With the majority of the wrestling world watching in Texas, New Japan continued their track to next weekend’s Invasion Attack special with another show from Korakuen Hall. This show as made available for everyone, free of charge, via New Japan World, so expect a lot of references to buffering in this report!
According to Bryan Alvarez of F4Wonline, the NJPW World issues are seemingly due to cost-cutting, which in the long run isn’t the best of ideas, particularly if it means that even on-demand shows have issues (such as the ROH 14th Anniversary show that went up yesterday).
Hirai Kawato vs. Teruaki Kanemitsu
Both men don’t even get their own entrances – with them both coming out to a generic ”Young Lions” video. A good basic match from these two, whom according to CageMatch are just three months into their pro careers. And speaking of CageMatch, Kawato’s profile makes him look a little like ZZ from Tough Enough…
Kanemitsu looked to favour the armbar, including a nice hiptoss-into-an-armbar sequence, but Kawato is able to make the ropes every time. In return, Kawato hit a nice looking dropkick on Kanemitsu, then went for the Boston crab (is that the only finisher they teach Young Lions?), but Kanemitsu is able to make the ropes after a struggle.
Kanemitsu switches a back body drop into a sunset flip which leads to a sequence of pinning attempts for both men, and Kawato nearly gets a surprise win with a small package, before Kanemitsu locks in the Boston Crab… and then the bell rings. No tap-out or screw job – this one is a time limit draw!
David Finlay vs. Jay White
Oh lord, as much as I’ve liked the matches between these two, I thought we were done with this… especially after two different Young Lions opened the show. At least it’s not the opening match!
We got the standard fare from these two, with Finlay showing a slightly more aggressive streak than usual against the New Zealander, including a bodyslam into the ropes. However, a dropkick from White sparked his comeback, with a running suplex setting-up a missile dropkick for a near-fall. White then went for a Boston crab, but Finlay blocked it, before delivering a uranage backbreaker on White, then a flying forearm for a near-fall of his own.
Finlay locked in a single-leg Boston crab, but White was too close to the ropes, and after a spot of buffering we return for the standard Young Lions finish – a submission via Boston Crab for Jay White. Can we please end this feud and have at least one of them face a different opponent?
Beretta, Rocky Romero & Gedo vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask
So, we’ve got Roppongi Vice challenging Matt Sydal and Ricochet in a week for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team titles, but as they’re both in Texas, their warm-up match is a six-man tag featuring the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion, and two guys who last we saw, were meant to be in a storyline with each other…
Beretta and Romero jump Tiger Mask and KUSHIDA at the bell, which means that Gedo reluctantly has to do the same to Liger, I guess, but they end up in the ring and they take turns tagging in to take on Liger, who eventually fires back with some tiltawhirl backbreakers before tagging in Tiger Mask. Roppongi Vice takes out Mask with a double high-knee, and it’s his turn to take some punishment from the title challengers.
Beretta looks to rip off Tiger Mask’s, err, mask, and Gedo joins the party as the referee is distracted… oh, and Romero actually unlaces the mask and shows us the back of Tiger’s head. They really don’t like that hood! KUSHIDA comes in and takes out Gedo and Beretta with a handspring elbow, and there’s a neat exchange where KUSHIDA’s Hoverboard lock is reversed by Gedo into a series of pinning attempts. More buffering, and KUSHIDA has the Hoverboard on lock again and this time makes Gedo tap. Fun match, and leads to a post-match skit where Liger makes the winning babyfaces all dance in the ring afterwards.
Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
I have a bad feeling about this match – the grumpy old men of New Japan against two guys who are pretty much locked in the midcard. Yano pulls his usual Father Hackett “break!” Routine, but that just angers Nagata, who responds with a big boot in the corner. They spill onto the floor, and Yano whips Nagata into the barrier, then loosens the corner turnbuckle padding, and we know where we’re going from here.
Back in the ring, Yano immediately whips Nagata into the exposed corner, then tags in YOSHI-HASHI whose first move is to baseball slide Nakanishi off the apron. Yano is tagged in again and distracts the referee by baiting Nakanishi into the ring, but Nagata outsmarts him by faking an enziguiri kick then delivering one for real to an unsuspecting Yano.
Nakanishi finally gets tagged in and wallops Yano with forearms, before the old guys come in to slowly hit running clotheslines into the corner on Yano and HASHI. Nakanishi gets a two count on Yano, then lifts him up in a Torture Rack, but YOSHI-HASHI’s attempts to disrupt it by kicking Nakanishi in the gut are no sold… and Yano tries to block a German suplex by taking the referee with him. As the referee sells in the corner, Yano kicks Nakanishi low, and rolls him up for a surprise three-count.
Really a nothing match with a nothing ending, but it was an inoffensive way to send us into intermission, where they replay Tetsuya Naito’s press-conference from after his New Japan Cup victory last month, before actually showing us the remainder of the card. On a bit of card, too… whatever happened to the on-screen graphics team?
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Ryusuke Taguchi
Of course, this is building up Shibata’s NEVER Openweight title defence against Kojima next weekend, and so far this feud has been entertaining as far as the in-ring. This time Shibata opens against Tenzan, and they exchange forearms and Mongolian chops. Taguchi takes a break from aping Shinsuke Nakamura and copies Kojima’s Mongolian chops.
Tenzan gets a hot tag from Kojima and steamrollers over Shibata, whose efforts at deflecting strikes came to nought. Well, at least until it came to the pair of them trading stiff forearms; a battle that Shibata won, but was unable to celebrate as Tenzan drilled him in the sternum with a headbutt.
An STO-like move from Shibata took Tenzan down, but a decision to tag in Taguchi seemed to be immediately wrong, as he wandered into the path of a fresh Kojima and his rapid-fire corner chops. A hip attack by Taguchi takes down Kojima, as does a flying hip strike off the top, which gets Taguchi a two-count. A Koji Cutter floors Taguchi, and a Ten-Cozy Cutter (3D) took out Shibata, but Taguchi channels Nakamura some more… and gets his head taken off with a Kojima lariat, and that’s all she wrote.
Post-match, Tenzan’s laying out Shibata on the floor, which leads to some more brawling in the ring, but that was another fun, hard-hitting match involving TenCozy and Shibata… and Taguchi really needs to ditch all of the Nakamura tribute stuff from his act. Pronto!
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Bad Luck Fale, Kenny Omega, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Yujiro Takahashi
This is almost a repeat of the 5-match series we had at the last New Japan show at Korakuen, except in a Survivor Series-style elimination format, with the extra wrinkle of battle-royal style eliminations counting. Tanga Loa is replacing Cody Hall in the advertised format, so we get the in-ring debut of Tanga Loa one week early.
The Bullet Club jump Makabe at the bell and beat him down, looking to toss him over the top rope, but he’s saved, and we end up with a rope running sequence with Honma and Tonga, which Honma wins, before missing the first of many Kokeshi headbutt drops. Tonga mimics the move, and misses also…
Juice Robinson and Yujiro Takahashi come in next, and Robinson gets a near fall from a belly to belly suplex as Kenny Omega breaks the pin attempt. Bad Luck Fale enters to elbow the rest of team New Japan off the apron, and that leaves us with Omega and Robinson in the ring as everyone else brawls outside. Tonga chokes Makabe with a chain as Omega does the same to Robinson with a t-shirt… not quite as extreme then!
Tanga Loa comes in and takes down Robinson with a slam, then a standing legdrop for a near-fall, before bringing in Tonga to headbutt Robinson’s ribs. The New Japan team rush the ring to save Tanahashi from being eliminated, but that leads to the Bullet Club all splashing him in the corner, whilst Fale gets a near fall after a simple Samoan drop. Another splash attempt by Fale sees him eat the turnbuckles, before he decides to bring in Takahashi to work over Tanahashi. Michael Elgin comes in to take down Takahashi with a flying shoulder tackle, before hitting his impressive Samoan Drop/Fallaway Slam combo on Takahashi and Omega.
Elgin powerbombs Takahashi into the turnbuckle, but catches a flying Omega and powerbombs him into Takahashi as he wards off an interference attempt… one powerbomb later, and Takahashi is eliminated. Kenny Omega gets eliminated moments later when Elgin clotheslines him over the top and onto the apron, before hitting a death valley driver from the apron to the floor, seemingly eliminating himself in the process.
