The show started off with an emotional video package featuring some of Tiger Hattori’s greatest moments, cut together with an interview of the legendary NJPW referee. It highlighted how significant his impact has been on the business, as well as reminding us of how many great matches he has been a part of. Whilst his retirement event may not have been to the high standards of this year’s The New Beginning or Wrestle Kingdom, there were some solid team-ups and dream matches that saw members of L.I.J., Bullet Club, Suzuki-gun, and CHAOS all take to the ring.

Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, & Toa Henare defeated Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji, & Yuya Uemura

Makabe and Tsuji started things off with some powerful back and forth strikes, setting the tone for the rest of the match. It was a strong match that showed off the toughness of the veterans and the Young Lions. Henare got in some hard chops on Tsuji’s chest, and Honma tagged in to continue the assault.

After great resilience, the lions got some momentum when they delivered a triple team attack to Henare in the corner, following it up with a three-way dropkick. Henare was able to deliver a textbook clothesline on Gabriel Kidd, following it up with a Uranage and a three-count. All six men carried on the fight after the bell, leading them to the outside of the ring where Makabe, Honma, and Henare left the lions lying on the floor.

Will Ospreay, YOH, & SHO defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Rocky Romero, & Tiger Mask

It’s always a joy to watch Will Ospreay in a wrestling ring. He’s improved so much over the last few years, becoming more than just a high-flyer, implementing a stronger grappling game without the need to jump through the air. This was a decent match, proving why Roppongi 3K deserve to be IWGP Tag Team Champions. YOH and Taguchi got tangled up early on, going back and forth with reverse roll-ups, wearing out the referee and the commentary.

Rocky Romero elevated the match when he delivered a pop-up Hurricanrana on Will Ospreay, following up his dominance with one of his famous knee strikes on SHO. Ryusuke Taguchi and Rocky Romero had been the two main players for their team, but Tiger Mask made sure his presence was felt when he delivered an epic Butterfly suplex on Will Ospreay from the top rope.

Ospreay took an opportunity to hurt Tiger Mask with a Cheeky Nandos, then dropped him with the Strombreaker to lead YOH, SHO, and himself to victory. The tag team champs are set to face off against the Mega Coaches tomorrow night, and after the match things got a little heated, but Ospreay managed to stop all hell from breaking loose.

Yoshi-Hashi, Juice Robinson, & David Finlay defeated BUSHI, EVIL, & Hiromu Takahashi

Any match with Hiromu Takahashi is likely to be a good one, and with his LIJ team mates backing him up, we were treated to a fairly good match. It had a relatively slow start, but things picked up when Yoshi-Hashi got involved and delivered a Head Hunter to EVIL. There was a nice back and forth between Yoshi-Hashi and EVIL which saw near pinfalls from both men. Juice Robinson tagged in, only to face trouble in the form of BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi, but Juice’s partner David Finlay came to his rescue, helping him to drop BUSHI with a flapjack.

The match ended after FinJuice worked together to deliver Pulp Friction on BUSHI, leaving Los Ingobernables de Japon to lick their wounds at ringside. Whether you’re a fan of the Flamboyant Juice Robinson or not, there’s no denying he and Finlay can put on a show, leading the former tag team champions back on the path to victory.

Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, & Manabu Nakanishi defeated Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, El Desperado, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

When it comes to beat downs, nobody can deliver them quite like Suzuki-gun. Before the match had even started, they attack the old guard which led to a brawl outside. Back in the ring, and Tenzan delivered some Mongolian chops to Taichi, with Nakanishi joining in with some chops of his own. The tide turned when Red Shoes got distracted by Kanemaru, allowing Taichi to grab a steel chair and strike Nakanishi with it.

The match spilled to the outside again, which saw Taichi choke Nakanishi on the railings. Getting in before the count-out, Nakanishi ran into an armbar from Suzuki in the corner of the ring. This led to another attack from all members of Suzuki-gun, except this time they all attack Nakanishi. He managed to fight back against Suzuki and tag in Nagata, who exploded against Suzuki.

