Destruction rolled into Kagoshima as Kota Ibushi put his G1 winner’s briefcase on the line against KENTA in the Monday main event.

Coverage from the Kagoshima Arena comes with English commentary, thanks to Kevin Kelly and Gino Gambino.

Young Lion Cup: Clark Connors vs. Yuya Uemura
Uemura’s yet to pick up any points, and he started on the defensive as Connors took him to the mat, looking to grapevine the legs ahead of a modified STF.

They head into the corner where Connors doesn’t exactly break cleanly, which prompts Uemura into action as he took down Connors with a hammerlock, before another chop and a drop toe hold led to a bodyslam as Uemura started to push ahead. A dropkick from Connors cuts him off, before a Boston crab forces Uemura to scramble for the ropes… which he did ahead of slapping the taste out of Connors’ mouth.

More chops follow as they were swinging for the fences, but it’s Uemura who broke through with an armdrag ahead of a Boston crab, twice dragging Connors away from the ropes as Uemura finally broke his duck! Some excellent fire from Uemura here towards the end, as he scored a virtual upset in the opener. Grand stuff! ***

Young Lion Cup: Michael Richards vs. Ren Narita
Richards’ run so far has been a little underwhelming, with only one win in four matches, and he’s instantly taken down by Narita, who was looking to regain a share of the lead.

Narita’s work on the ankle led to him getting caught in a cross armbreaker, before the pair ended up in the ropes with Narita clinging into the leg. Another takedown keeps the Kiwi on the deck, as does a shoulder tackle, as Narita keeps the pressure on with another side headlock.

That side headlock is squeezed in by Narita, but Richards breaks it by lifting him up into a back suplex, before a vertical suplex dropped Ren for a near-fall. A single leg crab followed, but Richards couldn’t keep it in as Narita got to the rope, but a clothesline from Richards decked Narita for another near-fall. My feed blanks out (yay), and comes back with Narita sending Richards into the ropes for the Narita Special #4 – and the bridging belly-to-belly gets Narita the win as Richards is sent to the bottom of the pile. ***

So with everyone having two matches left, here’s how they stand…

Young Lion Cup Standings
Karl Fredericks, Ren Narita, Shota Umino (4-1; 8pts)
Clark Connors (3-2; 6pts)
Alex Coughlin (2-3; 4pts)
Michael Richards, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura (1-4; 2pts)

Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Karl Fredericks & Alex Coughlin vs. Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shota Umino & Yota Tsuji
Henare’s teaching Nakanishi the Haka, which is a nice touch…

We’ve a hot start as Coughlin and Tsuji launched into each other, as Tsuji really didn’t want this to go long. He runs into a chop as Coughlin put the brakes on, as tags take us to Umino and Fredericks for a spell. Fredericks catches Umino with a leapfrog/leaping crossbody combo, then with a dropkick as Nakanishi charges the ring to clear the apron so Umino couldn’t tag out.

Henare comes in to light up Umino with chops ahead of a big stalling suplex for a near-fall that Taguchi’s straight in to break it up. Tsujji comes in to break Coughlin’s pin, stomping him in the leg to do so as Nakanishi got a tag in to keep Umino cornered. We’re back to Fredericks, who slams Umino before he missed a leaping elbow drop, finally giving Umino a break… eventually allowing Taguchi to tag in.

Fredericks takes some hip attacks, as does Henare, Coughlin, and eventually Nakanishi. Nagata’s in next to kick his sometime-tag partner, before a clothesline put Nagata down in response. Nakanishi measures up for a second clothesline, which draws a near-fall, before he ran into an Exploder suplex as Nagata looked to finish things off with a Shirome armbar… but it’s broken up. Tsuji and Henare stay in, with Tsuji landing a slam before a Boston crab had Henare in trouble. Coughlin tries to break it up with chops to the throat of a bloodied Tsuji, who decided to break the hold so he could spear Coughlin away. All that gave Henare time to recover as they go back to forearms, until Henare’s headbutt led to a spear tackle for a near-fall. Nakanishi clears the ring as Henare looks for the Toa Bottom, and that’s enough to put Tsuji away. A fun multi-man, as we go back to the “when are they going to do anything with Henare?” question… ***

Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa), Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens)
Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI fell short of winning the tag title last night, so of course, we’ve got the fall-out here.

