NJPW Southern Showdown’s second show of the tour took place on the 30th of June at Sydney’s University of New South Wales Roundhouse. The card featured a plethora of talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling who were largely supported by the Fale Dojo contingent that competed for the event.
Toks ‘Bad Luck’ Fale, founder and Head Trainer at Fale Dojo gave high praise to the Dojo graduates after the event. “The graduates stepped up and held their own,” said Fale. “It’s not easy to be on the same stage as the world-class talent from NJPW. Overall I was happy with them. Those results will show soon.”
— Tome Filip (@TomeFilip) August 19, 2019
The opening tag team bout featured Michael Richards and Andrew Villalobos against Tome and Stevie; the Filip Brothers. Tome and Stevie competed together in various sports throughout their lives beginning on the soccer field during their childhood, then transitioning to pro wrestling. Although Richards and Villalobos only met a year ago when their formal training began at Fale Dojo, they are also graduates from the New Japan Dojo.
Richards and Villalobos appeared wearing their black gear; the uniform that is worn by the young lions which symbolise the students’ stripped back identity and mindset while training at the NJPW Dojo and Fale Dojo. Their no-nonsense and intense approach was in contrast to the Filip brothers appearance as they came dressed in white ‘Natural Classics’ apparel.
Lloyd Morgan, the official for this match eased the almost unbreakable tension between the two teams before the match began. Villalobos and Stevie locked up which Villalobos gradually turned a rear waist lock. The move was reversed a few times between the two until Villalobos grounded Stevie with a waist lock takedown.
The Filips gained momentum when they referred to their repertoire of high impact combos and refined strong style strikes to wear down the opposition. However, when the brothers attempted a signature move where Tome held Richards in a fireman’s carry, Stevie charged against the rope aiming to kick Richards in the head, Villalobos intercepted and tripped Stevie dragging him to the outside allowing Richards to hop off behind Tome and execute a high back suplex.
While Villalobos prevented Stevie from getting back in the ring, Richards applied the Boston crab on Tome which forced the elder Filip brother to submit to the shock of the crowd as Loyd Morgan the referee called for the bell.
Winners: Richards and Villalobos
“It felt good to be in the opening match,” said Villalobos, an unknown to the Sydney crowd. Although he is from the same area, the Australian with Columbian heritage had the support of his loved ones.
“My family was present,” he stated. “They’ve seen me wrestle before but we’re very proud of the fact that I’ve made it this far.”
“Southern Showdown was a great experience,” Villalobos reflected. “I’m always looking to the future, I’m training hard and looking to get bigger and better to work again for New Japan Pro Wrestling. It’s just the beginning.”
Tony Kozina vs. Rocky Romero:
The next contest was a singles match featuring two Junior Heavyweights that have dominated different parts of the wrestling world. Tony Kozina, a 20 plus year veteran who has won multiple championships with the NWA, moved to Auckland, New Zealand in June 2018 where he took up the role of Pro Wrestling Head Coach at Fale Dojo. His opponent Rocky Romero has been an NJPW mainstay since 2010 and is a prominent member of New Japan’s Junior Heavyweight Division.
As Kozina approached the ring wearing his Fale Dojo shirt, he made it known to the crowd that he was ready. Kozina’s serious attitude was the opposite of his peer Romero, who appeared to the excitement of the crowd. Nicknamed the ‘King of Sneaky Style’, Romero came dancing to his entrance music while wearing a sparkling and eccentric jacket.
Kozina wasn’t having any of Romero’s shenanigans. The contrast of attitudes between the two opponents was complemented by their distinctive wrestling styles; Kozina, a largely aggressive mat-based technician, and Romero, known for his spectacular high flying and strong style approach.
Kozina took control early on using his mat skills but was soon outsmarted by Romero’s speed. Romero pursued Kozina on several occasions but failed to connect with a suicide dive when Kozina moved out of harm’s way. Romero again charged at Kozina at the corner turnbuckle to attempt his multiple corner clotheslines, but Kozina managed to see it coming and moved out of the way.
Romero was slowed down by Kozina’s aggressive behaviour which included some strikes and an eye gouge. Romero desperately attempted a sunset flip pin but Kozina rewarded Romero’s effort with a leaping double foot stomp onto his midsection.
Romero regained his momentum and executed a top rope dropkick onto Kozina who was hanging on the middle rope halfway across the ring. The effect of the move allowed Romero to finally hit the weary Kozina with the multiple corner clotheslines.
