We’ve a rematch from one of the sleeper hits of the Best of the Super Juniors, as tournament winner Hiromu Takahashi put his newly-won IWGP Junior Heavyweight belt on the line against El Desperado!

Almost four weeks ago, Desperado took the upset win in a Best of Super Juniors block match – and since Hiromu won the whole thing, we’ve the obvious and easy rematch! Oh, and some G1 block announcements, since that’ll draw in some more casual eyeballs as well. Yeah, the first three matches are repeats from yesterday…

Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
Will the string of draws continue? Probably…

Tsuji started out hot, taking Uemura into the ropes for a chop, but the favour’s returned as the pair started to throw elbows at each other. Eventually Uemura takes his foe into the corner for some stomps ahead of a leaping back elbow… only to run into a shoulder block as Tsuji picked up a near-fall.

Their elbows resumed as the match was looking rather more snug than yesterday, and again Tsuji’s going after the leg, yanking back on it before throwing some kicks en route to a toe hold. Uemura’s forced to scramble to the ropes as Tsuji continued to torque away… and the leg work continued as Tsuji stomped Uemura’s knee into the mat, before another version of the toe hold led to another rope break.

That seemed to be the cue for Uemura to fight back, throwing some chops that sunk Tsuji to a knee, but he couldn’t follow up with a slam – because of his knee – and that left him on the mat for more stomps. A back elbow cuts off a running Tsuji, who’s finally slammed for a near-fall, but he’s again taken back to the corner for chops and hiptosses, as Yota seemed to be schooling him.

Still, we were only getting two-counts as the match sailed past the halfway mark, before a big back body drop took Uemura down for a near-fall. From there, Tsuji looked for his Standard Issue Submission, but he rolls Uemura over too close to the ropes, before a series of roll-ups ended when Uemura had the taste slapped out of him. Again, Tsuji goes for the Boston crab, this time rolling him over, and even drags him away from the ropes as we looked set to finally get a winner between these two… but Tsuji loses the ‘crab and they end up rolling into the ropes.

Tsuji tries to rescue a victory with a desperate pin after the break, but he could only get a two-count as the bell goes. Despite completely dominating, he’s still unable to get the win – and this may well be the first sign of progression between the two. It certainly was the first sign of a learned swear word from Yota… who got slapped to the mat by Uemura afterwards! These Young Lion matches may well be basic, but you have to love the intensity and the sheer simplicity of the story they’re going in with. ***¼

Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi)
Another rematch from yesterday, we started with Ren Narita making a beeline for Ishimori, knocking him off the apron and into the guard rails as the Young Lions tried to pick apart Yujiro in the early going.

Ishimori’s quickly back in to get a receipt with a springboard seated senton to Narita, who’s kicked into the ropes as the tables turned, this time with Ishimori and Takahashi combining to rock Narita with a low dropkick. Some chops from Yujiro take Narita into the ropes, but the Young Lion fights back, only to get taken down for a neck snap, before the baseball slide German suplex firmly put him in his place.

After a dropkick from Narita, both men tag out as we’re taken to Umino and Yujiro, with the former charging in with an elbow in the corner and a missile dropkick for good measure. It’s enough for a two-count as we go to the Standard Issue Submission – one that Ishimori easily breaks up as he and Narita renewed their little rivalry. Meanwhile, Yujiro almost lost to a roll-up as Umino countered the Fisherman’s buster, before rolling him up for ALMOST a three-count! I love those “almost, but not quite” falls for the Young Lions…

In the end though, Yujiro shrugs it all off to hit his Fisherman buster for a two-count of his own, before the Pimp Juice DDT put away Umino for good. Decent enough, and while I really should be hating how “they’ve paired Ishimori with a Young Lion!!!1one”, it’s an intriguing little feud that’ll keep him bubbling on. ***

Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tomoyuki Oka
Our third and final rematch of the day, and a day after father’s day, Tenzan’s decided he wants to start against Nagata. Some absolute units here, some real super, strong machines…

They start off by trading arm wringers as Nagata takes Tenzan down and into the ropes… then again with a hesitation low dropkick. Tenzan mounted a comeback with a headbutt to the gut and some Mongolian chops, before both men tagged out – giving Oka a chance against a rather larger, and older version of himself.

Shoulder charges took down Nakanishi, but the veterans mounted a comeback, with Nagata just putting the boots to Oka before cinching in a single leg crab. Nakanishi tries an Argentine backbreaker on Oka, but has to relinquish as Tenzan broke it up… which meant that he gave his own version of the Mongolian chops to a seated Oka!

