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By Matthew Macklin on 2018-03-06 16:32:00

NJPW 46th Anniversary Show:

KUSHIDA, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Shota Umino, Tetsuhiro Yagi, Ren Narita, Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata.  This was pretty short and with so many in the match, it was hard for anyone to really stand out.  It was fun for what it was. Tiger Mask wasn't messing around with Narita. Umino looked very good against KUSHIDA. The finish saw KUSHIDA submit Umino to an armbar.

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano defeated Toa Henare, Juice Robinson & David Finlay.  This started with Henare challenging Ishii to a fight.  Yano & Finlay went back and forth. Juice showed all the babyface fire with his hot tag and delivered Juice punches to all three.  The final stretch saw Henare put in a good effort against Goto before he was dropped with the GTR.

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated SHO & YOH and BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi.  New champions yet again. It's getting hard to keep up with these titles.  This was a really fun match, but nothing spectacular. The Suzuki-Gun team worked the back of SHO, which has been an ongoing story since Wrestle Kingdom. YOH also took some heat.  BUSHI and Hiromu were the odd team out here.  They were never really a focus of the match, so a straight tag would probably have been better, saving the LIJ team for the next challenge. The finish here was great. It involved BUSHI's black mist, Kanemaru spraying whiskey and a distracted ref allowing Desperado to roll up SHO and steal the titles.

SANADA defeated YOSHI-HASHI.  For a cold match on the middle of a pretty big show. This was given a lot more time than expected and YOSHI looked like a major threat to SANADA. They have history as they both tried out for NJPW on the same day, with YOSHI getting picked over SANADA.  SANADA controlled the pace until YOSHI made the comeback.  SANADA pulled out his spectacular double leap frog and a cross body to the floor.  He got a near fall with a TKO.  YOSHI got a big near fall with a small package and then after a lariat and powerbomb. SANADA managed to escape the butterfly lock after a long struggle.  YOSHI refused to submit to the Skull End, so SANADA released the hold and finished him after a moonsault.

Tetsuya Naito defeated Taichi.  I've never been much of a Taichi fan, but this was probably the best match I've ever seen him have. It probably didn't help that he was in the ring with Naito. Taichi jumped him before the bell and powerbombed him on the entrance ramp. Taichi then had control with Naito in the babyface role.  Taichi hit a backdrop driver and a nasty Last Ride for a big near fall. Naito dropped Taichi on his head with Gloria and had Destino blocked.  The ref was shoved, which allowed Taichi to hit a low blow and a Gedo Clutch for the closest near fall you can imagine. Naito turned things around and shoved the referee into TAKA Michinoku, and low blowed Taichi. He then broke his mic stand over his head and finished him with Destino.  This was great.

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Minoru Suzuki defeated Togi Makabe.  This was an excellent, stiff, brawl. Suzuki went after the knee and assaulted Makabe all over ringside as he usually does. Suzuki is just so much fun to watch when he's in control of a match.  Makabe made the comeback and missed the King Kong knee drop, which damaged his knee further. Suzuki then locked on a knee bar. Makabe got to the ropes and hit a great German suplex for a good near fall. They exchanges strikes. Makabe with the backhands, and Suzuki with the slaps. Suzuki got the advantage and dropped Makabe with the Gotch Piledriver to retain the title. Fantastic match.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion vs IWGP Jr Heavyweight Champion: Kazuchika Okada defeated Will Ospreay.  Here we had arguably the greatest heavyweight in the world against the greatest junior heavyweight in the world, so there was no way this wasn't going to be great. And considering the form both these guys are on, expectations were high. This was outstanding and obviously a match that everyone needs to see. The story saw Ospreay trying to prove himself against the man that brought him into NJPW and show how far he's come since their last meeting in 2015.

The counters here were amazing. They knew what each other was going to do before they did it. Ospreay's offence is far more than just flips. His striking game is as good as anyone's and he showed that here.  Ospreay had maybe the greatest counter to a Rainmaker ever. He floated over into a powerbomb in one motion. Ospreay nailed Okada with a Rainmaker and hit the imploding 450 for a great near fall. Okada countered the OsCutter into a Tombstone. The caught another OsCutter in mid air with a drop kick. The final nail came when Okada caught Ospreay mid flight as he went for a moonsault. He nailed a spinning Tombstone and one final Rainmaker to pick up a decisive win.  Excellent match!!

Up next is the beginning of the New Japan Cup on March 10th.

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