After a disappointing Destruction in Fukushima, New Japan kept on the path with their second show, this time in Hiroshima.
Yeah, I’m not too sure I’d hold shows called “Destruction” in places that have some connection with nuclear destruction/accidents, but that’s just me. We’ve four title matches on this show – with the second round of the heavyweight three ways being perhaps the least table as both junior titles and the Intercontinental title are on the line.
This show also featured the Roppongi Vice Final – that is, the last time Beretta and Rocky Romero would team up as the sometimes-Trent is becoming a big boy now.
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Jado vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask
It’s a love in to start off as Jado’s hugging everyone… but yeah, it’s a ruse as he tries to cheapshot Liger, who initially overcomes Jado and his CHAOS buddies. After tripping up Liger on a dive, Jado goes to work with some chops on the cornered Liger, before YOSHI-HASHI comes in for the rope-hung dropkick. Goto tries his luck, but gets caught up top by Liger, who brings him down with a superplex before bringing in Tenzan to help keep things under control.
Mongolian chops for Goto! A suplex gets Tenzan a two-count, before Goto mounted a brief comeback, eventually dropping Tenzan with a clothesline. YOSHI-HASHI chops away, but quickly eats a Mountain bomb before Tiger Mask gets the tag, scoring with a crossbody… only to roll through into Jado. Tiger fights out and tries for the Tiger Driver, before settling for a crucifix pin that gets a near-fall on YOSHI-HASHI.
Some back-and-forth ensues as Tiger Mask counters the counter, hitting a Tiger Driver for a near-fall before YOSHI-HASHI gets a two from his left arm lariat, as the Butterfly Lock forces the submission. Brief and by-the-numbers – pretty much par for the course for one of these openers when there’s no Young Lions involved. **¼
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Leo Tonga) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
Well, with Kenny Omega injured, Juice has gone from “losing but not taking the fall” in the build-up to his US title match… to getting a lot of pins on the Bullet Club understudy Leo Tonga.
Juice and Finlay worked over Leo early, before Fale low-bridged Finlay to the outside so he could whip him into the guard railings. That seemed to give Leo an idea, as Juice meets the steel, and the Bullet Club pair keep up on Juice back in the ring as Kevin Kelly – solo on commentary today – told us about Leo Tonga training through a broken arm that he picked up on a New Japan tour last year.
Juice tries to fight back, and ducks when Fale catches him… that means that Tonga charged into Bad Luck before taking a double flapjack. A simple back senton nearly wins it for Juice, but he leaps into a chokeslam as Leo tried for some double duty… only to eat a Finlay Stunner and some Pulp Friction as Juice gets the W. Again, by the numbers, but I’d hope that Leo isn’t kept around eating losses after Omega’s back as this could do some damage to the long term – especially when guys of his size don’t come regularly in New Japan! **
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero)
This was the final match for Roppongi Vice, as the former four-time junior tag champs were going their separate ways after this.
Of course, we had a jump start, with Beretta fighting back out of the corner against Yujiro as the Bullet Club had a comfortable start here. Beretta takes the old Shawn Michaels bump into the turnbuckles before eating a big boot and a slingshot lungblower from Chase for a near-fall. Eventually, a tornado DDT gets Beretta in as he’s able to make the tag to Romero – whilst Chase goes to the wrong corner!
Rocky gives everyone headscissors, then Forever lariats, at least until a double-team clothesline puts him down. Chase gets knocked off the apron and somehow ends up on the other side as Roppongi Vice got to work through some of their double-team stuff on an isolated Yujiro.
Owens saves Yujiro from a Strong Zero, then superkicks Beretta out of a Dude Buster, turning the move almost into a Destroyer as the Bullet Club double-teamed the new heavyweight, scoring a back suplex/neckbreaker combo for a near-fall. Owens tries for a package piledriver, but instead gets a pair of knees from the former tag champs, who polished off Chase with Strong Zero for the win! Roppongi Vice end with a win – and a solid, not spectacular sign-off. ***
After the match, Yujiro gets the microphone… and my Japanese is non-existent. Thankfully, Yujiro translates, telling Beretta to go back to the juniors as the heavyweight class is too hard for him. There’s a challenge for a singles match, which isn’t answered as Roppongi Vice celebrated afterwards instead. Yeah, I was half expecting a turn, but I’ve seen too many long-standing tag team split for spurious reasons lately…
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin & Kota Ibushi
Yep, we have a jump start! TAKA chokes away om Kota Ibushi as we have “one of those” matches that’s hard to follow, with Suzuki throwing Michael Elgin into a table, before choking him with a mic cord.
Poor Hirai Kawato gets thrown into the railings as Suzuki just felt like going after anyone, with Ibushi being his next target as Kota was double-teamed. We finally settle down to Iizuka biting away on Ibushi in the ring, who’s left isolated and damn-near triple-teamed. Eventually, Kota lands a dropkick as he’s able to make the tag out, as we get Makabe and Suzuki for a spell…
A powerslam takes Suzuki into the corner for some mounted punches, but the Northern Lights is countered with a front facelock, at least momentarily, as Makabe gets the move off in the end. The pair tee off on each other with forearms, ending with a lariat from Makabe as Ibushi returns… and quickly gets caught in the ropes by a choke from Iizuka.
We’re back to the triple-teaming as Suzuki boots Ibushi in the gut, before the ref stops a blatant punch… which allows Iizuka to choke Ibushi with a rope. After the cover’s broken up, Iizuka grabs the funky oven glove, but Big Mike disarms him and the glove’s sent flying… allowing Ibushi to drop him with a head kick and a standing moonsault for a near-fall. All that’s left is for Kota to hit Iizuka with the Kamigoya knee strike, and that puts the madman down for the pin. Thankfully lacking on Suzuki-gun shenanigans, this was a pretty solid trios match – and you have to wonder, why is Kota randomly on this show? Perhaps we’ll find out by the end of the night… ***
Ah yes, Suzuki’s got a chair. The Young Lions in yellow don’t scatter, and instead they try and take him to the back. Yeah, Suzuki breaks free and whacks Kitamura with some chairshots to the back. They’ll learn.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi) vs. Funky Future (Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet)
The champions wore sparkly masquerade masks in a bid to mock Taichi, who needs no mocking. At least he was smart enough to head outside as the segment of Taguchi Japan tried for a fast start, and in the end, it led to Taichi and Kanemaru just double-teaming Taguchi to start off.
Taguchi breaks free for some hip attacks, before making Ricochet do the Hanson corner-to-corner clotheslines. Eventually Taichi gets wise to it, whipping Ricochet into Taguchi’s, erm, Funky Weapon. Cue the comedy when Taguchi realises things went wrong, as he end up walking into some double-teaming.
A legdrop off the rail guillotines Taguchi as Ricochet and Taichi head into the crowd, before returning with the ring bell hammer. Taguchi gets familiar with it as Ricochet’s attempt to tell the ref just lead to the distraction, and we find out again that the bell hammer is stronger than that Funky Weapon. Kanemaru overcomes a Taguchi fightback, moving away from a sit-out splash before delivering some hip attacks of his own…
Taguchi nearly got free to make the tag, except Taichi’d pulled Ricochet off the apron… which earns Taichi a springboard hip attack just as Ricochet got back on the apron for the hot tag. A big dropkick rocks Kanemaru, before Taichi eats a cornered 619 and a springboard uppercut. Ricochet keeps on rocking with the Northern Lights into a suplex for a near-fall. Kanemaru ducks the Benadryller then goes low with some dropkicks, as Taichi hits a couple of head kicks of his own. A jumping knee and a spin-out suplex gets Ricochet a near-fall after Taichi wasted time taking his trousers off, and we’re shooting to the finish it seemed as some whisky sprayed at Ricochet almost gets the win as Taichi got a two-count from a Gedo clutch.
Taichi keeps up with a buzzsaw kick to the head, before Ricochet escapes a Last Ride powerbomb, and lands a springboard dropkick instead. We’re back to Taguchi and Kanemaru, with the ladder sidestepping a hip attack, before turning another into a belly-to-back suplex for a near-fall.
