Having been the man that wrecked Kenny Omega’s perfect run in the G1, Tomohiro Ishii gets his just reward as he cashed in his shot at the IWGP title in Hiroshima!

We’re in the Sun Plaza Hall in Hiroshima, with Kevin Kelly back on live commentary after he’d flown across the world – from the UK, to the US, back to Japan. He’s joined on commentary by Marc Warzecha, previously of Dojo Pro. Well, once his mic is fixed, that is…

Roppongi 3K (SHO, YOH & Rocky Romero) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask
Christ, all of this match was in England a week ago! There’s a shout out for Rev Pro and El Phantasmo, which makes me ponder…

We start with YOH taking Liger into the ropes for a mocking break, before the veteran ends up running into a dropkick, which frustrated him so much he prepared for a dive, and instead baseball slides YOH on the outside. A tiltawhirl backbreaker back inside keeps YOH down for the Romero special, but Rocky Romero comes in to stomp it apart. Roppongi 3K combine to triple-team Liger for a near-fall, and that motif continued as the rest of Liger’s team opted not to bend the rules. Liger rebounds by launching Romero to the outside with a back body drop, before dumping SHO with a SHO-tei, before finally bringing in KUSHIDA to hit a nice step-up dropkick to YOH… going off of SHO’s back! There’s a kick for Rocky too, then a hiptoss/dropkick for SHO who was then rolled into a cross armbreaker attempt.

KUSHIDA tries to switch into a Hoverboard Lock, but SHO counters into a gutwrench Dominator with ease. Good Lord, that’s strength right there! Rocky and Tiger Mask tag in not long after that, with Tiger clearing house with kicks, but he’s again triple-teamed by Roppongi 3K with Liger breaking up a pin, before Tiger fought off an attempt at the 3K. The double-teaming finally stops with a handspring back elbow by KUSHIDA, as Rocky starts to focus on Tiger with the Forever lariats, before he’s stopped by a Shotei and a Tiger Driver… for a near-fall, despite Liger counting along!

Not to worry, a Tiger suplex straight after does the job, as Rocky takes the fall. A fun opening tag, but one that purists will loathe for all of the double/triple teaming. **¾

Toa Henare vs. Bad Luck Fale
Having been squashed by Fale on the G1 finals, it’s time to see if Henare can break the two-minute mark.

Henare jumps Fale as he came through the ropes, putting the boots to the big Tongan before he ran into a shoulder tackle. Undeterred, the Kiwi tries to reply with clotheslines, then a low dropkick as he successfully got Fale down to a knee. A flying shoulder charge gets Fale down for a near-fall… but Fale’s right back in with a Bad Luck Fall, but Henare slips out and retaliates with a headbutt. One big lariat flips Henare inside out though, and then it’s a Grenade as Fale picks up the win. Hey, Henare’s showing heart, and he lasted a little longer (almost a whole minute!)… but we’re still in WWF Superstars squash territory here. I like the slow-burn story here of Henare trying to prove himself to Fale, no matter what cost it’s coming to his own health and safety.

Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Michael Elgin & Ayato Yoshida
There’s new music and video for the Killer Elite Squad… and hey, World of Sport’s Davey Boy Smith Jr. has new gear too!

Yoshida’s not scared, and gets in Archer’s face before the bell. Those two start, but it’s just a ruse as Smith jumped the K-Dojo trainee. There’s forearms to the lower back from Smith before Archer came in to continue the beatdown, laying into Yoshida with a series of running elbows in the corner. Smith’s stalling suplex forces Elgin to come in and break up the pin – and eventually he’s in for real with a missile dropkick to Archer.

Elgin keeps up with elbows to Archer, but a discus clothesline looked to be countered with a chokeslam, only for Elgin to regain the upper hand with a German suplex. The Falcon arrow’s next for a near-fall, but Archer returns fire with a Black Hole Slam before Yoshida returned in a bid to score the upset… only to get caught with a running powerslam by Smith for another near-fall. There’s a save from Elgin, but it’s for nought as Yoshida ends up taking a chokeslam, then a Killer Bomb as the KES took home a win in their first New Japan outing in four months. This was more of a showcase for “hey, remember us” as they re-establish themselves ahead of World Tag League. ***

Bullet Club Elite (Kota Ibushi, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Will Ospreay, Chuckie T & Beretta
Yay, more Ospreay vs. Ibushi!