Kojima stood against Kanemaru and hit with some pretty hard machine gun chops, before Nakanishi came back in, delivered a double suplex on El Desperado and Kanemaru, before landing a lariat on Kanemaru for the win. Suzuki was clearly not happy with the result as he went berserk with a steel chair outside the ring, but inside the ropes, all four victors celebrated together. It was a good match that allowed Nakanishi one last rumble with Suzuki-gun, and proved that even though he’s retiring on Saturday, the old dog still has some new tricks.

 Colt Cabana, Toru Yano, Kota Ibushi, & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Guerillas of Destiny, Bad Luck Fale, & Jay White

This was the first of two matches Tiger Hattori would referee in his career-closing show, and what a way to go out. Colt Cabana and Toru Yano put on a comedic masterclass as they argue over who should go first until they both got jumped by Fale and Jay White. They pull off a double tag to Ibushi and Tanahashi, leaving the Ace and Golden Star to work out who should get going next. They worked together for a while, hitting a double backdrop and moonsault on Tama Tonga. Jado landed a kendo stick whilst the referee wasn’t looking, which let the arrogant Jay White go to work on Tanahashi with a half Boston crab.

Bad Luck Fale tagged in next, and in the minutes that followed, fellow Bullet Club members all jumped in to beat down Tanahashi. He finally managed to tag in Ibushi who almost finished Tonga off with the Kamigoye, but he managed to avoid it. Ibushi landed a double flip kick on the Guerillas of Destiny and tagged in Colt Cabana. Jay White also tagged in, allowing Cabana to get in some good strikes to White. Colt Cabana was forced to fight Bad Luck Fale as Toru Yano wanted no piece of the action, but finally got involved. The Bullet Club almost got the win when Fale dropped an elbow on Yano, which was broken up by their opponents.

The match ended when Yano kicked Fale in the nuts before hitting a backslide pin. It was a fun match if only for the fact Yano was a part of it, but there wasn’t enough of Ibushi and Tanahashi. The Bullet Club did their usual cheap shot shtick which can get tired fast. Thankfully, the best moment of the match came when Hattori low-blowed Jado and Gedo after they tried to stand up to the ref.

SANADA, Shingo Takagi, & Tetsuya Naito defeated Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, and Kazuchika Okada

It was almost the end of Tiger Hattori’s career, and emotionally it seemed to be getting to him. Still, he had one final job to do, and it proved to be good but not great, even though both teams consisted of some of the best in NJPW right now. Ishii was as tough as ever, but Shingo refused to fall to him. The two exchanged blows until Ishii managed to barge him over.

Goto ended up taking quite a bit of punishment from LIJ, what with Naito and the remaining members triple-teaming him. SANADA continued to build the pressure against Goto, but he was able to hit a neckbreaker before tagging in Okada. The Rainmaker delivered a DDT to Naito, and the two went at it, acting as an epilogue to Wrestle Kingdom. Naito went for a swinging DDT, but Okada hit a reverse neckbreaker on the double champ.

Once again, Ishii and Shingo stood toe-to-toe, except this time they were feeling fatigued. It didn’t stop them brawling again, but Ishii was stopped thanks to a lariat. Hirooki Goto and SANADA came back in, and somehow SANADA blocked two Ushigoroshis before dropping him with a low dropkick. LIJ got involved, but Goto managed to pull SANADA in for a third attempt with the Ushigoroshi. Somehow, SANADA rolled him up for the pin, ending the match and also Tiger Hattori’s NJPW refereeing career.

As for the retirement ceremony, it couldn’t have been any better. CHAOS came out to give Hattori flowers, and Okada dropped to the mat so he could ‘pin’ him. There were A LOT of flowers; Hiroshi Tanahashi, Harold Meij, and Naoki Sugabayashi all delivered bouquets. Everyone you could imagine came to the ring, including surprise appearances from The Great Kabuki and Hiroshi Hase.

There were video messages from Genichiro Tenryu and Antonio Inoki, which were followed by Tiger Hattori taking to the microphone. It was a heartfelt speech that saw him say how grateful he was, how much fun he’d had, and also thanked everyone for their support. The bell rang 10 times, and the roster helped to celebrate one final time as Hattori bowed before everyone at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The event had some good matches, but the ceremony was the best part, delivering a fitting tribute to a great man. Sayonara, Tiger-san.

All media courtesy of NJPW World.

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