Kanemaru almost wins the tag titles with the Deep Impact flying DDT, but Taguchi kicks out and resists a brainbuster, before rolling Kanemaru into an ankle lock! The ref’s grabbed by Kanemaru, which allows Taichi to come in and use the microphone stand to the head of Taguchi, then Ricochet, before forcing Taguchi to drink some whisky.
At least it wasn’t Red Bull…
A top rope moonsault nearly goes it as the challengers looked to be getting frustrated, with Taguchi flipping out of a powerbomb to land another hip attack at Taguchi, as Ricochet takes down Kanemaru with a top rope ‘rana, then a Benadryller, before they combined for a wheelbarrow Codebreaker… that gets a two-count thanks to Taguchi!
Ricochet comes back with a hip attack and a HUGE tope to wipe out Taichi in the aisle. Good… but Kanemaru’s attempt to counter a Dodon with a wheelbarrow ends badly as Taguchi kicks out, then reapplies the ankle lock, trapping Kanemaru in the middle of the ring before a springboard 450 splash from Ricochet knocked whatever wind was left out of him ahead of the tap-out. Funky Future retain, and I think this match may have been better than anything on last week’s PPV! Taguchi and Ricochet looked a little wonky at times, but at least they didn’t stopped these belts from being a hot potato for now! ***½
Before interval, Rocky Romero – who’d joined English commentary – took a microphone and acknowledged that “Roppongi Vice has died, but a new generation of Roppongi is born”. He’s got a new partner for Roppongi 3K, and they’re coming for the junior tag titles… but we’re not told who the new partner is.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) (c)
The second round of the triple threat series here, and with War Machine successfully defending in Fukushima last week, there were some half-expecting a title change here.
Hanson and Archer start off with the big lads shoulder tackles, but the Guerrillas insert themselves early, trying to pull everyone else out of the ring as they went to target Archer. The 2-on-1 targeting changes gears as War Machine go after Tanga Loa, then Tama Tonga, with Rowe charging Hanson into the corner to help with that, and you know what’s next… the corner-to-corner lariats!
Except Archer pounces Hanson mid-lariat, and whilst Archer works over Hanson everyone else just brawls on the ringside area. Another shoulder tackle sent Hanson spinning, before Archer threw the ref out after he only made a two-count. The KES drop Hanson with a chest kick/chop block combo, before Davey Boy’s shoved into Tanga Loa for an unintentional tag out. Loa hits an inverted atomic drop and a back suplex to Hanson, making him look light as a feather in the process, as the Guerrillas tried to wear down Hanson, with a Stinger splash from Tama helping things. Tama can’t avoid a handspring back elbow, nor a shotgun knee from Rowe, who then had to deal with a blindly-tagged in Smith… and did so with an Exploder suplex.
The KES land a Hart Attack on Rowe, before Archer’s splash put the tag champ down… just in time for the Guerrillas to attack the KES from behind, dropping Archer with a neckbreaker before Smith took the assisted Cross Rhodes. Problem is, Rowe’s the legal man… and he tried to fight back, only to get dropped with the Guerrilla Warfare assisted DDT… but the Guerrillas aren’t legal, so the pin isn’t even counted!
Lance Archer chokeslams Tama as he tried to cheat his way into a tag, and this sparks the Parade of Moves – spear, uranage, and a scoop reverse DDT completes the set! The Guerillas escape a Killer Bomb, before they’re sent outside into a Hanson tope as Davey Boy Smith Jr remained legal… just in time to take a big knee from Rowe, then Fallout as the champs regained again! The KES were decidedly on the back burner here, so I don’t know whether to read into that as “they’re winning” next week… Commentary made a big point of saying that the Guerrillas would have won had they been legal, but either way, this was a massive improvement on last week’s ponderous match, but this tag division is massively stuttering right now. ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, BUSHI, SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Will Ospreay & Gedo
There’s two matches for King of Pro Wrestling here – Naito/Ishii and EVIL/Okada – but it’s Ospreay and Hiromu who get us going, as they start a million miles an hour, ending with Hiromu winding up Ospreay after taking a backflip dropkick.
