Over the weekend, New Japan Pro Wrestling held Fighting Spirit Unleashed, its fourth-ever show to take place in the U.S. Emanating from Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California, the card featured nine matches. Two of them just so happened to feature titles changing hands as Cody defeated Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship and the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) defeated their former Bullet Club stablemates, The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), to claim the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
And no matter what side of the civil war you fall under, at the end of the night, as the rest of the NJPW U.S. shows have been, it was all about the Bullet Club.
#AndNew: Guerrillas of Destiny Strike Again in Bullet Club War
#njpwusa!! Tomorrow, the Young Bucks @NickJacksonYB & @MattJackson13 will defend their IWGP TAGE TEAM titles against @Tama_Tonga & @TangaloaNJPW – The Guerillas of Destiny. We look back at the history of how this match came about. Sign up Now▶https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP pic.twitter.com/lWX7zMIpAx
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) September 30, 2018
The last time NJPW came through the U.S., it was for the G1 Special in San Francisco, which took place at the famed Cow Palace. That was also the event which saw Kenny Omega and Cody settle their feud only for both to become embroiled in a new one, with the Guerrillas of Destiny, King Haku, Hikuleo, “The Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori and Bad Luck Fale. The group, led by Tanga were tired of being second best to the Elite, so at a moment where both Kenny and Cody were hurting from their match, took advantage and fired the first shot.
For months leading up to this, it was teased that Bullet Club wasn’t actually fine despite Cody professing as much. But it’s likely that no one really saw the schism occurring between the Elite and the OGs, which is exactly what happened at the G1 Special. This led into the actual G1, where Tanga and Fale, members of the new Bullet Club Firing Squad, wrecked havoc on the tournament to help build the angle. The two were actively portrayed as not trying to win matches, rather getting disqualified or using the G1 as opportunities to attack their former stablemates.
— 'Bad Boy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) October 1, 2018
On the final night of the G1, Tonga, Loa and Ishimori took the first battle in the BC Civil War, defeating the Bullet Club trio of Marty Scurll and the Young Bucks for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship. They took the second battle at Fighting Spirit Unleashed when Guerrillas of Destiny defeated the Young Bucks for their fourth IWGP tag team titles. The match itself was well-paced with both teams getting in offense and both showing the clear disdain they now have for the men on the other side of the ring. With the proud papa, King Haku looking on, the end came when GOD attempted a Magic Killer (shoutout to Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson), but were hit with a superkick in return, only to rebound back with a 3-D to get the win.
#AndNew: Cody Adds Another to His Belt Collection
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 1, 2018
Ever since Cody Rhodes left WWE in 2016, the man has been on a mission to prove something to himself, to his former company, to fans, to just about everyone. He set out to prove that being a pro wrestler didn’t have to mean you were in this box, contracted to do this or that. Rather, that you could still be at the top of the industry by having freedom and by doing things your own way.
In the two-and-a-half years since leaving WWE, Cody has proven exactly that. He’s worked for most of the top companies and for their biggest shows. He held the Ring of Honor World Championship without having a contract with the company. He’s wrestled for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship more than once, and just a month ago, he produced the largest independent wrestling show this world had ever seen. Not to mention, he won the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, making him and Dusty Rhodes the only father-son duo to accomplish said feat.
Cody cuts an epic promo on why he needed to beat Juice Robinson for the US title. pic.twitter.com/ldsRrLxafI
— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) October 1, 2018
Cody has made pro wrestling his own and at Fighting Spirit Unleashed, he added another accolade to his impressive and game-changing post-WWE run by defeating Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States championship. Using Brandi Rhodes as perfectly as one could use a manager, Cody worked as a heel, taking advantage of every shortcut he could. The match itself featured both men putting on a solid and entertaining bout but ultimately it was Cody and Brandi’s tactics – a thumb to the eye, a distraction, spitting water in Juice’s face – that set the tone. In the end, the match was won by a simple roll up, but it did its job to get Cody the win and set up what was about to happen next.
At the end of the night, following an excellent match between CHAOS‘ Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii and the Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi), Cody inserted himself into the conversation. Ibushi, as the winner of the G1 has a guaranteed match with Omega for the IWGP championship, but Cody suggested his win should put him in line too as he challenged Omega to defend the title against Ibushi and himself in a triple threat match. The match, which will be just the third time ever the title has been fought over in a triple threat, is set to take place at King of Pro Wrestling on October 8.