The CHAOS team jump start the match as Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI went after the Guerrillas on the outside, despite Fale’s swipe at Ishii. They end up in the ring with Fale clotheslining yesterday’s failed challengers, before Fale tied up the referee to mask a bunch of guard rail throws. YOSHI-HASHI’s hurled into the ring post wile Fale offers up YOSHI-HASHI for English commentary to chop. Ever biased, Kevin Kelly refused… SHO’s left open for the Tongan Massage spot, as Fale and Chase stands on him in the ropes, before Tama Tonga crushed him in the corner with a leaping Stinger Splash for a near-fall. Tanga Loa dropkicks Ishii to the outside as there was some attempted interference, before SHO lands a dropkick to buy himself some time… eventually tagging out to YOSHI-HASHI.

YOSHI-HASHI’s a house afire here with chops and low dropkicks before he hung Tanga Loa in the ropes for another dropkick. The Guerrillas try to double-team, but Ishii makes the save as Tanga Loa gets double-teamed ahead of a German suplex into the corner. Chase Owens comes in to take the double leaping knees, before Roppongi 3K were overwhelmed by the Guerrillas. SHO’s spear saves YOH from a Magic Killer… and from there a small package led to the mother of all upsets as YOH pinned the IWGP tag team champions! A heck of a surprise, and a popular one too… although the expected jump after the match means this feud must continue! ***¼

After the match, YOH finally took the Magic Killer, as the Bullet Club slunk to the back.

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Jushin Thunder Liger
With Zack Sabre Jr. regaining his Rev Pro belt last night, this is all about heating up Suzuki vs. Liger for some point down the road. Like it needs it…

Of course we’ve a jump start as the match spills outside, with Liger getting tossed straight into the guard rails by Suzuki while Kanemaru and Honma trade shoulder tackles early. Honma misses a Kokeshi, because of course he does, before connecting on the second attempt. Tanahashi and Sabre tag in to pick up where they left off yesterday, as Sabre worked on Tanahashi’s left arm, only for the former Rev Pro champion to get free and land a springboard crossbody out of the corner. Things break down again as Liger was taken into the crowd by Suzuki, before he got buried by chairs and a trio of crowd barriers. Liger comes towards ringside with a chair in hand as we had a stand-off at ringside, with Suzuki actually wearing his the chair he was looking to use.

Suzuki looked to work over Tanahashi’s arm, but Liger runs in to break it up with boots and elbows, only for Suzuki to kick him off the apron instead. DOUKI comes in to jab Tanahashi with his pipe, all while the ref was distracted by Suzuki, before Sabre came in and ate a Dragon screw from Tanahashi. Tags get us to Makabe and Suzuki, with Togi charging through Suzuki ahead of a clothesline and some mounted punches in the corner. DOUKI and Kanemaru try to break it up, but they just get clotheslined before a swivelling lariat from Makabe decked Suzuki again. Liger wants in with Suzuki down and out… and gets it as he prepped for a Shotei, landing it in the corner!

More chops light up Suzuki, who threw back in response, before he caught Liger with a rear naked choke. DOUKI tags in to try and claim a scalp, but he just runs into a tiltawhirl backbreaker before the ring flooded to quadruple-team DOUKI. Another Shotei decks DOUKI after he tried to pull off Liger’s mask, but Suzuki’s in to stop a brainbuster as the referee then got decked with a chair. Liger gets some chairshots too, and there’s your cheap DQ as a gaggle of Young Lions slid in to try and stop Suzuki from unmasking Liger. They fail. ***

The absolute hush that descended around Kagoshima when Liger was unmasked – and that’s only riling up Liger even more. Are we getting a new mask, or the return of Kishin?

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Rocky Romero
Here’s BUSHI to make us all jealous with masks again… as I remain fed up with this particular match-up. Switch it up!

Goto and Shingo get us going with chops, before shoulder tackles had Shingo ahead… at least until Goto reversed a suplex. Rocky’s in to help with a shoulder tackle too, before LIJ came in to help restore order (in their eyes at least). BUSHI tags in to choke Rocky with a t-shirt, following up with a neckbreaker for a near-fall. SANADA makes it worse as he gives Rocky flashbacks, putting him in a Paradise Lock before a low dropkick feed him. Shenanigans see Shingo go after Goto, taking him into the guard rails while BUSHI chokes away on Rocky behind everyone’s back. Rocky tries to fight back on SANADA, and succeeds as he claws his way free, landing a rewind enziguiri before tagging out to Okada.