We’re left with Tanga Loa and Juice Robinson in the ring, and Robinson is quickly eliminated by the tag title challenger. Honma and Loa take over, with Honma predictably having to fight off Tonga as well, and he gets eliminated by being pulled off the apron. Loa flattens Makabe with a clotheslines for a near-fall, as we’re seemingly left with Loa and Fale vs. Makabe and Tanahashi.
Makabe catches Loa climbing to the top, and clotheslines him to the floor for another elimination, and it seems that Tonga wasn’t eliminated as he rushes in to go after Makabe. Double clothesline takes out Tonga and Fale, but Makabe’s effort to clothesline Tonga over the top sees him caught in a hiptoss as both men are eliminated.
We’re left with Fale vs. Tanahashi as our final two, and Fale slams Tanahashi over, but he skins the cat to come back in, then hits a series of European uppercuts, before blocking a Fale Grenade, and hitting a German suplex. Slingblade takes down Fale, but he rolls through a High Fly Flow and follows up with a Grenade for a two-count.
Fale picks up Tanahashi for the Bad Luck Drop, but he wriggles out, only to take a Fale spear instead. Another Bad Luck Drop attempt is unsuccessful, as Tanahashi turns it into a pinning huracanrana, grabbing the legs (and baggy trouser legs of Fale), and Tanahashi is our sole survivor!
A good match, but for a newbie, the multiple elimination methods made this tricky to follow – definitely one to watch again! Post-match, an unhappy Fale wipes out the Young Lions at ringside, and then wades through the crowd, throwing chairs into the ring before sticking two fingers up at Tanahashi en route to the back.
Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & BUSHI vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii
The feud between CHAOS and Los Ingobernables de Japon rumbles in in our main event, and on the Load to Invasion Attack, both sides have traded wins – including a win for Naito and crew last time out at Korakuen Hall.
We start with BUSHI vs. Okada – but the champion clearly wants to face his challenger next week, and Naito tags in immediately for a staredown, but Okada jumps him with kicks and send him to the rope. Naito teases a dive after sending Okada to the floor, but instead he just poses.
EVIL and Goto pair off, swapping high knees into the ropes, as Goto clotheslines the remaining Ingobernables off the apron. A Saito suplex gets Goto a near-fall, but BUSHI interferes, allowing EVIL to clothesline Goto over to the floor, where a folding chair comes into play. Goto plays YOSHI-HASHI, taking the steel chair-into-the-post spot, before being thrown back in by EVIL.
Naito goes to work on Goto with forearms, and a back elbow that sends Goto to the mat as the rest of the Ingobernables come in to join the fun, ending as BUSHI locks in a STF that the referee barely acknowledges as Goto eventually makes the ropes. Ishii comes in to put an end to the one-sidedness, and even overcomes a three-on-one attack, laying waste to Los Ingobernables with a series of clotheslines, before showing BUSHI that his forearm shots are much more effective.
BUSHI finally takes down Ishii with a missile dropkick, before connecting with a spinning Fisherman’s neckbreaker. Naito comes in and enjoys a brief period of offence, including a neckbreaker and a reverse DDT onto a knee, but he gets caught climbing up top, and is taken to the mat hardway by Ishii with a deadlift superplex. Another brief flurry between Naito and Okada follows, with a running forearm getting Okada a near fall.
Naito takes down Okada with a rope-assisted swinging DDT, before coming close with the Gloria (hammerlock into a sideslam). Naito and Okada tease finishers, trying out Destino and the Rainmaker respectively, but neither are successful. EVIL comes in and takes out Okada and Goto, and it quickly degenerates into a three-on-one on Okada. Goto comes in to save Okada from a double gorilla press slam, and then kills BUSHI with the urushigoshi (death valley driver onto a knee).
Okada returns for a Rainmaker on BUSHI, then a tombstone piledriver on EVIL, followed by another Rainmaker, and Okada takes the win for CHAOS.
A good, entertaining main event, which helped build up the Invasion Attack title match without giving away too much. Post-match, Naito sits in the crowd as Okada prepares to deliver a speech… only to run in and lay out Okada’s manager (Gedo) and steal Okada’s scarf to end the show.
As for the stream itself, well, I’m eating humble pie – the buffering issues were largely non-existent (apart from wi-fi issues at my end). Hopefully that’s a sign of permanent improvements, rather than New Japan using extra servers to accommodate expected demand for this free show. Hopefully this quality remains for next weekend’s Invasion Attack – a show I am really looking forward to!