Lost in the hullaballoo of WrestleMania 30 hype, this weekend was also an important one for New Japan Pro Wrestling, as they had one of their biggest shows of the year, the Invasion Attack iPPV at Tokyo's Sumo Hall.
From a North American perspective, this event was unusually important, as the rumours were that Prince Devitt would have his last match for the company before signing a contract with WWE and that AJ Styles would make a surprise appearance, leading to a major push as their new top foreign star.
As Dave Meltzer reported, the gossip turned out to be true in both cases.
In a very good match despite having a surprising lack of heat, Ryusuke Taguchi cleanly defeated Prince Devitt in their Loser Leaves Town bout. This sounded very much like a storyline driven WWE style main event with both men kicking out of the others finishers until Taguchi pinned Devitt with his second Dodon (a fancy face slam). During the match, Devitt successfully courted cheers by being upset at the Young Bucks constant interference, which had been a regular feature in his matches since becoming a heel, and running them off when they turned on him and started attacking him.
Thus, Devitt got a nice sendoff from New Japan. Although there's no official confirmation that he has come to terms with WWE, it's highly unlikely that he would leave a promotion that has always treated him so well for any other opportunity.
With the Bullet Club's leader gone, you'd be wrong to think this would be the end of the faction.
After IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga when Okada pinned Tonga with the Rainmaker (a short-arm lariat), a staredown distraction by Fale allowed a hooded AJ Styles to attack Okada from behind and lay him out with the Styles Clash, revealing himself as the new leader of the Bullet Club.
Playing off their TNA past where Okada was largely used as a jabroni on Xplosion, Styles claimed he would proof that Okada was still nothing but a young boy by taking his title off him. One would expect Okada vs. Styles for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship would headline one of their next big iPPV events in May or June.
The crowd reaction to Styles's debut was tepid, although he should win them over to some degree with his strong working ability in the future. AJ is familiar with New Japan audiences from working major matches for them in 2008 against the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura when TNA shared talent with NJPW, but stopped being used when there was no evidence that using TNA stars as outside attractions helped them to draw any extra fans. He's a good choice to add to the main event mix, even though it's unlikely he'll get as over as their top native stars.
In other results and notes from the iPPV event: