Kobe World Hall’s the venue for today’s final round of the Destruction tour – with the final of the tag team three-ways and the first US title defence!
Unusually for New Japan, there’s technical issues right out of the gate, with ring announcer Kimihiko Ozaki finding out the hard way that his mic wasn’t plugged in.
Monster Rage (Katsuya Kitamura & Tomoyuki Oka) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hirai Kawato
We open here with Kawato and Oka, and yes, Kawato gets squashed by the larger tandem of Oka and Kitamura. He eventually gets in a dropkick to stem the tide, as Tenzan gets tagged in, and that’s where the Young Lions’ chances took a dramatic tumble.
Kitamura manages to land a spear to get Tenzan off his feet, before Oka came in and managed to do the same with a shoulder tackle. The belly-to-belly’s good for a near-fall, but Tenzan fired back with Mongolian chops before Kawato flung himself in with a springboard missile dropkick. Tenzan’s Kokeshi gets a two-count, so he slips down into an Anaconda Vice, and with no chance of a save, Oka’s forced to tap. Basic, by the numbers stuff to get us going – and with little reaction from the Kobe crowd too. I hope this isn’t a “start as we mean to go on” deal… **
Suzuki-gun (Takashi Iizuka, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Togi Makabe, Tiger Mask & Funky Future (Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi)
With Minoru in the States for an unsuccessful shot at ROH champion Cody Rhodes, everyone else in Suzuki-gun (bar the KES) gets to play in this multi-man tag.
Yup, we have a jump start, with Tiger Mask (of all people) having to fight against the numbers game until Liger makes the save. This segues into the Taguchi play-call as his team charge at Iizuka in the corner, finishing with a hip attack… before Iizuka bites his rear end. Well, he is unstable, I guess.
Things degenerate again as Desperado whips Taguchi with Iizuka’s leash, before Taichi tags in and makes use of the bell hammer that he’d commandeered. You know the kind of crap this is. Suzuki-gun’s “greatest hits”, including Taguchi leaping onto the hammer, and then getting… it shoved in his ass. At least Taguchi gets a receipt from it!
Ricochet enjoyed a brief flurry, planting Kanemaru with a running shooting star press for a near-fall, before a suplex/neckbreaker dropped TAKA. A Space Flying Tiger Drop keeps Ricochet in the air after another flurry, which took out the remainder of the crew so Makabe could finish off TAKA with the King Kong Knee drop. Hey, this was entertaining even with the Suzuki-gun BS. At least it was buried deep in the undercard, so it means little either way. **¾
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
Goto had a bad time of it early, with Fale overpowering him from the start – albeit with a little help from Chase Owens. Heck, even Chase was able to keep things going, working over the leg, before Goto eventually took him down with a simple suplex.
YOSHI-HASHI gets the tag and runs straight in with a Headhunter flipping neckbreaker, before Owens damn near took his head off with a running knee. Fale tries to get involved, but Goto instantly clotheslines him to the outside as Owens does a pretty good job on his own, dropping YOSHI-HASHI with a trapped-arm clothesline for a near-fall.
A package piledriver from Owens is countered, as YOSHI-HASHI’s left-arm lariat sets him up for Karma, and with Fale still being restrained outside, that’s enough for the win. Surprisingly short, but Owens looked really good in defeat. Perhaps if New Japan did undercard storylines more he’d be more than “that guy who sometimes does tours”. **½
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Beretta
If you take out matches against Young Lions, this was Yujiro’s first singles match since the New Japan Cup earlier this year. Before that, you’ve got to go to the 2014 and 2015 G1s and Yujiro’s run as the NEVER champion for his last run of singles matches. Yeah, as Stain’d once sang, it’s been a while.
Beretta has new music, and a new t-shirt helpfully reminding us of his new weight class…
The two start off throwing bombs against each other, but Beretta’s quickly undone when Yujiro bites him and hits the Stroke. Beretta rebounds with a legdrop as Yujiro trapped himself in the ropes, before flying with the tope con hilo! From there, Takahashi manages to turn things around, taking Beretta back outside with a big boot off the apron, which leads to a lengthy spell on top.