It’s Chuckie and Yujiro who gets us going though, as the Best Friends made their New Japan return, double-teaming the Tokyo Pimp early on and holding him for Ospreay to get involved with a corkscrew moonsault off of Chuckie’s back. There’s no hug for Will though. Yujiro bites back on Chuckie, before hotshotting the former PWG champion and generally slowing the pace down. Ibushi gets the tag in as poor Chuckie remains cornered, but he finally escaped with elbows and a dropkick before he crawled his way across the ring, only for Chase Owens to run in, take some Soul Food, as Chuckie tagged in Ospreay.

Will springboards in with a neckbreaker for Ibushi, before a standing shooting star press earned a near-fall. Ibushi escaped the Shibata-ish dropkick and takes Will down for a springboard moonsault as those two tore it up, with Ibushi eventually taking a handspring enziguiri before dropping Will with a clothesline. A neckbreaker/facebuster from Owens nearly puts the former junior heavyweight champion away, only for Ospreay to hit back with a stundog millionaire as Beretta came into play. Chase fires back with forearms, then a big back body drop, before Beretta rebounded from the Ric Flair turnbuckle bump with a lariat! There’s a leaping elbow for Chase and a tornado DDT in the corner, before the Gobstopper/Shining Wizard drew a near-fall.

Chase manages to find a way back in with a slingshot backbreaker, but Beretta kicks out at two, before he fought free of a package piledriver as we broke into a Parade of Moves, ending with a Sasuke special from Ospreay to Yujiro and Ibushi, before Beretta worked his way into a stuff Dudebuster as the Best Friends picked up the win. Another entertaining trios match, and you have to wonder… Best Friends for Tag League? There’s a reason they’ve been brought back this close! ***¼

NEVER Six-Man Championships: Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Bullet Club OG (Taiji Ishimori & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c)
The OG’s first title defence saw them take on a Taguchi Japan that was suddenly big into their rugby.

The Bullet Club trio had the title belts with them, despite throwing the straps into the crowd when they won them last month. Taguchi and Ishimori get us going, with Taguchi using his rear end early on before Ishimori started to use his speed around the ropes en route to the duelling dropkick stand-off. Tanga Loa gets spiked with an armdrag by Juice next, before a drop toe hold puts him down for a legdrop from Finlay, before some Dusty punches put Tanga in the corner.

Avalanche clotheslines follow in the corner, as does a cannonball, as the challengers looked to edge ahead… before a Bushwhackers-like battering ram with Taguchi barged through Tama, Ishimori and… Juice. Whoops. Everyone ends up outside, with Juice crashing into the floor with a sickening thud from a slam. Back in the ring, Juice remains isolated as Ishimori twisted his neck before a stalling suplex from Loa dumped Juice for a two-count, with a head gear-wearing Taguchi breaking it up. Juice tries to fight back, but just heads headbutted by Tama, who tries to clear the apron, only to find out just how effective Taguchi’s headgear was. I laughed.

Taguchi tags in but whiffs on a hip attack, before Ishimori’s handspring enziguiri came to nought because… helmet. Everyone gets hip attacks as Taguchi’s noggin was kept safe, only for him to run out of gas in the tank. Finlay’s tagged in as Taguchi’s all gassed, but he’s able to use his arse again as Tanga Loa was whipped into it for a near-fall. Planchas from Juice and Taguchi miss as Finlay’s left on his lonesome, taking a scoop slam from Tanga Loa, before Juice returned with a crossbody as we had a Parade of Moves.

Tama Tonga whips off Taguchi’s head gear, and promptly dumps him with a Gun Stun… there’s a Stunner from Tama from Finlay, who then almost rolled up Tanga for the win, only for the Apeshit to get the win. A fun trios match, and I kinda liked the comedy of Taguchi protecting his head in an era where everyone seems to like landing on theirs. ***½

Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano & Gedo
Hope you like Suzuki-gun tags – we’ve got two of them for you! This one’s all about the Taichi/Goto match that we’ll get in Beppu on Monday.

Much like on the Road shows, we have a jump start with Taichi choking Goto with his mic stand, and the match starts on the outside as the focus goes where it should: on the guys fighting for the NEVER title on Monday. There’s Irish whips as Kanemaru and Goto taste the guard railings, while Yano goes all fair-play on the muzzled Iizuka in the ring.

