After picking up singles wins in the New Japan Cup, can Aussie Open convert and secure the IWGP tag titles?
We’re cherry-picking again as we’re dropping into New Japan’s Sakura Genesis from this past weekend. This time we’re live on tape from Ryogoku Kokugikan, with English commentary coming from Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton… and since I last covered New Japan with any regularity, the rules on masks and cheering have been relaxed.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) (c)
Aussie Open are 1-1 against Bishamon – having beaten them during the tournament stage of last year’s World Tag League, only to fall short in the finals. I’ll get the obvious out of the way – this is far from the same Aussie Open that debuted as a team in the UK back in 2017. It’s been a long road, with plenty of setbacks, but there was a special feeling in the air going into this.
Fletcher and YOSHI-HASHI start us off, trading wristlocks as a quick tag out to Mark Davis saw YOSHI-HASHI back off. A shoulder tackle from Davis bounces YOSHI-HASHI down, with Kyle returning for a double arm wringer… a blind tag brings Goto in for a pair of shoulder tackles, before YOSHI-HASHI got hiptossed onto Fletcher. Davis tries to stop things, but takes a side Russian legsweep/neckbreaker combo, before we all headed outside with… a tope from Mark Davis?! What the hell… Kyle heads up top too and hits a moonsault off the top rope, but after landing on Hirooki Goto the momentum keeps him going, with Kyle smacking the back of his head on the bottom of the railings. He instantly clutches the back of his head, and after replays, we’re shown Kyle is back up on his feet… and bleeding a gusher above his left ear.
Fletcher tags out, but has time to hit a PK on Goto before heading outside as Francesco Akira tried to stem the bleeding. A cluster of photographers gather around as a ringside doctor patches up Kyle, while Davis was fending off Goto in the ring, only to get caught with a spinning clothesline before YOSHI-HASHI came in and hit a Head Hunter to Davis.
Kyle’s back up, head all bandaged, and gets hung into the ropes as YOSHI-HASHI followed up with the dropkick to the arse to take Fletcher back outside. We’ve a neckbreaker on Davis for a two-count, but he returned fire with a chop and a back suplex before Fletcher tagged in – getting a cheer from the crowd as he fired in with a diving kick into YOSHI-HASHI in the corner.
Standing switches led to a half-and-half suplex from Fletcher to YOSHI-HASHI, before Davis tagged in to clock YOSHI-HASHI with the Dental Plan… then hand him off to Kyle for the lawndart for a near-fall. There’s loud chants for the challengers as YOSHI-HASHI avoided a clothesline, then blocked a second Dental Plan as a Codebreaker bought him enough time to tag out to Goto. Goto waffles Fletcher with a forearm, and earned himself a strike in return as Fletcher looked to be bleeding through his bandage. The pair trade blows for fun, with Kyle pulling ahead… only to get spun down with a lariat seconds later. A back suplex from Goto’s good for a near-fall, before YOSHI-HASHI came in… and sparked a Parade of Stuff as all four men hit the ring.
YOSHI-HASHI’s in for a Violent Flash – the superkick-aided ushigoroshi – to Fletcher, as Shoto looked to loom on… but Kyle pushes on and rolls up Goto for a near-fall. Kyle’s trapped in the ropes for a one-man Shoto, following up with a measured kick and a GYW for a near-fall as Davis dove in to break up the cover. Davis fights off the champions by himself as the Sumo Hall crowd were taking Aussie Open’s side… but a clothesline sent Davis over the top to the outside as the champions seemed to be on course for a win. YOSHI-HASHI nails a Dragon suplex after Shoto was again countered, then held Kyle in the ropes for a clothesline to the back of the head. Shoto’s again pushed away, before Mark Davis broke up a fourth crack at the move, allowing Kyle to hit a hand-off sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI is left in against Aussie Open, eventually eating a pair of boots… the champions take a pair of lariats, as YOSHI-HASHI gets dumped outside, leaving Goto alone as the crowd roared behind the Aussies, who sandwiched Goto with more clotheslines ahead of the Coriolis for the win!
Result: Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis pinned Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI in 15:30 to win the IWGP Tag Team Championships (****¼)
I don’t know if Kyle’s early injury forced a change of pace, nor am I saying “everyone, almost knock yourself out in your matches,” but it’s undeniable that that knock really changed the story of the match, with Aussie Open becoming strong crowd favourites as Kyle was forced into that “babyface in peril” role. Perhaps a seminal moment in Aussie Open’s career, as the United Empire control both tiers of New Japan’s tag division.