A fightback from Beretta’s quickly quashed with chops and a big back body drop, but the next one works as a tornado DDT out of the corner almost gets the former Trent the win. A clothesline from Beretta finally takes Yujiro to the outside, before Beretta’s plancha earns him a shot or two with the pimp cane. Somehow that’s not a DQ, so Yujiro drags him onto the ramp for a Fisherman’s buster.
Beretta narrowly beats the count-out, and walks into an Incolle slam (Yujiro’s version of the Angle slam). An attempted Dudebuster’s countered as Beretta tries to fight back… but it just gets him a big boot in the corner as Takahashi gets off a super Fisherman’s buster for a near-fall! The Tokyo Pimps (a sit-out Dominator) follows, but still it’s not enough, so he goes for the Pimp Juice… only for Beretta to escape and nearly win with that leg grapevine pin that Darby Allin’s been using!
A piledriver keeps the momentum shifting towards Beretta for a two-count, but he ends up getting sent into the corner a la Shawn Michaels, before dumping Yujiro with a release German! In the end, Beretta rushes in with a knee, before the Dudebuster gets the maiden singles win for the former Roppongi Vice member. This was fun, with Yujiro and Beretta working really well together… but you’ve got to remember that these undercard feuds are going to take time for the crowd to get used to. ***¼
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. War Machine (Raymond Rowe & Hanson) (c)
War Machine’s two-up in this three-match series, but this really is “all to play for”… and with War Machine inviting the match to start on the outside, this could get nasty really quickly. Have New Japan really had “War Machine Rules” before? They have now!
So the floor seating area all got an up-close-and-personal view of the match, and yes, it’s predictably hard to keep up with! War Machine work over Archer, who takes the match closer to the ring… where Hanson finds a table! Another table comes into play as Tanga Loa gets thrown into a Rowe forearm, whilst Davey Boy Smith Jr. has issues with the table.
Worryingly, those tables are placed outside opposite sides of the ring, as Rowe gets thrown back inside for some two-on-one by the KES. War Machine recover to splatter Tama Tonga in the corner, before a pair of dives are swatted away by the KES’ forearms as the champions again find themselves heavily on the defensive.
Hanson eventually mounts a fightback, taking Archer and Tama into opposing corners for the lariats, which are ended with a scooped reverse DDT from Smith. The power moves continue as Rowe eats the Tonga Twist, only for Tama to get pounced by Archer as we have our favourite: the Parade of Moves!
Hanson looked to go up top, but Archer pulls him down and decides to go Old School… so he could leap off to the pile on the floor! Archer threatens to launch Tama Tonga into the crowd with an inverted crucifix bomb, but instead he takes the Guerrilla Warfare double-team DDT on the ramp, just in time for Davey Boy to get placed on the table as Rowe slammed Hanson onto it… and again, the table doesn’t give… it just cracked and cut open the Bulldog’s back.
That gets us down to War Machine and the Guerrillas, unofficially at least, as a pop-up powerslam almost secured a title retention. The clothesline-assisted German’s thwarted as the Guerrillas take over, with a Tanga Loa swandive headbutt and a big splash from Tama also getting a two-count. Hanson recovers to wipe out Tama with a tope, before War Machine get back with Fall Out to Tanga Loa… but Smith pulls out the ref to prevent the clean sweep!
The KES hit the ring and go back after the champions, and there’s still one more table left… and Hanson’s charged straight into it. Hey, that one gives! Tama eats a one-arm powerbomb after going for the Gun Stun, but in the end Rowe takes a Bulldog powerbomb and an Archer chokeslam before the Killer Bomb secures new champions! Well, that was suitably chaotic – I was never a fan of the whole “three three-ways for the titles”, but at least they didn’t hot potato the titles throughout the tour. ***½
Poor Shota Umino and Hirai Kawato get wiped out by the new champions afterwards…
Kota Ibushi & David Finlay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin
We’ve got Ibushi vs. Tanahashi at King of Pro Wrestling in a few weeks, so this is the natural warm-up! Plenty of takedowns and escapes early, before we get Big Mike and Medium Dave.
They try the same stuff, but this time Finlay gets an advantage with a pescado to Elgin on the outside. Back inside, a pop-up cutter gets Elgin a near-fall, as a massive chop keeps Finlay on the back foot, so Tanahashi can take over. Well, if you insist on being so pale, chops will show up way more than usual!