Okada steamed ahead on SANADA, but a tombstone’s blocked before SANADA looked to hit back with a TKO that turned into a Skull End. That too’s countered as Okada looks for a tombstone again, before a teased Rainmaker was ducked and turned into a back suplex. There’s triple-teaming aimed at Okada as LIJ looked to finish the job, but BUSHI’s MX was always a bit of a weird one… and Okada runs under as a Parade of Moves broke out, ending with a lariat from Goto! Okada takes advantage as he surprises SANADA with a tombstone before clocking BUSHI with a dropkick. The Rainmaker elbow drop is next, followed by the Rainmaker clothesline as BUSHI’s folded up rather suggestively for the pin. Pretty simple stuff at the end, as Okada stood tall over a battered SANADA at the end. ***¼

Bullet Club (Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL)
The last of the warm-ups tonight keep us on course for Jay White’s quest to win the Intercontinental title next weekend…

Naito’s stalling before the bell to wind up White, and this time they’re smart to the jump start as he and EVIL caught White and Yujiro in the act. Naito turns the tempo up quickly with an armdrag and a low dropkick to White, before offering a fist bump… that just turned into some right hands. A Combinacion Cabron awaits White, but Gedo grabs a leg to stop it as White struck back with a neckbreaker before taking him outside and into the guard rails. The pair head into the crowd as White continued to mock Naito, which led to a monster count-out tease as Naito had to sprint to beat the count. Back in the ring, Yujiro tags in against his former No Limit partner, dropping Naito for some right hands on the mat. Elbow drops are good for a two-count, before Naito was taken outside with White charging him between the apron and guard rails.

White’s back in to keep up on Naito in the corner, with a snapping ‘rana taking Naito down again, before he fell to a neckbreaker as Naito stayed in it. Tags get us to EVIL and Yujiro, but there’s a quick trip from Gedo as the interference had little effect. A backbreaker from EVIL dumps White, who’s left cornered for a Bronco buster for a near-fall. Some misdirection from EVIL backfires as he gets spiked with a DDT, but things swing back around when Yujiro returns. White has to save Yujiro from Darkness Falls, before he dished out a Blade Buster to help Yujiro pick up a near-fall. Yujiro busts out a modified Angle Slam before he looked for Pimp Juice… but the ring fills to stop that as Naito lands an enziguiri as an EVIL clothesline nearly put him away… before Everything is EVIL proved to be enough to get the win. This one started out good, but meandered a little… but my worries for that match on Sunday still nag. ***½

Post-match, White low blows Naito and left him laying as White tried to convince the crowd he was winning on Sunday.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) (c)
This started in Australia when Robbie Eagles left Bullet Club… and since joined Will Ospreay with CHAOS. A non-title win at London’s Royal Quest led to this rematch, with the belts on the line.

We started with Ospreay and Phantasmo, but things quickly spill outside as duelling planchas had the Bullet Club on the back foot. Back inside, Ospreay and Eagles work over Phantasmo’s arm with a bunch of arm wringers, before Ishimori tagged in… and met the same fate. Ishimori manages to confuse Eagles with some misdirection as he got back in with the springboard senton, before ELP went wild with back rakes.

ELP holds Eagles flat across the mat so Ishimori could land a springboard stomp for just a one-count. Eagles is kept isolated as a backbreaker/elbow drop combo earned a two-count for the champions, before ELP’s Magistral cradle got another two-count while keeping Eagles away from a tag. Even more so when they hung him upside down for the Gas Pedal… Phantasmo tried to keep Eagles down, but Eagles’ attempt to escape with Sliced Bread ends up taking a longer way around as he had to counter a whirlibird neckbreaker before Ospreay got the tag in. Will ups the tempo with an over-the-top 619 before a springboard forearm came up blank, instead dumping ELP with a satellite DDT. Ishimori tries to sneak in a handspring, but Ospreay sidesteps and lands a handspring enziguiri before catching ELP in the corner for a Cheeky Nando’s for a near-fall.