Having been the recipient of two signature moves from Romero’s repertoire, Kozina somehow made an unbelievable comeback when he was swung across the opposite turnbuckle only to flip over the top rope, placing himself on the canvas outside the ropes. As Romero charged towards Kozina, Kozina pulled Romero’s head in to deliver a guillotine clothesline on the top rope. The crowd responded to Kozina’s ability by chanting “ring awareness” as a gesture of their appreciation. However, Kozina wasn’t finished, as Romero got back on his feet, Kozina leapt back inside on the middle rope to hit a springboard elbow to everyone’s amazement. Kozina still wasn’t done, he then grabbed Romero and executed a piledriver into a pinfall attempt, but, the referee only reached a two count when Romero lifted his shoulder.
Kozina and Romero exchanged strikes before Romero hit a tornado DDT. Realising he couldn’t allow Kozina to regain momentum, Romero executed a falcon arrow suplex which put him in position to apply an armbar submission hold which he had to fight to lock in order for Kozina to tap out.
Romero picked up the victory and Kozina roled discretely out of the ring while the ‘King of Sneaky Style’ celebrated with the crowd.
“In a way, it felt like this was long overdue for me,” said Kozina regarding his NJPW debut match. “On the other hand, as a trainer, looking back with all my experiences, I can also give you a good handful of honest reason why it’s never happened! Regardless, I felt ready. I felt like I belong wrestling at this level, and I felt confident.”
“Add to that, the New Japan roster made me feel very welcomed, from the GM on down. I, and perhaps many wrestlers, spend a lot of time wondering if what I’m doing is on anyone’s radar if anyone notices if it means anything at all. The way I was treated by NJPW told me that indeed all that I’ve been working on means something in the industry, and to face Rocky, well, that was something I’ve wanted for a long, long time.”
“Hopefully this is the beginning of something more,” Kozina stated. “Something more with Rocky, and more with NJPW.”
Aaron Solow vs. Chase Owens:
This high profile encounter between Fale Dojo graduate Aaron Solow and Bullet Club’s Chase Owens could be regarded as Solow’s greatest test since winning the Dojo Pro Championship from Jeff Cobb in 2018.
Owens underestimated Solow early in the match. This allowed Solow to surprise his opponent with some high flying moves which embarrassed Owens. Solow then shifted his offence by executing a series of strong style chops, Owens countered with his own aggressive shots to slow down the pace in his favour.
Solow made several comebacks during the encounter incorporating his impeccable kickboxing strikes and areal assault. However, the experienced Owens was a step ahead again resetting the speed of the match back to his preference.
Owens went to attempt his finisher, the package piledriver, but Solow reversed the move into a sunset flip bomb into the turnbuckle and followed up with the t-bone suplex. Solow climbed to the top rope, but Owens shoved the referee into the ropes which made Solow lose his balance. Owens met Solow on the top rope to execute superplex all the way onto the mat. Owens hoped to get a three count pinfall, nevertheless, Solow lifted his shoulder before the referee could finalise the three count.
Owens and Solow traded forearm shots which soon evolved into trading superkicks. Owens got the best of the exchange when he leaned back against the middle rope and hit a devastating lariat that sent Solow crashing to the mat.
The cocky Owens then placed Solow in a fireman’s carry position, but before he could execute a move, Solow slid down into a sunset flip pinning attempt for a count of two. Owens attempted to hit Solow with a clothesline, but the young lion ducked underneath and hooked Owens arms into a backslide pinning attempt.
Owens then hit Solow with a knee strike to the face. This gave Owens the opening to set up his package piledriver for the second time, which he successfully executed. The referee made the three count, and Owens was declared the winner of this exciting match.
“Making my NJPW debut felt great,” said Solow reflecting on his experience with New Japan Pro Wrestling. “It was a goal of mine to wrestle for the company and now my next goal is to earn a permanent spot.”
“I enjoyed my match with Chase Owens,” Solow continued. “We have met before in the States doing independent shows but never wrestled each other until Southern Showdown in Sydney.”
“I’m glad our first match was under the New Japan banner and I would love to share the ring with him again in the future.”
“Mr Juicy” Gino Gambino and the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Toru Yano, Juice Robinson and Mikey Nicholls:
This six-man tag featured Fale Dojo graduate and Australian liaison Gino Gambino teaming up with his fellow Bullet Club members Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, going up against Toru Yano, Juice Robinson and Mikey Nicholls. This confrontation was a follow up from the Gambino and Taiji Ishimori vs. Yano and Yoh tag team match that took place at the previous show in Melbourne.