An assisted Alabama Slam from Tanahashi gets Elgin a near-fall whilst the Ace was holding his ribs, before Elgin just whacks Ibushi with a forearm as he tried to make a save. We’re back to Ibushi and Tanahashi, as Kota gets a near-fall with a standing moonsault, before an attempted Slingblade’s ducked and met with a German suplex as Elgin breaks up the cover… and almost Finlay with a big boot.
Ibushi replies with a kick to Tanahashi as he then sets up for Kamigoye, but this time Elgin saves as Tanahashi gets in that Slingblade after all. Elgin takes over with some corner clotheslines and a forearm to Ibushi, before an enziguiri rocked the Golden Star ahead of some more lariats.
Finlay gets the tag in and nearly snatches a shock win with a missile dropkick to Elgin, who hits back with a Falcon arrow that forces Ibushi to break up the cover. Elgin’s double-teamed for a spell, before blocking a Finlay stunner and levelling him once more with a lariat. From there, it’s a bucklebomb and an Elgin bomb, and that’s plenty for Big Mike to get the win. This was fine – the Tanahashi/Ibushi match next month is going to be insane, but we knew that already, so we didn’t need to have too much in terms of build for it. ***
Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Rocky Romero vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI)
We’re leading to Ishii/Naito in a briefcase match at King of Pro Wrestling. Unfortunately, his tag partners today wanted to sell and buy DVDS…
Ishii tries to go for Naito at the start… but instead has to deal with a yappy puppy by the name of BUSHI. Yeah, it’s no big deal, and he quickly gets his hands on Naito, violently sending him into the guard railings. Back in the ring, Yano goofs around and falls into Rocky Romero to avoid SANADA…
Rocky gets off some Forever lariats to Naito and BUSHI, before the tide turns as SANADA yanks him into the ring post. Naito took the opportunity to sneak in a cheeky slam to Ishii on the ramp, whilst Yano’s tied up in the Paradise lock for a brief moment. We’re back to Naito and Ishii, which will be all sorts of hard-hitting fun when they get their singles match, but for now we’re making do with Naito and BUSHI working over Ishii’s injured knee, with a modified figure four.
Yano tries to stomp it away, but it doesn’t stop Naito going back to the knee, whilst BUSHI and SANADA keep up the pressure. A backcracker gets BUSHI a two-count as everyone else ran in, before a lungblower gets another near-fall. After missing an MX, BUSHI’s whipped into the exposed corner, before Ishii dumped Naito on the apron with a lariat… with Naito as good as dead, BUSHI takes a pounding, with a simple lariat getting a near-fall ahead of an Ishii brainbuster to seal the win. Good stuff, but this is going to be so much better as a singles match. ***½
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay
Daryl’s still in the UK apparently, and Okada’s head is back to being taped onto his head. This might be a fun night for him…
A simple shoulder block from EVIL looks to cause some trouble for Okada, who recovers to swing and miss with a Rainmaker attempt… and EVIL’s not taking that this early. Meanwhile, Ospreay and Hiromu fly around each other after a blocked sunset bomb attempt, with Ospreay too showing… he’s not worn down that easily!
After a dropkick takes Takahashi outside, Will teases a dive, but his fake-out just gets him attacked from behind by EVL, who then introduces Okada to those guard railings. A little later, Ospreay introduces Kobe to some of the English language’s finest curse words after taking some chops, before the Ingobernables swat away Okada’s briefest of comebacks… meaning that Ospreay’s got nobody to tag when he did drag himself into the corner.
Finally Okada returns for the tag as he drops EVIL with elbows, before dropkicking his next challenger off of the top rope. Okada followed EVIL to the outside, booting him over the guard railings, but EVIL literally flings a chair into Okada as he ran towards him. That looked like it sucked.
Back inside, Okada takes the Darkness Falls for a two-count, then rebounds with a dropkick after fighting away from the Everything is EVIL STO. More from Ospreay and Takahashi now, with Ospreay avoiding another sunset bomb before landing a springboard forearm and a corkscrew splash after adjusting the Robinson Special corkscrew kick. Hiromu responds with an overhead belly-to-belly, taking Ospreay into the corner with force, before a Time Bomb is eventually landed for a near-fall.
