With the recent earthquake in Kumamoto forcing New Japan to cancel a pay-per-view later this week and shuffle some cards around, New Japan World brought us another Korakuen Hall event this past Saturday, as the Road to Wrestling Dontaku continued!
Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero) & Gedo vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask
I say it every time he wrestles, but ENOUGH of the Nakamura act… Taguchi is doing himself no favours with these homages. At the bell, everyone on the CHAOS team is scared to start off against Nakanishi, but Beretta draws the short straw and looks like he’s about to face an impending death.
Beretta goes for an eye rake after his attempts to shoulder charge Nakanishi down failed, and after getting the tag, Rocky Romero didnt have much better luck either. Nor did Gedo, whost efforts to crawl away for a quick tag came to nought. Nakanishi gets fed up and kills all three members of the CHAOS team, before bringing in Taguchi for a hattrick of hip attacks.
CHAOS reverted to double and triple-team attacks on Taguchi, but he made a comeback and tagged in Tiger Mask who went wild with crossbodies, before ducking a pair of double team attacks. Nakanishi returned only to get his eyes raked by Gedo, who got killed with a lariat in response.
After Nakanishi blocked a double suplex, Tiger Mask and Taguchi took out Roppongi Vice with hip attacks, before Gedo took another lariat. The cameras just about caught some dives to the outside, as Nakanishi picked up Gedo for the win via Torture Rack.
Not a bad match, felt a little like it wasn’t at full speed, but good enough for an opener **½
Jay White & David Finlay vs. Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
The perennial Young Lion singles partners are tagging up here to take on former IWGP tag team champs, and I think there’s only one outcome here.
Good stuff early on with White and Makabe, with the New Zealander making the unwise choice of trying shoulder charges to take down the veteran Makabe. Don’t think that move’s going to work much tonight guys. The permatanned Honma has better luck against Finlay, stuffing an early takedown attempt, but Finlay does get a move in… that being a dropkick before avoiding a Kokeshi headbutt.
Honma throws Finlay into the guard rails outside, with Makabe helping as they kill Finlay with a spike piledriver on the floor. I say “kill”, he still beat the count, and kicked out at the count of one when he made it back to the ring.
Finlay connects with a missile dropkick to Makabe and made the hot tag to White, who ran wild, dropping Makabe with a running suplex before hitting a top rope missile dropkick for a near fall. Finlay came in after White lost an uppercut battle, but he quickly fell victim to Honma’s chops and a Kokeshi off the ropes.
A diving uppercut almost got Finlay the win, with Makabe needing to break up the pin, but a double lariat from Makabe took out the Young Lions, before a senton diving headbutt to a seated Finlay got a two-count. It wasn’t long before the end though, as Honma drilled Finlay with a sit-out tombstone to get the win.
Not a bad match, but I hated how little they made a spot such as the spike piledriver to the floor mean. They gave the youngster a lot more offence than I expected too. **¾
Captain New Japan & Juice Robinson vs. Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga
Hmm, the newly-crowned IWGP tag team champions – the Guerrillas of Destiny – against a team featuring Captain New Japan. This should be elementary. By the way, thanks to Tama Tonga on Twitter for advising that his brother’s ring name is Tanga Loa (even though everyone else still seems to spell it Tanga Roa).
Tonga jumps Robinson and Captain at the bell, and I’ve just noticed that the Captain is wearing Yoshitatsu-inspired Bullet Club Hunter gear tonight. He quickly tags out to Robinson, but he enjoys little luck against the champions, as Loa kicks him to the mat. Robinson willingly tags in the Captain (I miss that gimmick where nobody wants to team with him), and the pair hit a double hiptoss on Loa, before Loa spears the faces midway through a stalling suplex on Tonga.
Insert Bullet Club statutory floor brawling here, and it’s all GOD here, as they wipe out the Captain with their fireman’s carry/twisting neckbreaker combo for a near-fall. The Captain tags in Robinson to mount a comeback, as he clotheslines Loa out of the ring, before launching a springboard plancha to the floor to keep him there.
It was all going well until Robinson tagged the Captain back in, as he found a Uranage attempt blocked, as Tonga dropkicked him to the mat. A fireman’s carry flapjack got Tonga a two-count, but in the end a double team elevated DDT ensured that the champs got the win in a decent, if basic, bout **½.
Post-match, Tonga and Loa kept up the assault on their beaten opponents, prompting Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma to make the save.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Yuji Nagata vs. KUSHIDA & Katsuyori Shibata
Ooh, the merging of the veterans vs. youngsters feuds! Weirdly, they don’t bring out the guys in pairs, introducing Liger, then KUSHIDA, then Nagata and finally Shibata. This should be a good one!
Shibata and Nagata grapple early on, with no clear victor as the pair roll out of each others’ holds. Then come the strikes, and good Lord, they aren’t holding back on each other! Nagata gets grounded early with a Figure Four, and of course he tries to power out and reverse the hold, finally rocking Shibata onto his front before completing the barrel roll into the ropes.
We switch to Liger and KUSHIDA for more of the same, except swapping strikes and holds for moves more fitting these two. Again, no clear winner in the early exchanges, but Liger quickly rolls around, locking KUSHIDA in a sitting surfboard before raising up into the pendulum swing.
KUSHIDA catches Liger in a Hoverboard lock on the top rope, but can’t keep it locked in for too long, instead dumping Liger to the floor rather than risking a DQ. From there, KUSHIDA goes after the arm of Liger, and that continues after Shibata’s tagged back in. Gradually throughout the match, the youngsters became more heelish, but crucially they never truly got their comeuppance from the guys they’d been wronging. You’ve got to wait for the main Wrestling Dontaku show for THAT!