Gambino and Yano began the match as they resumed their animosity. The strategic and playful Yano somehow kept Gambino from hitting him by keeping his distance from arm’s length.
Jado (who accompanied Bullet Club) put a temporary halt to Yano’s behaviour when he hit the popular member of CHAOS on the back with his Singapore cane. The action spilled to the outside where the Bullet Club trio ambushed the opposition while the referee started a count which ended at nine.
When the action was restored to the ring, Tama and Loa executed some of their tag team combinations on Yano while Gambino distracted the referee. Gambino also insisted on several occasions to be tagged in after Tama and Loa had the majority of the match in their favour. They reluctantly tagged out only for Gambino to rush inside the ring and apply a failed pin attempt.
Fed up with the Bullet Club’s tactics, Juice and Nicholls entered the ring and broke Tama and Loa’s cohesiveness. But just when it looked like they had gained control, Gambino blindsided Nicholls.
Yano, who was still the legal man in the ring turned to his trusty turnbuckle pad, but Gambino snatched it away. As Yano bounced off the rope, Gambino clotheslines him with the turnbuckle pad with a loud thud. Jado’s Singapore cane again became an object of interest as everyone fought over the weapon.
Amidst the disarray, Gambino gained a hold of the cane and nearly whacked it over Yano’s head, not before the referee grabbed it away from Gambino. As the referee pulled the cane away and put it out of harm’s reach, Yano seized the opportunity and hit Gambino with the low blow. He rolled his foe up in a schoolboy roll-up. The referee, unaware of what had happened counted three giving Yano, Robinson and Nicholls the win.
Winners: Yano, Robinson and Nicholls
Toa Henare vs. “Stone Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii:
Toa Henare has a long term goal to someday win the Openweight Championship which is currently held by Tomohiro Ishii. Although this was a non-title match, it was an opportunity for the Maori warrior to test his skills against his elder, Ishii. Henare has gained muscle in the last couple of months, a journey that should equip him for his quest for the Openweight title.
Henare and Ishii engaged in an intense hard-hitting battle, first colliding into one another to see who would back down. Henare won this round as Ishii went crashing to the mat, feeling the effects of the young lion’s refined build.
Henare then pursued the ‘Stone Pitbull’ to the corner with strong style strikes. The experienced Ishii retaliated with his own masterful shots. However Henare, oblivious to the hits, he struck back. Ishii then made his claim as the alpha lion when he hit back with some timely chops to Henare’s throat which he could not handle.
The intensity between Henare and Ishii was consistent throughout. Ishii delivered several headbutts which only angered the Henare the prized bull who responded with some lethal chops, however, a single strike by Ishii sent Henare crashing to the mat
Ishii continued to strike away, taunting the youngster to fight back which Henare answered with a T-bone suplex followed up with his signature diving shoulder tackle. He then charged at Ishii into the corner with a clothesline and grounded the old lion with a top rope shoulder tackle.
Henare and Ishii resumed their exchange of forearm strikes that lasted for over a minute with Ishii eventually winning the round. Then they locked into a test of strength, both competitors hooking the other in a front face lock in a battle to execute a suplex which Henare came out on top.
Henare hit another signature move from his repertoire, the rampage tackle. Being aware that he couldn’t waste a second, Henare pursued Ishii who was waiting in the corner, the courageous young lion charged at his opponent who countered his effort by raising his boot and hitting Henare in the face. Ishii grabbed Henare from behind and German suplexed him back first into the turnbuckle. Ishii followed up with a powerbomb and pinfall attempt, but Henare showed his fighting warrior spirit and kicked out.
Ishii also hit Henare with a running clothesline leading into another pinfall attempt, but again, he kicked out.
Ishii tried to end the battle by hitting his finishing move, the brainbuster suplex, but, Henare escaped the move. Henare dropped Ishii with a ferocious headbutt which was the first time Ishii showed signs of feeling pain.
Henare then attempted his finishing move, the Toa Bottom uranage suplex, Ishii the seasoned veteran escaped the move. and responded by successfully executing his brainbuster finisher. The referee tapped the mat three times awarding the match to the ‘Stone Pitbull. Ishii exited the ring, followed by Henare who was acknowledged with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii
The Bullet Club contingent proudly represented by Australia and New Zealand made their entrance as Sydney’s Robbie Eagles was given a huge welcoming from his home crowd. Although Bullet Club is known for being the notorious villains, that didn’t silence the crowd’s adoration for the trio, in particular, the ‘Sniper of the Skies’.