Toru Yano tags in and tries to do the turnbuckle stuff, but he takes too long and gets caught by SANADA, who trips him into a rolling cradle for an eventual two-count. Everyone else is fighting around the ring as Yano’s tied in the Paradise lock, and now the camera takes us to EVIL fighting someone in the crowd.
Finally Yano undoes the turnbuckle pad, but he kicks it away and leaves the corner exposes as Naito tries to whip him into it. That fails as Naito runs into it himself, allowing Yano to take the lead before bringing in Ishii to charge him down with a shoulder tackle. Naito seems to have a little trouble with Ishii, as they trade right hands before Naito manages to slip in a slingshot dropkick as the Ingobernables dragged the CHAOS crew back to the floor.
We eventually get to EVIL and Okada, with EVIL starting out with right hands before Okada’s sliding elbow knocked him flat to the mat. A neckbreaker slam dumps EVIL as they went back and forth, before the top rope elbow leads to the Rainmaker zoom-out. EVIL ducks the clothesline though, then hits a release Fisherman’s suplex to keep the match alive, before a lariat almost gets EVIL the big win.
Okada avoids the Everything is EVIL STO and lands a dropkick instead, before a flapjack takes us to Gedo and BUSHI… with Gedo quickly getting rid of Hiromu and keeping on rolling. Bodies fly around for a spell as we end up with Ishii and Naito again, before Gedo’s double-teamed for a near-fall. In the midst of that, EVIL dumps Okada with Everything is EVIL – but BUSHI and Gedo are still legal, meaning that the MX from BUSHI proved to be enough for the win. Another solid LIJ tag match, ending with Naito taking Ishii onto the ramp for more punishment to that taped-up knee before Okada takes Darkness Falls onto some chairs in the ring. ***½
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado vs. KUSHIDA (c)
We’ve got a slow starter here, as KUSHIDA tries to keep Desperado on the mat, whether it’s by headlock or by a handspring back elbow. Whatever works. Desperado sent KUSHIDA to the outside as he dropped into a splits as KUSHIDA charged at him… and eventually capitalise with a huge tope non hilo that sent him into over the guard railings.
The pair headed into the crowd again, with KUSHIDA becoming familiar with the seating layout again, as a Stretch Muffler forced KUSHIDA to tap in the crowd. Of course, that means nothing! For whatever reason, Desperado headed to the ring to look for a count-out, but KUSHIDA fought back, only to get trapped in an Indian deathlock instead.
Desperado brought a guitar case with him to ringside, but Red Shoes disarms the challenger as he went to smash it over KUSHIDA’s head. Instead, Despy’s gotten the leash they use to keep Iizuka under control, and uses it to lash KUSHIDA with as Desperado looked to turn the tide. Even though he’d worked over KUSHIDA’s leg, it wasn’t enough to stop the champion from hitting a handstand into a dropkick, before rolling up into a DDT.
KUSHIDA rolls through, but can’t get Back to the Future off, so he goes after Despy’s arm instead, looking to perhaps set up for a Hoverboard lock? Straight away it’s put in as Desperado went for a superplex, only to be yanked to the mat, but Desperado’s still able to crawl to the ropes… and then almost counter the Hoverboard lock into the stretch muffler! Finally he gets it, torquing KUSHIDA all over the place, before the champion’s able to drag himself into the ropes to force a break.
As medics check on KUSHIDA’s knee, Desperado wedges a chair in the corner… only to get whipped into it himself! KUSHIDA gets a second wind as he goes back to the arm as they trade finisher attempts, leading to a ref bump. Despy takes off his mask and throws it to KUSHIDA – teasing a foul in the process, but in the end Despy hits the low blow foul and a roll-up for a near-fall.
A Gory Driver gets Desperado another two-count, but you got the sense that this was a polite, “we’re clapping because we should” response, as opposed to “we think Desperado can actually win this”, especially when his attempt at the Pinche Loco drew little response. That chair’s still there in the corner, something that everyone but KUSHIDA’s face misses, before a top rope Pinche Loco’s countered into the Hoverboard Lock takedown!
Desperado tries to roll out, but he ends up with no defence as KUSHIDA rolls him into the middle of the ring for the Back to the Future – and there’s a successful defence as Suzuki-gun continues to leave tonight empty-handed… As I said, this was pretty good, but nobody seemed to think Desperado had a shot of winning, which automatically brings it down a bit. ***¼
Will Ospreay heads down to the ring after the match, congratulating KUSHIDA before calling back to the Best of the Super Juniors… then the Pro Wrestling World Cup finals… a series of matches that seems to get under Will’s skin as he can’t seem to beat KUSHIDA. Ospreay challenges KUSHIDA for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title at King of Pro Wrestling… but Hiromu Takahashi interrupts… and gets decked with a right hand before he could say a word.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c)
Hey, Zack’s using his PROGRESS theme here as he headed out for the “pretty white belt”. Sabre came into this with the notable submission win over Tanahashi from the G1, and with Tanahashi’s bicep still taped up, you’d have expected that to have been the target.
That wasn’t the case right out of the gate, as Sabre kept Tanahashi grounded, then grabbed an armbar the instant the champion tried to play to the crowd. Tanahashi has little luck playing Sabre at his own game, as every reversal just got switched back it seemed, before Tana edged ahead with a leg spreader on the challenger.
Just like that, Sabre escaped and went back to work on Tanahashi, going straight for the bandaged arm, including with a sweet armbar takedown from a plancha attempt to the outside. It’s familiar, yet new material from Zack, who ties Tanahashi in knots, before damn near getting dumped on his head as Tana tried to hang him up in the ropes.
That accidental comeback of sorts continues as Tanahashi kept up on Sabre’s legs, before flying into some indy’riffic pinning attempts. An impressively fluid countering series sees Sabre finally land an overhead kick to the bicep, before he trapped the arm in a triangle armbar. Another impressive counter came when Sabre’s triangle armbar is seamlessly switched into a cloverleaf, but Zack switches it straight back until a rope break is forced.
Sabre keeps stuffing Tanahashi’s offence, and wrenches his way into an Octopus stretch that would have forced a submission… but somehow Tanahashi dragged his body to the ropes and managed to take things to the apron for a Dragon Screw as Sabre awkwardly crumpled to the floor.
Some High Fly Flows looked to put Tanahashi on track, but then Minoru Suzuki heads down because we can’t have a Suzuki-gun main event without interference. Tanahashi gets shoved into the ref as Suzuki drags Tanahashi down for a PK… which connects, just in time for a near-fall as Red Shoes stirred. Michael Elgin runs down to stop Suzuki from using a chair, and once we’re done with the run-ins it’s back to business!
Another High Fly Flow’s blocked with the knees as Sabre goes for a double armbar, then a Euro clutch for a near-fall, as a guillotine looked to force a submission… except Tanahashi hits a hattrick of swinging neckbreakers, before a Slingblade and a High Fly Flow got the job done! That was a little rushed after the run-ins, but I liked how Tanahashi’s first big flurry was enough to get the win – even though Sabre had spent the entire night going after the arm. Yeah, I could have lived without the Suzuki run in, but that’s almost a given these days – and it didn’t detract too badly from the match itself. ****¼
After the match, Tanahashi issued a challenge for the man he’d handpicked to be his next challenger. Hey, it’s Kota Ibushi… and that’s why he was booked after missing the rest of the tour. Well, Ibushi got a win over Tanahashi in the G1, so it makes sense at least!
This show, whilst no great shakes in parts, was like night and day compared to Fukushima a week earlier. It’s a broken record, but splitting up a PPV into multiple shows doesn’t work from a critical perspective. Sure, it’s another house (and the associated merchandise monies too), but it leads to a lot of skippable matches. Still, at least this time things weren’t bland and grey throughout, and we actually had stuff building up to future shows – which is always nice!
If you were a Roppongi Vice fan, watch that and the second half, otherwise, just stick to the final few matches!