Another swift exchange led to ELP countering a Ligerbomb by flipping out and slapping Ospreay, before Ishimori flew in with a baseball slide German suplex for a near-fall. A moonsault from Phantasmo keeps the pressure on as Ospreay was suddenly on the defensive with little answer to the Bullet Club’s double-teaming, until Eagles came in as the pair found a way through with so much stuff I couldn’t even digest what was happening!

Ospreay snatches a two-count amid that before landing a hook kick, but Ishimori avoids a Storm Breaker before taking an enziguiri. A second Storm Breaker’s countered with Ishimori decking Ospreay with a clothesline. Eagles comes in to catch Ishimori with a ‘rana as he was on ELP’s shoulders, as the momentum was swinging wildly, with Ospreay and Eagles hitting duelling topes con giro across the corners. Back in the ring, a springboard forearm nearly won Ospreay the titles, before the challengers went for the Redwing… but ELP breaks it up with back rakes before turning it into a Tower of Doom. It doesn’t work as ELP then went for a double sunset bomb, but Eagles and Ospreay land on their feet before Ospreay countered an Ishimori ‘rana into a powerbomb/Sliced Bread combo as they continued to bust out some innovative double-teams.

A reverse ‘rana from Ishimori helps to buy him some more time, as he resumed by trading forearms with Eagles until Ospreay swept the leg ahead of a flying stomp to the knee from Eagles on the apron. From there, a springboard dropkick targets the knee as Eagles went straight to the Ron Miller Special, trapping Ishimori in the middle of the ring, before he dragged him back… where a springboard 450 splash from Ospreay helped Eagles reapply the hold as Ospreay did his damndest to stop Phantasmo from making a save, only for a death valley driver onto the pile to break it up. And breathe.

Phantasmo tags himself in after that so he could toy with Eagles, but the Aussie fought back with a slap and a little Violence Party in the corner. A missed double knees in the corner opened the door for Phantasmo, who caught Eagles with a crossbody and a Quebrada, before Ospreay was taken into the crowd for a massive moonsault that took both men into the front row! Back in the ring, ELP looks for a springboard splash, only for Eagles to get his knees up. More kicks deck Phantasmo before a backflip DDT nearly led to new champions. Eagles took his time to head up top, landing a 450 splash to the leg, as another Ron Miller special was teased… ELP pushes him away into the path of Ishimori’s belt shot, but it’s not enough! Eagles makes the save after a whirlibird neckbreaker on Ospreay, but an OsCutter’s blocked and turned into an assisted tombstone gutbuster. Superkicks deck Eagles from there, before a Bloody Cross and the CR2 left the Aussie laying, as the Bullet Club retained. A hell of a match with a lot of jaw-dropping sequences… and with Phantasmo getting the win, his quest for Will Ospreay’s IWGP Junior title continues ahead of King of Pro Wrestling next month. ****¾

KENTA vs. Kota Ibushi
Ibushi’s shot at the IWGP title’s on the line here, as we begin the tradition of the G1 Climax winner defending their right to challenge at WrestleKingdom. KENTA beat Kota all the way back on the opening night of the G1, hence this match… in Ibushi’s hometown.

KENTA dives into Ibushi with a Busaiku knee as soon as Kota hit the ring, before he decked Ibushi with the briefcase. The bell’s not rung, so this is all legal. KENTA takes out that contract and smashes the briefcase, before he spurred Chris Charlton into action on Twitter translating some trash talk, with KENTA claiming that he’ll win the title shot and make a Bullet Club version of the briefcase instead.

They stall for time as they checked on Ibushi, and when Kota demanded to start… he’s met with a second Busaiku knee as KENTA took control. Ibushi’s taken outside and into the guard rails, back-first then chest-first a la Bret Hart as the crowd railed on the Bullet Club’s latest hire. Commentary teases a stoppage, but instead Red Shoes starts a count-out, which KENTA stops so he could DDT Ibushi in the aisle as he was making a point of targeting the much-injured neck.