Eagles and Ospreay started the match to the delight of the crowd. Eagles backed Ospreay into the corner but did not throw a strike, instead he made a clean break and backed away. The two wrestlers locked up again, though when Ospreay backed Eagles against the ropes, he did not give the ‘Sniper’ the same courtesy. Ospreay struck away at Eagles who then countered Ospreys approach with a fast-paced Junior Heavyweight style which Eagles got the best of sending Ospreay outside the ring.
Jay White then tagged himself in before Eagles could attempt a suicide dive to the ‘Aerial Assassin’. White’s insertion could be interpreted as a reprimand to Eagles for not being aggressive with Ospreay at the beginning.
Ospreay avoided ‘Switchblade’ and tagged in the popular Hiroshi Tanahashi. White and Tanahashi locked up only to resort to pulling each other’s hair. Tanahashi mistakenly climbed on the middle rope with his back facing the ‘Switchblade’. White capitalised and pushed Tanahashi on to the floor outside the ring.
With Tanahashi laying outside, Fale charged across the ring and knocked members of the opposition off the apron. The ‘Rogue General’ and the ‘Switchblade’ utilised a smart game tactic that was very similar to NZ’s rugby team, the All Blacks, while Eagles stood clueless like the Australian Wallabies rugby team during their recent 36 – 0 loss to the All Blacks. The mauling continued outside the ring as Bullet Club dominated New Japan’s dream team and Ospreay.
Order was restored in the ring as Fale executed a heavy elbow drop on the ‘Ace’ Tanahashi. Tanahashi fought back with strikes, but his effort was no match for the ‘Rogue General” who didn’t have to do much as Tanahashi fell to the mat while running into the big man.
White who got tagged in, joined Fale in putting the boots to Tanahashi. Fale then walked over to the opposing team to throttle Okada and distract the referee. As Fale gained the attention of the official, White ordered Eagles to join him in attacking the ‘Ace’.
The Bullet Club held Tanahashi captive until he was able to escape and tag in Okada, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Okada stormed in with a vengeance, first fending off White’s attack and hitting Fale and Eagles off the ring apron. Okada climbed to the top rope, though he landed safely on his feet as White dodged out of the way who gave the ‘Rainmaker’ a Saito suplex.
Okada and White tagged out to Eagles and Ospreay who resumed their competitive one-upmanship. This time, Eagles added aggression to his technique. The two Junior Heavyweight exchanged holds, but as Ospreay was pushed to the corner, White, out of nowhere charged at the ’Aerial Assassin’ with a vicious forearm uppercut, followed shortly behind by Eagles’ flying double knees, and succeeded by a Fale avalanche splash.
Eagles and Ospreay picked up where they left off with the addition of Tanahashi and Okada keeping Fale and White from getting involved. Gedo, the last resort for Bullet Club attempted to interfere at Eagles disapproval while the referee was distracted. However, Gedo’s tactic backfired as Ospreay accidentally superkicked Eagles which was intended for Gedo.
Ospreay moved in for the end and hit his finisher, the Stormbreaker. The referee counted to three and Ospreay picked up the victory for his team.
Fale and White jump the winners from the behind while they had their hands raised. White gave a chair to Eagles and demanded Eagles hit Ospreay with the steel object. Eagles couldn’t bring himself to do it, showing his soft spot for his rival (the same soft spot that probably cost Bullet Club the match). Eagles declined and put it down on the mat.
White picked up the chair, and as he was about to hit Ospreay with it, Eagles intervened and gave ‘Switchblade’ a superkick, choosing his respect for Will Ospreay over loyalty to Bullet Club.
Robbie Eagles the great betrayer and Will Ospreay combine their efforts against White to the excitement of the Sydney crowd. Tanahashi and Okada join Eagles and Ospreay in the ring as the four wrestlers celebrate as the Southern Showdown tour came to an epic end.
Winners: Okada, Tanahashi and Ospreay
“It was a pleasure to bring the NJPW brand to our part of the world,” stated Fale in closing. “I’m always pleased that the fans get a chance to see some of the best wrestlers in the world in the flesh. We are working on our next Australian tour.”