Apollo 55 capture IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles | On This Day

‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series. Each installment highlights specific events, matches, and/or occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. On January 23rd, 2011, a match captured the attention of fans when NJPW Presented CMLL Fantastica Mania 2011. Apollo 55 capture the IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles is that moment and that match.

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On this night, the main event Prince Devitt (Finn Balor) and Ryusuke Taguchi (Apollo 55) faced the Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi). Coming into the match, the two teams had an established rivalry that began shortly after the duo of Ibushi and Omega reunited. Ibushi and Omega had captured the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in a match that was dubbed the 2010 Match of the Year by Tokyo Sports. This was the first time a Junior Heavyweight Tag Team match won this award.

Before the match begins, both teams meet in the center of the ring and shake hands. Omega and Devitt start the match off with one another, and the two gaijin lockup early on, jockeying for position. Devitt attempts to get the early advantage by cinching in a side headlock. Omega eventually transitions out of the move leading to a standoff. It is unique to see the two men then proceed to high five and move on to tagging in their partners.

Apollo 55 capture IWGP
Photo / NJPW

Taguchi & Ibushi Tag Into The Match

Taguchi and Ibushi are now officially brought into the match. Both men tentatively reach for each other in the center of the ring, feeling each other out. This leads to a side headlock by Ibushi on Taguchi in the center of the ring. After being knocked down by a shoulder tackle. Taguchi then takes out Ibushi with a dropkick right in the face. Apollo 55 then cut the ring in half and move Ibushi into their corner as Taguchi tags in Devitt. 

The focus appears to be the left arm and shoulder of Ibushi. Devitt tags in Taguchi, who continues the assault on Ibushi’s left arm and shoulder. Ibushi eventually makes his way to the ropes, breaking a hold.

Devitt and Taguchi work together to hit Ibushi with a double dropkick. This leads to Omega lunging into the ring, but he is immediately caught him upon entry. After a takedown, he receives a low dropkick to the face. With both Omega and Ibushi outside the ring trying to recover, Devitt and Taguchi attempt to attack them there but are caught with dueling Hurricanranas by the Golden Lovers.

The champions recover and now regain the advantage.

With a weakened Devitt in the corner, Omega and Ibushi cut him off from his partner. Omega picks up Devitt and carries him towards the middle of the ring, and administers a backbreaker. Devitt fights off Omega’s attack with strikes to his midsection. The comeback is momentary as Omega thwarts it. He then proceeds to tease a suplex repeatedly before dropping him with a suplex and proceeds to pin him for a count of two. Taguchi breaks up the count, but that leads to Ibushi also coming into the ring.

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Photo / NJPW

Devitt Regains The Advantage

Ibushi is tagged in, and despite a momentary advantage, Devitt hits both opponents with a dropkick, taking out both men. Devitt tags in Taguchi but both Ibushi and Omega get the advantage on him. Eventually, Taguchi and Ibushi go at it in the middle of the ring. The match now begins to speed up—Taguchi and Ibushi exchange strikes, which leads to a pinning attempt. Ryusuke is beginning to show more emotion as the matchup continues. He hits consecutive rolling vertical suplexes, but Ibushi blocks the third attempt. He then makes a couple of pinning attempts.

Both Ibushi and Taguchi appear exhausted at this point. Ibushi attempts a forward spin kick but misses. Taguchi comes back by hitting a counter kick. Both men struggle to make their way up, but Taguchi makes the tag to Devitt. Upon entering the ring, Ibushi catches Devitt with a thrust kick to his chest. However, Devitt begins to make his comeback taking out both Omega and Ibushi. A sunset flip inside the ring by Devitt on Ibushi is followed by a somersault plancha over the top rope by Taguchi onto Omega. Ibushi’s standing moonsault attempt on Devitt is countered as the challenger gets his knees up.

Apollo 55 capture IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles
An Extrodinaire Somersault Plancha

Taguchi then holds both Omega and Ibushi in place outside the ring as Devitt hits a springboard somersault plancha onto the Golden Lovers. After all four men come back in the ring, both teams hit an array of strikes on one another. It concludes with signature crisis cross springboard moonsaults on their opposition outside the ring. The champions appear to indeed have this match in hand as both Taguchi and Devitt are recovering outside the ring. Ibushi and Omega land a series of strikes and moonsaults on Taguchi. Devitt breaks up a pinning attempt and proceeds to throw Ibushi to the floor.

After attempting a superplex, Ibushi hits a backflip to the back of the head of Devitt. This leads to a strike and a suplex. Taguchi comes back into the ring but faces the wrath of the champs. While standing on the top rope, both Ibushi and Omega hit 450 splashes on Taguchi. But Devitt then hits a coup de gras on the champions who were attempting to pin Taguchi. Taguchi then hits a German Suplex, which Omega completely no-sells and bounces right back up from!

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Photo / Tumgir

After attempting a superplex, Ibushi hits a backflip to the back of the head of Devitt. It leads to a strike and a suplex. This leads to Taguchi to come back into the ring and face the wrath of the champs. While standing on the top rope both Ibushi and Omega hit simultaneous 450 splashes on Taguchi. Devitt just missed them at this point. He then hits a cou de gras on the champions who were attempting to pin Taguchi. Taguchi then hits a German Suplex which Omega completely no-sells and bounces right back up from!

Apollo 55 capture IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles
The End is Near

Omega hits a snapdragon to the unsuspecting Taguchi. He then proceeds to try and strike Taguchi, who catches him with a wheel barrel splash. Ibushi breaks up the pinning attempt. As Ibushi attempts to clutch Taguchi and hit a suplex, Devitt comes in with a Destino-like drop on Ibushi. The challengers work together to hit a recoil/codebreaker wheelbarrow combination on Omega. Taguchi makes a pinning attempt but only for a count of two. The challengers go for the kill, as they hit a wheelbarrow/DDT tandem as Taguchi pins Omega for the count of three.

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Photo / NJPW

It was indeed a match that picked up pace as both teams put in a total effort. To the winners go the spoils as both Ryusuke Taguchi, and Prince Devitt became the new IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions.