Another look at Royal Quest 2, and a match that wasn’t on the original cards as Yota Tsuji was given a hell of a challenge.

Originally set as Tomohiro Ishii vs. JONAH, flight issues caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida left JONAH stranded in the States, leading to some reshuffling of the cards, with Yota Tsuji getting the nod as a replacement. Once more, we’re live via tape from the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London… commentary in post comes via Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton.

Yota Tsuji vs. Tomohiro Ishii
It’s a first-time singles match, with the pair having tagged and faced each other in Tsuji’s pre-excursion days…

Opening with a tie-up, the pair end up in the ropes, where Tsuji throw a chop on the break… then some forearms as Ishii couldn’t get going. Ishii shrugs off shoulder tackles though, as the pair bounce off each other as we hit a stalemate. A stalemate broken as they go back to forearm strikes that riled up the crowd, before rebound shoulder tackles actually had Ishii down.

Chops from Tsuji take Ishii to the corner, but Ishii charged back out to knock down Tsuji, as chops then took the Legion member into the corner. They trade blows, but Ishii zombies up out of the corner, then sank Tsuji with a single chop. Forearms see Tsuji try and mount a comeback, but Ishii knocks him right back down, before Tsuji finally found a way in with a shoulder tackle. A snapmare took Ishii down for kicks to the back and chest, while a thrust kick proved more fruitful as Tsuji hit the ropes for a tijeras. Tsuji followed up with a goddamn Sasuke special of all things, before a powerslam back inside drew a two-count, as Tsuji followed up with kicks. Ishii popped up from those as Tsuji suddenly struggled to find a way through as Ishii walked through Tsuji’s forearms.

Ishii threw a single forearm to take Tsuji to the corner, while a suplex landed for a two-count… popping a board in the process as Red Shoes Unno was suddenly doing a jig around the ring to knock the board back. Tsuji runs into almost a facebuster in the corner, prompting Ishii to slap him back as Tsuji was more than willing to play that game.

The slap fight gets the crowd roaring, while Tsuji’s headbutt had Ishii crumpled in a heap. Ishii manages to get back up to land a German suplex, but Tsuji’s able to shrug it off and hit a snap Blue Thunder driver, then a knee strike, before a Titanic/Falcon arrow combo almost did the deal. More back-and-forth leads to Ishii escaping a slam, then returning with a Saito suplex on Tsuji… but it’s shrugged off as Tsuji’s superkick and curb stomp out of a Lethal Combination just earned him an Ishii powerslam in response.

Tsuji tries more kicks, but Ishii popped up… only to stagger back to the mat. Ishii absorbs more kicks, then cracked Tsuji with a headbutt, before a clothesline nearly put Tsuji away. We’re at the 15-minute mark now, as Ishii then went for a sheer drop brainbuster… Tsuji blocked it, but took more headbutts before he came back with an Alabama Slam for a near-fall. A spear from Tsuji’s next, but it’s blocked as Tsuji instead lands a lariat… as did Ishii… before the Tsuji spear almost won it.

Another spear from Tsuji’s sidestepped, but he keeps going, only for Ishii to land a snap enziguiri, then a sliding lariat for a two-count, before the sheer-drop brainbuster proved to be enough for the win.

Result: Tomohiro Ishii pinned Yota Tsuji in 17:36 (****)

I don’t think too many expected a Tsuji win here, but this was more of a proving ground for Tsuji, to see just how far he’d progressed a year into his excursion away from New Japan. He’s coming along nicely, but on these signs, there’s plenty of promise for when he returns to Japan…