Nagata forced a rope break after Shibata caught him in a crossface, and then it was more trading forearms, which quickly escalated up to stiff suplexes. After tags, KUSHIDA blocked a Liger Bomb, but ended up caught in his own hold by Liger, which was eventually reversed. Shibata stopped Nagata from breaking up the hold by running in and tying him in an Octopus hold, but that all went to hell pretty quickly.
Shibata and Nagata spilled outside, leaving the junior heavyweights in the ring, but after trying for a second armbreaker, Liger switched around and caught KUSHIDA in a backslide for a surprise win.
A pretty good match, which kept the storyline going without giving away too much of the two main matches. Post-match saw Shibata and Nagata continue their catfight-like brawl in the ring, as Liger and KUSHIDA stood in the corner trying their best to distance themselves from their partners. ***½ (with a solid four snowflakes for Shibata and Nagata’s post-match encounter!)
NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles: Kenny Omega, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin & Yoshitatsu (c)
They’re doing this deliberately, aren’t they? Takahashi and Tanahashi in the same match… damn you Gedo and Jado. Yoshitatsu seems to have added Triple H’s entrance mannerisms to his act, which I’m sure is not too coincidental to him being called the Bullet Club HUNTER.
For once, the Bullet Club don’t have a jump start, and we open with Elgin and Omega, and Elgin uses an eye poke to get the early advantage. Elgin hit quite a few power spots early on, including a press slam on Omega into Takahashi, before taking the pair down with a double suplex. As soon as Fale got tagged in, Elgin brought in Tanahashi, but Fale smashed him down, and we quickly got Takahashi and Yoshitatsu.
Yoshitatsu bust out some cool leg grapevines to try and submit and pin Takahashi, before things broke down. We got our obligatory Bullet Club outside-the-ring action, with Yujiro using a chair on Tanahashi before Kenny Omega literally mopped him up. The Bullet Club went back to form, utilising double and triple teams to keep Tanahashi at bay.
Fale backed Tanahashi into a corner as he tried in vain for a German suplex, but the former champion was able to take down Fale with a slingblade before making the tag to Yoshitatsu, who chopped away at Omega with kicks. Yoshitatsu then wrapped up Omega in a variation of an Indian deathlock that brought in the rest of the Bullet Club for some triple-teaming, ending with Fale squashing Yoshi in the corner.
Elgin gets the tag in and floors Omega with a twisting plancha from the apron, before Omega flipped out of a deadlift German suplex. A bodyslam flipped into a uranage got Elgin a near-fall before more interference, but Omega rolled away as Elgin tried to slingshot Tanahashi on top of him. Cue freeze spray spot, and Omega accidentally sprayed Fale before Elgin used it on Omega… Tatsu just about made a dive onto Omega, and Tanahashi was thrown onto Fale, leaving Yujiro free to nearly snatch a roll-up victory. In the end, a buckle bomb and a sit-out powerbomb was enough for Elgin to get the win for his team to retain the titles.
Nothing special, but a perfectly acceptable six-man match. ***¼
Elimination match: Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA
They remembered the angle with Milano Collection AT being forced to leave his commentary place to hold the ropes open for Naito! I cannot overstate how much joy I have that they brought that back!
An early segment with Naito and Ishii saw Naito duck a chop and quickly tag in SANADA, before posing under the bottom rope – you have to love just how much of a “don’t give a ****” champion Naito is becoming. Okada tried to throw SANADA over the top (for an elimination), but he was saved by EVIL, who entered the fray next to take on Goto, as the match entered the hard hitting phase.
The obligatory fighting on the floor saw SANADA pair off with Okada again, using a baseball bat to choke him as Naito went after Gedo for some reason. Naito tried to get Milano Collection AT to tag in (not sure how that’d work, Milano’s been retired for a while!), and we saw our triple team spots, as Naito distracted the referee as YOSHI-HASHI got choked by BUSHI’s t-shirt.
YOSHI-HASHI managed to survive the onslaught and take down SANADA with a suplex/neckbreaker before getting the hot tag to Okada, who cleaned house for a while.
Ishii returned to the fray to drill Naito with a back suplex for a near-fall, before turning his attention to Bushi, and back again. A snapmare into a dropkick from Naito nearly resulted in Ishii’s elimination, before Ishii’s attempt to suplex Naito over the top to the floor ended up in the champion landing on the apron, before bringing him over… only for Naito to casually drop off the apron and eliminate himself. Naito then played Hulk Hogan, grabbing onto Ishii (Sid)’s leg as EVIL knocked him off to be the second one eliminated.
Goto and EVIL were next, with EVIL getting tossed out after Goto hit the Ushigoroshi. BUSHI came in the ring next, and slipped out of another Ushigoroshi before low-bridging Goto onto the apron, and then spraying mist to send him to the floor for the next eliminaton. That leaves us with YOSHI-HASHI and Okada vs. SANADA and BUSHI.
The CHAOS guys teamed up on BUSHI, with Okada laying him out with a Rainmaker, before SANADA and BUSHI combined to get each other on the apron, with SANADA dropkicking Okada to the floor. Bless him, YOSHI-HASHI tried his hardest, and he even managed to submit BUSHI to a butterfly lock, but save for a few hope spots, you could tell it wasn’t going to be his night. A Tiger suplex almost won it for SANADA, whilst YOSHI-HASHI came oh so close with a bridging powerbomb, but in the end, SANADA secured the win for Los Ingobernables de Japon with a guillotine. ***½
All in, it wasn’t a bad show – just there was little of note to grab you if you weren’t a hardcore fan already.