Tenzan manages to get in to show Nakanishi how to do the move properly, before hauling him up for a suplex for a near-fall. Nakanishi chops away Tenzan’s knee to put him on the mat, before he resists an Irish whip to clothesline, then spear him. That’s the cue for Nagata to return with some kicks to the chest, but a Mountain Bomb shocks him as Oka’s brought back in… with the Young Lion charging Nagata into the corner for a crossbody into it and a suplex out.

Oka barely gets a near-fall from that though as the crowd tried to rally behind him… but Oka going for a Boston crab perhaps wasn’t the best idea as Nakanishi broke it up. Tenzan gets rid of Nakanishi again, but Nagata’s back up to trade off with some elbows before he hits a nice spinning heel kick. A running knee into the corner’s next, as the Backdrop Hold again puts away Oka. Decent enough, but exactly what you’d expect with this particular match. **¾

Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Togi Makabe, Ryusuke Taguchi, David Finlay & Toa Henare
Hey, I just noticed… Ryusuke Taguchi’s love of football and his not being booked (ahem) on tomorrow’s Korakuen show could mean something. Nah, he’s not playing for Japan against Columbia tomorrow…

Makabe tries to take a shot at Yano early, since he’s no time for his goofing around… you know the score. Yano gets a little arrogant, but gets caught and tags out… before throwing Rocky Romero into the ring? Rocky’s not even in the match, but referee Tiger Hattori takes his jacket off and acts like he’s going to make him wrestle… o-kay?!

In come SHO instead, who is in the match, as was David Finlay, who found himself quickly on the mat as SHO grabbed his arm, then a head, only to get caught with a dropkick as the tide turned and the ring filled. Taguchi directs traffic as his team laid into SHO in the corner, but the whip into Taguchi’s arse backfires as Finlay gets sent there repeatedly, eventually taking Taguchi off the top rope and to the floor.

Meanwhile, Yano’s undown the turnbuckle padding as Roppongi 3K isolated Finlay, double-teaming him a little before YOSHI-HASHI rushed onto the apron to make a tag. Go on YOSHI, try and make it look like you’re more than a pity pick in the G1! He whipped Finlay into the corner before bringing in Yano for more of the same, before Finlay finally makes a comeback with an uppercut off the ropes. He’s able to bring Taguchi in, who goes a little too happy with hip attacks, wiping out the CHAOS team with them, before rolling into YOH with the Three Amigos.

YOH escapes the last one and hits back with a Falcon arrow as tags take us to Henare and YOSHI-HASHI again, as the pair tee off with elbows. A leaping shoulder from Henare puts YOSHI down before he haka’s his way into a falling chop… and with the ring again filling, YOSHI gets cornered by Henare, Finlay and Makabe for a spell.

A Samoan drop from Henare’s good for a near-fall, but YOSHI-HASHI’s able to hit back, landing a Bunker Buster for a near-fall as the ring floods yet again. Makabe sorts it out though as we’re back to Henare with a flying shoulder tackle to YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall, only to get caught in a Butterfly Hold as YOSHI stemmed the tide and picked up a win. Not exactly convincing, but a win’s a win, I guess. ***

G1 Block Announcements
A Block: Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, YOSHI-HASHI, Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, EVIL, Minoru Suzuki,
B Block: Juice Robinson, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Tama Tonga, SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi

Yes, we’re getting another Okada/Tanahashi… while Omega/Okada V will have to wait until at least the finals… assuming Kenny can get past his fellow Golden Lover, Kota Ibushi. Block A’s easily the more loaded of the two, but there’s a tonne of attention-grabbing matches there. Suzuki/Tanahashi, Suzuki/Okada, Okada/Elgin… and a stack of big matches for Zack Sabre Jr, including a rematch from New Orleans against Tomohiro Ishii. The announcements of what matches are headlining which particular night will be made on tomorrow’s show… are you hyped yet?

Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI)
Yes. Jump start. Gong sounds. Everyone but Naito and Taichi’s on the floor, which is making me think they’re reviving their brief feud from earlier in the year…

Taichi mocks everything by wearing Naito’s LIJ baseball hat as he started to lay into him, with a little help from Kanemaru. It doesn’t last as Naito hits back with a low dropkick to Taichi, before rolling down onto the mat for a spot of… tranquilo! The usual Suzuki-gun antics rear their heads as a chairshot from Iizuka stops SANADA, bringing everyone back to the floor, and we’ve more brawling around ringside as everyone goes after SANADA, raking the eyes and jamming their boots into his head. It’s the perfect way to bring us back down to earth after the block announcements….

