t let the delay kill their enthusiasm as they were there to have a great time and didn’t let anything ruin it.

It isn’t a show that is “must-see”, but it’s hard to complain about much on this card as a good set up for the Sumo Hall on October 14th.

About John Pollock 3366 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.