Another Time Bomb’s escaped as Ospreay gets off the Robinson Special, but his OsCutter lands into the path of EVIL, who then eats a Rainmaker. Seconds later, the OsCutter finally lands on Hiromu, and that’s enough for Ospreay, who goes into his title shot with KUSHIDA with a little bit of steam. Another fun match, but I wish we’d have been able to get Ospreay/Hiromu as a singles match before the KUSHIDA match… ***¾
IWGP United States Championship: Juice Robinson vs. Kenny Omega (c)
Back on August 5, Juice earned the shock of all shocks by beating Kenny Omega in the G1. This is his reward: a title match against Omega who’s barely weeks off from having knee surgery at the start of the Destruction tour.
They keep things simple as Juice was reluctant to even think about working over Omega’s rehabbed knee, choosing to rather “wrestle” his way to a win. That knee looked to affect Kenny early as he crumpled after being backdropped onto the apron. Juice still wouldn’t capitalise, so he’s charged into the guard railings as Omega looked to be the proverbial one-legged man in the ass kicking competition.
A Kotaro Crusher gets a two-count as Omega’s knee miraculously healed, allowing him to drive it into the gut of a running Juice, who retorted with a spinebuster before finding a way to escape from Omega’s Finlay roll attempt. Juice follows in with a cannonball into the corner, but he can’t quite finish him off with that or a crossbody as Kenny kept kicking-out. After elbowing out of a Dragon suplex, Juice gets planted with a ‘rana as the crowd called for the Terminator tope, which connected big time with his challenger. Back inside, a missile dropkick rocks Robinson, as does a Shoudo, only for a leg lariat from Juice to nonchalantly put him back in it.
Juice keeps up with a Jackhammer for a two-count, but Omega comes back with a V-trigger, a reverse ‘rana and then more V-triggers. The One Winged Angel nearly costs Kenny as it’s countered into a Victory Roll, but after the kick-out another V-trigger blasts Robinson… who finally makes a point of going after Kenny’s knee, with a chop block drawing some boos from Kobe!
Some elbows to the knee lead to a single-leg crab, which Omega eventually kicks away from, only to be helpless as Omega takes a leg DDT as the crowd stayed rather silent, at least until they booed Juice again for wrapping the leg around the ringpost. A ringpost figure four draws similar dissension, then “oohs” as Omega shoves Juice into the guard rails as he pushed away his challenger again. Kenny tries for a plancha, but comes up short as Juice gets in a reverse DDT for a near-fall, before a swandive headbutt to the injured knee saw Juice continue to stack up those two-counts. A cannonball into the ropes looked to cut-off Omega, but some chops on the apron looked to set up the champion for something… which ended up being a picture-perfect suplex to the floor!
Omega keeps up with a pair of snap-Dragon suplexes that left Juice out on the mat, and this looks to be academic from this point as V-triggers just smashed into the face and head of the challenger. Finally, Juice catches one, but walked into another, before countering a reverse ‘rana into an electric chair facebuster! A spinning heel kick turned the tide again, as a V-trigger to the back of a cornered Robinson sets up for a Jay Driller… but still, it’s only good for a two-count!
Somehow Juice countered a snap Dragon into Eat Defeat, before obliterating Kenny with a lariat for a two-count. Juice can’t quite get off a powerbomb, so tries for Pulp Friction as he instead gets off a German suplex as Robinson crossed the 30-minute mark, before finally landing Pulp Friction! Omega barely gets his shoulder up in time, so Juice lifts him up top for an Avalanche Pulp Friction!
Instead though, Kenny escapes and turned it into a top rope One Winged Angel… and that, my friends, does the deal! I don’t think the crowd really bought Juice as a threat, but going over half an hour against Omega will help build his stature down the line. On the flipside, Omega taking half an hour-plus to beat Juice keeps the story going that he’s not 100% and needs time to heal-up… but hey, this was easily the best of the Destruction main events, so I can’t complain too much about this match going long. ****¼
We say this every time New Japan splits a show, but spreading one PPV card across three shows dilutes things. Thankfully, this looks to be the last one for the year: King of Pro Wrestling and Power Struggle are one-shots before November and December’s World Tag League tour which’ll put a few final bows in place for WrestleKingdom. Some good stuff almost lost in a lot of matches that were just… there. To be expected after the G1, perhaps, but quit splitting shows!