Iizuka wanders in to bite SANADA’s tasty mohawk, then his arm, then his foot as we’re all about the shtick. Even BUSHI’s new mask gets nibbled on. SANADA gets free and tries for a TKO, but Iizuka bites the hand, prompting SANADA to fight fire with fire, as he eventually brought in EVIL, who was forced to fight off some three-on-one from Taichi, TAKA and Kanemaru… doing so effectively, too. A back senton squashes Taichi for a near-fall, but some kicks turn it back around, as does a lariat that dumped EVIL onto his head!

Taichi seemed to be teasing EVIL’s own finisher, but of course there was none of that as EVIL picked him up… and had his eyes raked. He’s able to hit a sidewalk slam though, as BUSHI comes in with a missile dropkick to Taichi. Some kicks took BUSHI down though as TAKA gets the tag in… and there’s more four-on-one stuff as BUSHI’s squashed in the corner. TAKA tries to make BUSHI Just Tap Out with the bully choke, but in the end the ring fills as LIJ put the boots to TAKA, ahead of the MX as LIJ took home the win. This was a little tedious in the middle, and while the pace picked up towards the end, this is firmly going into the pile of matches I’ll never ever rewatch. Not even by accident. **¼

Post-match, Taichi wiped out the Young Lions with his mic stand as everyone just watched on… there’s a palpably awkward moment at the end when SANADA refused to do the LIJ fist-bump. I bet he’d have done it before he found out he was in Naito’s block!

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson, Jeff Cobb & KUSHIDA vs. Jay White, Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo
A day after losing his title, Michael Elgin’s in a match against the man who beat him for the belt… and teaming with the man who’s hoping to be the next NEVER champion. All while Juice Robinson flung his cap onto one of the lights…

We eventually get going with Jay White clearing the apron as everyone pairs off on the floor in the ways you’d expect. White’s going for Juice Robinson and his broken hand, wrenching away and stomping on it, before Gedo came in and somehow found himself choking and raking away at Tanahashi. Okada’s in to continue to pick away the pieces as I guess he really doesn’t want Tanahashi at 100% for their match in the G1, so he takes Tanahashi from turnbuckle-to-turnbuckle before bringing in Goto.

The isolation of Tanahashi keeps up as everyone in the CHAOS team took their shots at him, with Ishii throwing chops… and laughing off retaliatory ones. Well, he would if he could laugh. Headbutts follow, before he sidesteps a low dropkick and gets met with a headbutt from Tanahashi, who followed in with a Dragon screw to turn things around.

A tag finally brings in Michael Elgin, who’s gone back to his singlet and quickly dumps Ishii with a uranage out of the corner. Elgin’s quickly subjected to a numbers game, but he shrugs off White and Okada with a press slam, before clocking Ishii with an enziguiri. Elgin almost took the win with a German suplex, before he and Ishii teed off on each other with elbow, leading to a rather groggy Ishii getting the last word in with a German suplex.

Ishii tagged out to Goto to carry on where he left off yesterday, but Elgin is able to overwhelm him with a dropkick as Jeff Cobb gets the tag in to have his first taste of Goto. A running Samoan drop and a standing moonsault puts the NEVER champion down, only for Okada to break up the cover and get himself an Athleticplex as the Japanese commentary team cackled like schoolgirls at Cobb’s strength.

Goto has to elbow out of a German suplex before he pulled Cobb’s head back across a knee. More tags bring in Gedo and KUSHIDA, and it’s the Time Splitter who’s on the offensive here, only to have his punch ducked and turned into a Downward Spiral. He avoids a Gedo clutch in a bid to go for the Hoverboard Lock, but Okada’s back to make a save with a flapjack as a Parade of Moves broke out. That ended when Juice gave Jay White a spinebuster, before the ring cleared as KUSHIDA took Gedo into the turnbuckles, before rolling him out for an attempted Back to the Future… that’s blocked, so a handspring back elbow has to do.

In the end, KUSHIDA grabs the win with a leaping roll-through DDT, which he segued from into the Hoverboard Lock as Gedo was forced to tap… but the match continued as Goto and Cobb brawled to the back, still wanting a piece of each other. They’ll have to wait… while Jay White didn’t, as he snuck in a Blade Runner to KUSHIDA as he blasted the victorious team with some big moves to leave standing tall. ***¼

Except he didn’t leave, of course, he went right back after Juice, who countered a Blade Runner with some punches… only to stop himself punching with his broken hand as the Dusty punches couldn’t quite finish as normal. Robinson thought he’d finish off White with Pulp Friction, but a low blow stopped that as some crucifix elbows left Juice laying.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado vs. Hiromu Takahashi (c)
Hey, a video to show some of the prior Junior champions! It’s main event time! I think Desperado may have an inferiority complex, as he came out carrying both of the junior tag titles, perhaps to offset Hiromu’s title and the Best of the Super Junior trophy. Or at least, what was left of it… Meanwhile, Hiromu’s brought out a guitar case, presumably to mock Desperado with. So, how do they plan to top their match from 27 days ago?