Yano slaps Iizuka in the back of the head to rile up the mad man, and you know what’s next… the sushizanmai pose! I wonder how many freebies they get every time they do that? We’re quickly back outside as Goto and Taichi are in the crowd, with Taichi borrowing some tricks from his boss as he choked Goto with a guard rail, while Iizuka just stood in the ring awaiting SOMEONE to return. That somebody was Gedo, who rolled back in to some stomps while Taichi distracted the referee with the NEVER title belt as Gedo remained isolated.

Iizuka’s teeth are freed, and Gedo’s the first man to get eaten, then Yano, and finally Goto as some day Iizuka will stop teething. But not before he’s nibbled on Gedo’s boot. Gedo goes for the beard, but Iizuka’s got a plan B: some rope to choke him with! Gedo manages to commandeer the rope and turn things around eventually pulling Iizuka into a thrust kick as a bloodied Goto gets the tag in. Clobbering lariats are traded with Taichi as Goto clears house, taking Taichi into the corner for a spinning heel kick, then a Saito suplex for a near-fall. Taichi tries to get back with a clothesline, but he finally takes down Goto with an enziguiri before the rest of Suzuki-gun hit the ring and wore down Goto. Eventually Taichi whips off his trousers and nails a buzzsaw kick for a one-count, as the ring fills… and clears once more, before Goto catches Kanemaru with an ushigoroshi.

The GTR quickly follows, but Taichi rolls in and boots away the referee at the count of two, before blasting Goto with the mic stand… and yeah, that’s the predictable DQ. Well, Taichi lost the battle, but he’s trying to win the war for Monday as he continued to lay out Goto with the mic stand, then a Last Ride powerbomb afterwards. This was fine – a little bit better than your usual Suzuki-gun brawls, but it was more of a set-up than anything else. ***¼

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., TAKA Michinoku & El Desperado) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA)
We’ve got Naito vs. Suzuki on Monday, so here’s some more build as TAKA Michinoku’s reunited with Zack Sabre Jr!

Meanwhile, we had Saturday Naito Fever, since he came to Hiroshima in his suit and cape.

Shockingly, we’ve a jump start as Suzuki and Naito brawl on the outside, with the former taking a guard rail chest-first. Oof. In the ring, SANADA just dropkicks his way past Desperado and TAKA, before he looked to tie them up in Paradise locks. Desperado remained in the ring as LIJ just wore through him, with a rewind sunset flip/low dropkick putting Despy down for two, before he was stretched by he tassles of his own mask.

BUSHI takes a shot at Desperado, but quickly gets caught with a hanging armbar in the ropes by Suzuki, who let go and started stalking Naito as the pair brawl up the aisle. There’s a PK on the catwalk from Suzuki, before a chair’s grabbed from the commentary table and jabbed into Naito’s gut. Naito’s put in, then kicked out of the chair, before Suzuki came back to the ring and just blasts BUSHI with an elbow. A cross armbreaker’s next, but Naito wanders in and stomps on Suzuki’s face to break it up, which just earns the leader of LIJ some elbows as the pair brawled some more on the apron. Suzuki teases a Gotch piledriver onto the apron, before the pair countered back and forth, with Naito instead getting choked out on the apron and was left hanging a la Goto back at WrestleKingdom. JESUS.

With Naito out on the floor, with Suzuki staring on his fallen prey, it’s Sabre’s turn to bend people into shapes, gong for an ankle lock on BUSHI. An enziguiri breaks that up but the ring quickly fills up as EVIL clears it with a double clothesline, before dropping Sabre with a sidewalk slam for a near-fall. Zack hits back with a series of kicks, PK’ing through EVIL, only to get a thrust kick as the King of Darkness fought back.

EVIL clotheslines Sabre out of the corner, but he’s quickly met with an Octopus stretch as Sabre slipped away from Darkness Falls. There’s still no sign of Naito, as EVIL gets to the ropes… only to get battered 1-on-4, being forced to kick out from a knee strike from TAKA. The Bully choke follows, but Naito finally slithers back in to break it up… and promptly gets abused again by Suzuki with another rear naked choke. Away from that, TAKA looks for a Michinoku Driver, but he’s unable to do it as LIJ focus on TAKA… Desperado and Sabre’s wiped out on the outside leaving TAKA prone for the Magic Killer as LIJ took the win. Despite their leader getting all the oxygen strangled out of him. Monday is going to be fun, and probably a little murderous based on this form! ***¾

Post-match, medics came out and tried to stretcher away Nait as they showed shots of the crowd in tears, shocked at what they saw.

Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI & Jay White vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
We’ve got to wait until next Sunday in Kobe to see if Okada can wrestle the G1 briefcase away from Tanahashi – and claim the IWGP title shot at WrestleKingdom in the new year.

Jay White’s already an annoyance, as he tagged himself in at the start, spoiling Okada’s wishes to face Tanahashi… then reminded the Rainmaker “hey, I beat him in the G1, you didn’t”

White started by going for Tanahashi’s hair, taking him into the corner for some chops before a headlock takedown saw the Kiwi put on the mat. Tana goes for the hair himself, then tags in Honma for a big pop, who threw a couple of chops himself. Of course, Honma goes for, and whiffs on a Kokeshi, before White went outside and threw Tanahashi between the ring apron and guard rails… thankfully nowhere near the English commentary desk.

Okada stares at White to sort-of break it up, and back in the ring White deliberately doesn’t tag in Okada, instead bringing in YOSHI-HASHI for a brief spell. YOSHI tags in Okada, as Honma found himself cornered for a while, then squashed with a slingshot senton as Okada looked to use Honma as a proxy for Tanahashi. White returns and blasts through Honma with a chop, before a leaping Kokeshi out of the corner finally got Honma some daylight as he brings in Makabe!

Makabe clears house with some right hands, then a bodyslam to YOSHI-HASHI before he went for White in the corner. Switchblade slips out of the mounted punches and rushes in to tag Okada, who took those punches eventually. Okada turns it around with a DDT, but Makabe’s easily up at two, before Tanahashi comes in, nails a Twist and Shout, then a Slingblade for a near-fall as YOSHI-HASHI had to make the save. The High Fly Flow’s teased next, but Okada dropkicks him onto the top rope, as YOSHI-HASHI comes in with a running Head Hunter… before Jay White tries to corrupt him by offering a chair. Tanahashi elbows White off the apron, and followed up on a distracted YOSHI with a Dragon screw, who found himself triple-teamed for a spell, taking duelling lariats and a Kokeshi, before White pushes Tanahashi off the top during a High Fly Flow.

Okada returns to try and double-team Tanahashi, who’d been trying a High Fly Flow, but in the end it backfires as Okada booted his partner before a small package puts away YOSHI-HASHI for the win. The story of this was how CHAOS couldn’t co-exist, and may well be planting more seeds for an implosing with Jay White again being the trouble starter here. A decent tag match, but we’ve got a long way to go before Kobe. ***¼

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega (c)
You know the story. Kenny Omega was well on the road to a perfect G1, and then he hit a giant, Stone Pitbull-shaped roadblock. Ishii was the MVP of the G1 for many people, and he’s getting his rewards here with a title shot – only his second ever IWGP Heavyweight title shot (the prior being at Wrestling Dontaku in May 2016).

The New Japan Cup in 2017. ****½. Wrestling Dontaku 2017. *****. The United States title tournament final. ****¾. The G1. ****¾. This is the fifth meeting in singles action, and just from out tastes, this is going to be GOOD.

They don’t exactly blast into each other, instead taking a measured start as a tie-up came to nought, as did some early shoulder tackles, which Omega responded to by raking the eyes, only for Ishii to take him down with a shoulder charge. There’s some early V-Triggers which Ishii avoids as instead we get back-and-forth elbows, before a DDT from Omega just spiked Ishii on his head. That looked to cause more shoulder issues than anything else, but Omega picks up Ishii and kicks him in the back before hauling him up for a simple neckbreaker for a near-fall.

A chinlock keeps Ishii down, as the crowd fell rather silent, save for the odd shout for Ishii. He rares back into life as Omega took him into the corner, following in with a leaping back elbow before Ishii caught him with a scoop slam off the ropes. Omega lands a ‘rana to take Ishii to the outside, where a Terminator tope con giro saw Kenny land squarely on the shoulder that’d been aggravated earlier.

Back inside, a Kotaro Krusher keeps Ishii down, but just when it looked to be overly one-sided, Ishii fires back and clotheslines Omega back to the outside. We get some chops on the outside, back-and-forth, but it was Omega’s who looked to have a lot more behind them, as the English announce table was shooed away… because Kenny was about to get caught for a teased One Winged Angel through it.