Kota crawls back towards the ring on his hands and knees, beating the 20-count, before he got taken in for a draping DDT a la Jado. Ibushi kicks out at two, but quickly got taken into the corner for some more kicks as KENTA looked to be going for that hanging dropkick… only for Ibushi to rise up and fight back. Kicks take him back in though, as KENTA keeps up the offence, grounding Ibushi with a side headlock on the mat. Eventually, Ibushi hits back with a dropkick, then with a scoop slam as a springboard moonsault saw Kota build up momentum, picking up a near-fall in the process. KENTA rolls outside, but can’t avoid a pescado that saw KENTA take a lot of the legs to the face. Back in the ring, Ibushi tries to go for a German suplex, but instead they go for snapmares and punts to the back before they began to trade forearms. Duelling head kicks left both men on the deck at the ten minute mark.

KENTA gets sent outside, but he chops out Kota’s legs as a Golden Triangle moonsault was being teased, taking Ibushi into the corner as his legs got wrapped around the post. The guard rails get used as KENTA continued to work on the legs, before he used a chair on the tied-up leg of the G1 winner. The pair head towards commentary row as a knee breaker looked to go awry… almost looking like someone may have lost their phone in the process.

Returning to the ring, KENTA stomps Kota’s knee into the mat, before another flurry of strikes from Kota was stopped with a Dragon screw. It’s back to the leg as KENTA traps him in a heel hook, which fortunately ends as Ibushi rolled into the ropes as things were looking bleak for him. Somehow Ibushi’s able to break free, instantly replying with a running boot as he sent KENTA into the corner, but he’s hobbling as he misses with a Shibata-ish dropkick, allowing KENTA to go right back to the heel hook. After getting free, Ibushi’s caught with the hanging dropkick in the corner before KENTA went up for a double stomp that found its mark for a near-fall.

A leg grapevine keeps the pressure on Ibushi as KENTA worked into a Figure Four – the look on Ibushi’s face as he was being pulled away from the ropes was priceless – but somehow he’s able to roll over onto his front as he dragged his way to the rope. Hey, doesn’t turning the hold around lead to it somehow reversing the effects?

Regardless, KENTA’s back up with a Busaiku knee to the back before he was met with a lariat from Ibushi. A powerbomb follows for near-fall as Ibushi was trying to build fresh momentum, but it’s all wrecked when KENTA drags down the referee to try and hide the GOD’s interference. They do nothing as Ibushi lands a buzzsaw kick and a Bomaye knee with Tama Tonga pulling out the referee as the interference resumed. A Magic Killer lays out Ibushi, before Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI sprint out to save Ibushi from a super powerbomb as we’ve completely left New Japan house style behind.

The GOD brawl to the back as we’re left with our original match, as KENTA and Kota lay it in with forearms. A right hand and a PK almost get KENTA the win, before a Kamigoye pushed Ibushi a little further… but still, he kicks out! KENTA teases a Go 2 Sleep, but Kota escapes and lands a Kamigoye of his own for another near-fall. From there, Ibushi pulls down the knee pads for one more vicious Kamigoye, and that is is. I can see this splitting opinion – it’ll be way too “WWE-like” for a lot of people, but they also needed to heavily protect KENTA. Yeah, “why book the match?” is an argument, but at least this wasn’t an absolute stinker as Kota’s building up resilience. ***¾

After the match, someone appears on the ramp… it’s EVIL! He also beat Kota in the G1, so there’s your next certificate match!

Just like in Beppu, this was another solid show, but the highs were just a touch higher. Like a lot of these split shows, if you’re pushed for time watch the “big” matches, but at least make time for the Young Lion Cup bouts too as that tournament continues to be sneaky-good. We’ve got a trio of Road shows from here on in (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) as the Young Lion Cup builds up to its finale on next Sunday’s Destruction in Kobe. We’ll cover those cup matches after they drop on demand…

New Japan, Destruction, Destruction in Kagoshima, Clark Connors, Yuya Uemura, Michael Richards, Ren Narita, Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Karl Fredericks, Alex Coughlin, Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shota Umino, Yota Tsuji, Bullet Club, Guerrillas of Destiny, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, Roppongi 3K, SHO, YOH, Suzuki-gun, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru, DOUKI, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Jushin Thunder Liger, Los Ingobernables de Japon, SANADA, Shingo Takagi, BUSHI, Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Rocky Romero, Bullet Club, Jay White, Yujiro Takahashi, Los Ingobernables de Japon, Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles, Bullet Club, El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, KENTA, Kota Ibushi