Well, in the guitar case were some flowers, which Hiromu gave to Desperado, only to get beaten down with as Despy tried to use the guitar case… he just gets that thrown at him as he’s dropkicked to the outside at the bell, and we’re starting with the obligatory guard rail spots! A shotgun dropkick into the guard rails rocks Despy, as Hiromu – and his guitar case – headed up with him into the crowd.

Oh God, we’re getting the cross-arena shotgun aren’t we? After some shots with the guitar case, Hiromu walks the length of the arena to prepare for it… but he’s swatted away with the case as Desperado vowed not to take that move again! With referee Red Shoes confiscating the case, Desperado steals a fan’s drink as he smashes it into Hiromu’s head before they wandered back towards the ring, but not before the champion could get thrown and buried under a pile of chairs in the crowd.

Finally we’re back in the ring as Desperado… uses it for a shortcut, because we’re on the floor again! The other side of Korakuen Hall gets a better sight as Hiromu’s thrown into some more chairs, but he’s able to beat the count as Desperado looked to edge into the lead. Some choking keeps Hiromu down, as does a Boston crab, but this time he wasn’t going to tap to a Young Lion’s finisher! Hiromu manages to mount a comeback, scoring with headscissors before taking Desperado into the ropes and then out of the ring with an awkward shotgun dropkick! He followed him outside with a shotgun dropkick into the guard railings, before they traded elbows in the ring as Desperado hit back with a spinebuster off of the ropes. Desperado pulls a Yano by removing some turnbuckle padding, before repeatedly whipping Hiromu into the exposed corner.

A suplex followed for a near-fall, but the referee refused to count as it came too soon after Desperado’s cheating. Just as well really, as Hiromu reversed an Irish whip into the same corner, sending Desperado shoulder-first to the outside, before snapping him back to the floor with a sunset bomb! SPLAT! Rather than take the count-out, Hiromu flew into Desperado off the top rope with a back senton that came scarily close to the guard railings. Back inside, Desperado avoids being lawn-darted into the turnbuckles, and sparks a long strike battle with elbows and chops, but it’s pretty much laughed off by Hiromu, who finally knocked down his foe with a running elbow. More elbows follow between the two as Hiromu tried to take control, only for headbutts from Desperado to put him back on his knees.

Desperado tries for Guitarra de Angel, but Hiromu avoids that – and a mule kick low blow – before getting dumped with a clothesline as both men were left laying.

We finally get interference as Yoshinobu Kanemaru comes out with a chair, then takes the referee’s attention as Desperado looked to use the chair… and did so, only to get caught with a Dynamite Plunger onto the hardware! That looked like it sucked. Finally BUSHI comes out to spray Kanemaru with black mist, as we’re back to the regularly scheduled match…

Hiromu threatens to use the chair, but opts to toss it aside so he could lawn-dart Desperado into the corner with a death valley driver, but a Time Bomb’s blocked when Despy grabs the ref. Number two-ah! A superkick’s blocked as Hiromu gets kicked low, and I’m now expecting more interference… but instead, Desperado swings and misses with his belt as Hiromu rips off the mask?! Desperado’s painted his face, so he doesn’t mind hitting Hiromu with the belt before nonchalantly putting the hood back on, identity still safe…

Desperado almost took the win with Guitarra de Angel, before a powerbomb’s countered as Hiromu gave him the D! They roll into the middle of the ring, where Hiromu clings on as Desperado tried to powerbomb himself free… they escape and counter, counter, counter, before Despy nearly wins with La Magistral! Hiromu’s right back up and into the D, which this time is broken up with a buckle bomb into the exposed corner! God damn!

It increases even more as Hiromu hits the belly-to-belly into the same corner, before another lawn dart and a Time Bomb finally puts Desperado away for the win! I preferred the Best of the Super Juniors match, but that’s a “your mileage will vary” thing. The interference here was almost expected since that’s part of the Suzuki-gun template, but at least it didn’t play into the finish. ****¼

The end-of-show speech from Hiromu didn’t set up any next challenger, but at least Naito didn’t come out to continue to erode the trophy some more! Compared to Sunday’s show, this was miles better – while we had a lot of the same matches, things felt rather more consequential this time around. Perhaps it was the G1 block announcements that allowed for some more fantasy booking? The final Korakuen show of the tour is on Tuesday, and with it being a retirement ceremony for Super Strong Machine. He’ll not be wrestling, having had his last match in 2014, but some very familiar names may well be donning the mask and becoming Super Strong Machines themselves!