Ishii couldn’t complete it, so we get a snap suplex on the floor as Kevin Kelly commandeered the audio equipment, which was just as well as a baseball slide dropkick allowed Omega to put Ishii on the English commentary desk before he returned to the ring… and springboarded back with a double stomp over the guard railings and through the table. JESUS CHRIST.

Omega returns to the ring as he tried to take a count-out, but Ishii somehow is able to get himself up and back into the ring, where the Aoi Shoudou followed as Omega regained the driver’s seat. Ishii’s able to sidestep a V-Trigger though and eventually catch Kenny with a backdrop suplex, before some chops finally had Kenny on the back foot. Chops that were aimed squarely at the throat had the champion on the defensive as somehow we passed the 15 minute mark, just as Omega’s bloody POUNCED into the turnbuckle.

A Last Ride-style powerbomb’s next for a near-fall, but Omega’s back up to tease V-Triggers only to get caught on the top rope as he’s forced to boot away Ishii… but instead he eats a leaping headbutt as the challenger brings him down to earth with a bump, courtesy of a superplex!

Omega ducks a lariat and hits a German suplex, but that gets an instant reply before we finally get a V-Trigger! That’s not instantly followed-up on though, as Omega waits before hitting some elbows to the head of Ishii, including a discus forearm before he snapped Ishii to the mat with a Dragon suplex. Another V-Trigger rocks Ishii, who’s hoisted up for a One Winged Angel, but it’s too soon… and despite countering out, Ishii’s rocked with a sheer drop brainbuster that was a little too vertical-drop for my liking.

Somehow, Ishii’s up at two, and Omega followed up with a series of V-Triggers, only for Ishii to collapse to the mat to avoid another one. Hey, I know that one… Kenny picks him up for another, before putting him into the corner for a V-Trigger from behind, then up to the top for a teased avalanche Dragon suplex. Ishii grabbed onto whatever he could to save his skin, so Omega switches for an avalanche Praying Mantis Bomb… only to have to change that into a V-Trigger as Ishii still clung onto the ropes.

Third time looks to be the charm as Omega looked for an avalanche One Winged Angel, but instead it’s countered with a rare top rope ‘rana from the Stone Pitbull! Clotheslines are next from Ishii, who blocks a V-Trigger and clunks his head into Omega before making the universal belt sign ahead of a V-Trigger of his own! A lariat flips Kenny, but it’s only enough for a two-count, before a brainbuster’s escaped… so Kenny takes another headbutt. Omega instantly responds with a lariat before lifting up Ishii… but he has to make do with a reverse ‘rana as the One Winged Angel still wasn’t coming up. 25 minutes in and they’re still throwing these bombs… good LORD.

Both men get back to their feet and resume throwing elbows and forearms, but a missed enziguiri just earns Ishii a snap Dragon suplex and a rapid V-Trigger as Omega looked to force the issue once more. Another crack at the One Winged Angel just turned into the Croyt’s Wrath German suplex, before a V-Trigger cracked Ishii in the ropes, only for a lariat firmly put the brakes on the champion! The sliding lariat’s next as Red Shoes leaps in to count a near-fall, before the pair went back and forth once more.

There’s a nasty lariat from Ishii, but Omega responds with a Fire Thunder driver for a near-fall, before he lowers the knee pad for some stiffer V-Triggers. Christ, it came in with such force, Omega sent himself to the outside… before returning for another, but Ishii’s up at ONE?! These men are NOT HUMAN.

V-Triggers and enziguiri are exchanged, before a Praying Mantis Bomb dumped Ishii for another two-count, right as we cross the half-hour mark! More V-Triggers lead to the One Winged Angel, dumping Ishii on his head… and that’s enough for the win. Well, these two can’t fail to have crackers – and that run continued. Whether it was the head, neck or shoulder, Ishii took a pasting throughout, and still managed to come close to the win… but in the end, the trusty One Winged Angel was the turning point as Omega exorcised the ghost of his G1 loss with an instant classic. ****¾

Destruction in Hiroshima largely managed to avoid the curse of these spread-out shows, with the undercard being largely good – rather than disposable as they have tended to be in the past. Of course, there was one match on the show that drew everyone in, but at least what came before it made you feel like you weren’t entirely wasting your time ahead of a bout that could well feature highly on those match of the year polls. There’s another Road to… show on Sunday, which isn’t streaming live, before Destruction hits the coastal city of Beppu on Monday, with a line-up headed by Naito vs. Suzuki and Taichi vs. Goto. That main event alone should entice you given today’s card!